Ferguson waiting in the wings to exploit attacking options

Football: Everton 2 Sheffield Wednesday 2
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The Independent Online

Everton 2 Sheffield Wednesday 2

If Duncan Ferguson had leapt from his seat in the dug-out during the second half and given the roof of that structure a good, solid head-butt, he would have had a defence which, at worst, should have brought him a ticking-off from the bench.

On top of paying his debt to society, Ferguson, on his first full day outside Barlinnie, had to endure the sight of countless situations that he would have been ideally qualified to exploit.

As it was, an endless stream of crosses and corners from Anders Limpar and Andy Hinchcliffe went unappreciated. With Paul Rideout injured - in, ironically, a clash of heads - Everton lacked the physical presence in the penalty area that would have brought them a winner.

To make matters worse, Wednesday had taken a two- goal lead with Mark Bright headers from inviting crosses. Ferguson must have been squirming on his bench; there must surely be an EC directive on such cruel and unusual punishment.

The Everton manager, Joe Royle, is still wary and defensive on the subject of his headstrong prodigal, especially when the query comes in a Scottish accent.

"I don't talk to the Scottish press," he told one questioner with giveaway vowel sounds. "Don't you think you've done enough to him?''

He was willing to concede, however, that the prospect of Ferguson feeding off the sort of attack across the full width of the field that Everton are now capable of unleashing is a mouthwatering one.

On Saturday, the decisive work was done by a winger whose strong suit is not his crossing but his ability to outrun the defence and find the angle for the shot or the telling pass.

Andrei Kanchelskis halved Wednesday's lead in first-half injury time and it was his pass to Daniel Amokachi that produced the equaliser.

Kanchelskis gave Sheffield an awkward time from start to finish, although they were never acquiescent victims. At almost 34, the debutant Steve Nicol looked thoroughly at home both back on Merseyside and back in the Premiership.

"Five million pounds and worth every penny," enthused David Pleat over his free transfer signing from Notts County. "He could sit in an armchair and play, because he's got a brain," he said.

"Sometimes in English football, you need more brain and less athleticism."

Goals: Bright (2) 0-1; Bright (36) 0-2; Kanchelskis (45) 1-2; Amokachi (54) 2-2.

Everton (4-4-2): Southall; Jackson, Watson, Unsworth, Hinchcliffe; Kanchelskis, Parkinson, Ebbrell, Limpar; Rideout (Amokachi 18), Stuart. Substitutes not used: Horne, Kearton (gk).

Sheffield Wednesday (5-4-1): Pressman; Nolan, Atherton, Nicol, Walker, Briscoe (Williams 63, Degryse 72); Waddle, Hyde, Whittingham, Sinton; Bright. Substitute not used: Woods (gk).

Referee: M Bodenham (East Looe).