Football: Barmby provides inspiration

Everton 4 Wimbledon 0
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The Independent Online
FOR THOSE who remember the Goodison, the bad and the ugly of 12 months ago and are astonished by this result, you are not alone. The Everton scoreboard was so overloaded by the turn of events last night it flickered briefly, flashed gobbledegook for several seconds and then went blank.

No one could blame it. A year ago Everton wondered when their next home goal would come from, now they cannot stop scoring and this took their tally to eight in three Goodison matches. For good measure it also took them above Liverpool in the Premiership table, something to be cherished on Merseyside.

David Unsworth, Nick Barmby, Francis Jeffers and Kevin Campbell scored and if Neil Sullivan had not saved splendidly from Campbell (twice), Barmby (twice) and Danny Cadamarteri the result would have been even more embarrassing for Wimbledon who have now won just one of their last 16 league matches. Little wonder Goodison rose to acclaim the newly discovered blue buccaneers.

Everton were so dominant, Wimbledon so Route One poor, the only surprise was that the evening should begin so sloppily. For 15 minutes the fare was dreadful, then the evening was transformed with two swift thrusts.

The first came from Wimbledon, who had been buoyed by a 3-3 draw at Newcastle on Saturday. Michael Hughes raced in from the left wing to deliver a pass that was beyond Unsworth and in Carl Cort's path. He shot low, but too close to Paul Gerrard, and before he had time to berate himself for his profligacy he was punished more meaningfully.

The Everton goalkeeper cleared, Don Hutchison helped it on and Campbell used his strength to manhandle Dean Blackwell out of the way. Whether that had been a foul was debatable but there was little doubt about the Wimbledon defender's reaction, a hefty barge that pushed Campbell to the ground. The penalty, pushed against the post by Sullivan, rebounded kindly for the taker and Unsworth lashed the ball into the net.

Wimbledon's aerial assault threatened to drag them back into the game and Marcus Gayle tested Gerrard's reflexes just before the interval, but Everton had sprung to life against Southampton in Saturday's 4-1 win just after half-time and they did the same again.

The first arrived 25 seconds after the restart when Mitch Ward won a tackle 35 yards out and then supplied Barmby on the outside of a square back line. The angle was not promising but the shot was so powerful that it crashed through Sullivan's attempted block and into the net.

That was a splendid goal, the next was even better. Campbell, a strong and ever eager-target, got beyond Alan Kimble on the right and waited until the Wimbledon defence was drawn towards him before sliding a pass sideways to Jeffers. The shot, too, was blessed with simplicity, a low drive that found the net just by the far post.

Wimbledon's defence was in tatters and Campbell got his just desserts after 68 minutes. Barmby, inventive and intelligent throughout, slipped a ball inside and the burly striker curled the ball past Sullivan's dive.

"It was an excellent result and an excellent performance," Walter Smith, the Everton manager, purred, emphasising how well his team had handled the aerial attacks and physical challenge provided by Wimbledon. "Now we need to take that same form and commitment to our away matches."

Everton (4-4-2): Gerrard; Dunne, Weir, Gough, Unsworth; Ward, Hutchison, Pembridge (Gemmill, 85), Barmby (Ball, 80); Jeffers (Cadamarteri, 82), Campbell. Substitutes not used: Watson, Simonsen (gk).

Wimbledon (4-4-2): Sullivan; Thatcher, Cunningham, Blackwell, Kimble; Euell, Roberts Andersen, h-t), Earle (Ainsworth, 58), Hughes (Leaburn, 80); Cort, Gayle. Substitutes not used: Badir, Davis (gk).

Referee: J Winter (Stockton-on-Tees).