Football: Beardsley drops some heavy hints

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The Independent Online
Norwich City. .1

Everton. . . . 1

IF RESILIENCE was the only quality needed to win the championship, then Norwich City would be among the favourites for the title. For the third successive game they recovered from a deficit, and a draw was a creditable achievement against an accomplished Everton at Carrow Road.

The Norwich manager, Mike Walker, is trying to instil a new competitiveness in a side he admits have been 'a soft touch' in the past. Although their early position as Premier League leaders was clearly flattering, there are signs that the blend of talent and toughness which Walker seeks is beginning to emerge.

Everton, fresh from their mid- week humiliation of Manchester United at Old Trafford, had a verve and precision which was, at times, a revelation. By the interval they should have been three or four goals ahead, but suffered from the combination of excellent goalkeeping by Bryan Gunn and some slightly casual finishing.

They finally took the lead after 55 minutes. Andy Hinchcliffe, who had almost scored earlier with two ferocious 35-yard free-kicks, floated another into the penalty area and Peter Beardsley met Dave Watson's header with a volley which Gunn, who was beginning to look like a target in a firing range, could do nothing to stop.

At this point Everton were in complete control. Robert Warzycha may not relish the more physical aspects of the English game, but the Polish international was consistently creative and, on the other flank, Mark Ward also made a useful contribution.

The hub of Everton's slick interpassing was Beardsley. Mobile, courageous and inventive, his only failing was an occasional carelessness: it seemed the game was just too easy for him.

Time and again Beardsley deceived the Norwich defence as much by his speed of thought as by his sleight of foot. There can be little doubt that he was discarded prematurely by England. Whether there is now a case for his recall is more debatable, but Howard Kendall, the Everton manager, feels that an improvement in his side's fortunes will help his striker to press his case. On this evidence Everton can expect a significant advance on last season's 12th place.

Norwich, too, are making progress as they showed with a classic goal after 67 minutes. A wonderful volleyed cross by Mark Robins exposed Everton's only obvious weakness, an uncertainty in the centre of their defence, and Ruel Fox timed his run at the far post perfectly to get the jump on Gary Ablett and head in the equaliser.

It was more, perhaps, than Norwich merited, but the game deserved it. For so much good football to have produced only one goal would have been almost unnatural.

Goals: Beardsley (55) 0-1; Fox (67) 1-1.

Norwich City: Gunn; Culverhouse, Bowen, Butterworth, Sutton, Megson (Power, 87), Fox, Newman (Crook, 67), Robins, Goss, Phillips. Substitute not used: Walton (gk).

Everton: Southall; Harper, Hinchcliffe, Ebbrell (Johnston, 87), Watson, Ablett, Warzycha (Beagrie, 78), Beardsley, Rideout, Horne, Ward. Substitute not used: Kearton (gk).

Referee: J Key (Sheffield).