Football: Breacker's shaker

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The Independent Online
Everton. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

West Ham United. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

Breacker 6

Attendance: 19,579

EVERTON'S dismal holiday season was wrapped up after just six minutes yesterday when Tim Breacker stole forward to snatch the only goal of the game.

The Merseysiders have now gone six games without scoring since Howard Kendall jumped ship, and a solitary point has lowered them into the relegation zone.

Jimmy Gabriel, the caretaker manager, has proved a disappointing guardian angel, but his board may soon be able to impose some stability after meeting all day yesterday to consider offers to buy out the club. Jim Greenwood, chief executive and secretary of Everton, said the club hoped to appoint a manager within the next seven days.

At pounds 4m in debt with a non- descript squad, Everton are paying for the profligacy of the Colin Harvey years. Yesterday Tony Cottee, responsible for pounds 2.2m of the pounds 12m lavished in that 40-month period, was back in tandem with his striking partner Paul Rideout for the first time in two months. The defence, however, had a suspiciously makeshift look about it. Dave Watson was missing after breaking his nose and fracturing a cheekbone against Sheffield Wednesday last week, so Ian Snodin was deployed as a centre-back alongside Matthew Jackson and the pair were immediately found wanting.

In West Ham's first attack, Mike Marsh floated forward a gentle cross from the middle of the pitch, Breacker ghosted in from right-back and across Neville Southall to head delicately over the stranded keeper.

From then on Gabriel's side attacked on a wing and a prayer, as West Ham strung their midfield four across the front of the defence and comfortably soaked up the pressure.

Lee Chapman almost sewed the game up when a challenge on Paul Holmes in the 58th minute sent the ball spinning back towards the goal, only for it to halt frustratingly on the goal-line. Then, put through by the substitute Keith Rowland, the tall striker was foiled by Southall's desperate plunge.

Rideout was unlucky not to get a penalty at the death when he was pulled back by Potts, but once more Gabriel was the bringer of bad news to his board. 'We needed a break, we needed a goal, but it never quite fell for us,' he said. 'Things are not getting easier.'