Football: Campbell the finished article

FA Premiership: Everton find new saviour after double strike lifts their blues
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The Independent Online
Newcastle United 1 Everton 3

Shearer pen 82 Campbell 1, 44, Gemmill 88

Half-time: 0-2 Attendance: 36,775

SOONER OR later, Everton's past is going to catch up with them. At St James' Park yesterday, though, they managed to avoid the nightmare scenario of Duncan Ferguson pushing them - Denis Law-like - deep into the relegation mire. Their former captain, with his Everton tattoo, did not appear in black and white. The towering Scot was deemed diplomatically unfit for action, despite his influential return in Newcastle's FA Cup semi-final victory last Sunday.

Ferguson, in fact, was nowhere to be seen as Walter Smith's boys in blue rolled back the years and eased the threat to Everton's 45-year top-flight status. With two first-half goals Kevin Campbell doubled his scoring tally on loan to the Toffees from Trabzonspor, joining Ferguson, Ibrahima Bakayoko and Danny Cadamarteri as one of Everton's joint top scorers in the Premiership this season. More importantly, he helped Everton to their first victory on Tyneside since Boxing Day 1986, a 4-0 success en route to a second championship in three seasons, their last hurrah as a major force.

Everton have been members of England's top division since the 1954-55 season, the most recent, coincidentally, from which Newcastle have claimed a major domestic prize. The trophy cabinet remains cobwebbed at St James', but Geordie minds yesterday were on Wembley, whence Jimmy Scoular returned with the FA Cup the year Bill Haley was rocking around the clock. On Thursday, Ruud Gullit's players were posing for the cameras in their Cup final kit and their thoughts were clearly drifting down Wembley way yesterday - as their manager lamented: "They were not hungry. They did not have Everton's desire."

They did not have the same defence which held out against Spurs last Sunday, either. In place of the injured Steve Howey and the suspended Nikos Dabizas, David Beharall and Aaron Hughes formed a teenage central- defensive partnership with a combined age of 38, just one year more than Dave Watson's.

It did not take long for their inexperience to show. With 42 seconds on the clock, the debutant Beharall was caught napping when Scott Gemmill found Don Hutchison 30 yards from goal, and the Geordie Evertonian fed the ball in Campbell's direction on the edge of the Newcastle area. While Beharall hesitated, the one-time Gunner seized his chance, firing a low shot past the diving Shay Given.

Everton, whose FA Cup hopes came to grief at St James' last month, could scarcely believe their good fortune, though they were soon obliged to make their own luck, Thomas Myhre thwarting Silvio Maric with a fine reflex save in the second minute. Myhre blocked another Maric shot before heroically saving the third opportunity that came Newcastle's way. It arrived in the 32nd minute when David Weir handled Temuri Ketsbaia's cross from the right. The Scotland right-back protested that his hand had been forced by an Alan Shearer push but Graham Poll pointed to the penalty spot and Myhre, diving to his right, pushed Shearer's kick wide.

Fortunately for Everton, Given was in less inspired form. The young Irishman keeps a vial of holy water in his goal but it did not stop him making an almighty blunder two minutes before the break. Campbell did well to meet Francis Jeffers' low cross with a first-time shot but Given was perfectly positioned to save it. Instead, however, the Newcastle goalkeeper was left clutching thin air as the ball slipped under his body.

The natives were not amused and their mood was hardly improved by the succession of chances Newcastle frittered away. Ultimately, Everton could afford the luxury of Shearer scoring with his second attempt from the spot, after David Unsworth was punished for pulling the shirt of the Newcastle captain in the 82nd minute.

With two minutes left a Hughes header dropped to Gemmill whose 20-yard volley sailed past Given at a rate of knots. It was not as spectacular as his father's dazzling effort against Holland in the 1978 World Cup but it left a big smile on his manager's face. "We're in a better position than we were two games ago," Walter Smith said. "The win against Coventry last Sunday and the one today has been good for us."

As the Everton manager made his departure, the alarm bell sounded in the press room. Everton may have avoided the ghost of Ferguson, but Graham Stuart is due back at Goodison with Charlton next Saturday. And then, of course, there is the small matter of a last-day game with another old Evertonian - the trip to Dave Jones' locker on the south coast.

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