Football / Coca-Cola Cup: Stuart slows Everton recovery

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The Independent Online
Everton. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

Chelsea. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

JUST when it seemed an Everton revival was safely under way, Chelsea restored the order of the recent past to force a replay in this Coca-Cola Cup fourth-round tie at Goodison Park last night.

Everton's initial relish for the occasion and Chelsea's muted response belied the recent form of the two clubs. Everton, with only two home wins this season, began with fluency and purpose.

Maurice Johnston was brought into Everton's attack for the first time in two months but it was his partner, Stuart Barlow, and the irrepressible Peter Beardsley who exposed Chelsea.

The visitors, winners in seven of their previous eight matches, appeared to have neither the wit nor the will to sustain their progress and were thankful Everton's full- back Alan Harper was on the end of Andy Hinchcliffe's cross, with the goal at his mercy. His effort was woefully mistimed.

Beardsley was twice more menacing within a minute, his header being cleared off the line by David Lee and his shot saved by Kevin Hitchcock. The goalkeeper was a mere spectator in the 24th minute, however, when Beardsley, supported by the alert Barlow, gave Everton the lead. The former England player tried his luck from 25 yards and found the top corner of Chelsea's goal.

Lee was close from a greater distance but it was a less distinguished goal which brought Chelsea an equaliser in the 31st minute. Everton, not for the first time this desperate autumn, collapsed at the back as Robert Fleck hooked the ball into the six-yard area where it clipped the unsuspecting Mick Harford en route to the far corner.

Everton commendably picked themselves up, dusted themselves down and resumed command. Barlow's personal reward came in the 35th minute when he volleyed from the edge of the area, and although Hitchcock laid a hand on the ball he could not deny the forward his first goal for Everton.

Chelsea embarked on the second half with far more zest and Southall made important saves from Graham Stuart and Dennis Wise. Fleck dragged a chance wide and Wise's audacious flick was only just off target. Despite the warning signs, Everton's defenders were static as Wise tossed in a free-kick 12 minutes from the end and Stuart punished them with Chelsea's second equaliser, his header drifting wide of the distraught Southall.

Everton: Southall; Harper, Ablett, Snodin, Watson, Keown, Kenny, Beardsley, Barlow, Johnston (Cottee, 82), Hinchcliffe (Horne, 60).

Chelsea: Hitchcock; Hall (Le Saux, 69), Sinclair, Townsend, Lee, Donaghy, Stewart, Fleck, Harford, Newton, Wise.

Referee: H King (Merthyr Tydfil).