Football: Cottee has final word

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Blackburn Rovers. . .2

Everton. . . . . . . 3

THERE MUST be something about Everton and Tony Cottee that does not agree with Kenny Dalglish. The last time he faced his old Merseyside rivals, Cottee scored twice in that memorable 4-4 FA Cup draw. Hours later, Dalglish had resigned as Liverpool's manager, complaining of the stress of life at the top.

Last night, Everton pursued him to Ewood Park and Cottee again scored twice to inflict on Dalglish's new charges their first Premier League defeat and deny Blackburn the chance of regaining the leadership. For Dalglish, it is still tough at the top.

Despite losing Mark Ward with a broken leg and Paul Rideout with a shoulder injury, Everton played with enough composure and determination to suggest that, in a season in which it is fashionable to be unfashionable, this branch of the old aristocracy, at least, cannot be written off.

At Blackburn, of course, where Jack Walker's millions have provided Dalglish with a powerful embrocation against the strains of management, Everton are the poor relations, and Alan Shearer - who himself scored twice to become the League's leading scorer - has the weight of being Britain's most expensive player, once Cottee's burden.

But if the role was unfamiliar, Everton took to it with enthusiasm. Andy Hinchcliffe's 25-yard free-kick had Bobby Mimms scrambling at the near post in the opening minute, and then a delightful reverse pass from Peter Beardsley released John Ebbrell, only to shoot straight at Mimms.

But the bright start was dimmed after eight minutes when Ward was stretchered off following a foul for which Mark Atkins was booked.

The substitute, Robert Warzycha, was barely on the pitch before David May's through ball split Everton's defence.

Hinchcliffe merely delayed the inevitable by tripping Shearer, who scored his seventh goal of the season from the penalty spot.

Everton drew level after 22 minutes, but only at the third attempt. Hinchcliffe's cross was headed against the bar by Warzycha, and it rebounded to Cottee, whose header was parried by Mimms before he finally forced the ball over the line.

Everton now took a grip of the game which culminated in Warzycha beating Tony Dobson, the Blackburn full-back, on the right and screwing the ball back for Ebbrell to score.

Nevertheless, Neville Southall had to preserve their lead with a superb reflex save.

Alan Wright's free-kick found Mike Newell, whose powerful header was turned against the underside of the bar from point-blank range.

Shearer seemed to have saved it for Blackburn when he stuck out a foot to deflect Jason Wilcox's cross past Southall, but Cottee's second, tapping in Warzycha's cross, gave Everton their just desserts.

Blackburn Rovers: Mimms; May, Dobson (Wilcox, 57), Sherwood (Wegerle, 71), Hendry, Moran, Ripley, Atkins, Shearer, Newell, Wright. Substitute not used: Dickins (gk).

Everton: Southall; Harper, Hinchcliffe, Horne, Watson, Ablett, Ward (Warzycha, 8), Beardsley, Rideout (Jackson, h/t), Cottee, Ebbrell. Substitute not used: Kearton (gk).

Referee: D Allison (Lancaster).

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