Sheffield United. . .2
THREE wins out of three, three goals for Tony Cottee and top of the Premiership - much more of this and we shall have to take Everton seriously again.
Sheffield United certainly did. In a fine flowing game they chased, hurried and tackled as if it was one of their annual relegation battles.
But no amount of graft could suppress Everton's desire for goals. Having flirted with relegation last season they look at last to have added a mean streak to their game. Peter Beagrie roamed the wide open spaces on the left. Paul Rideout, who may well have been shaken up by his manager's summer search for his replacement, was in the thick of things and Cottee looked more like the pounds 2m player Howard Kendall paid West Ham for five years ago.
Of his strike force the Everton manager said: 'Cottee's general play was superb - he's linking well with Rideout who has had three superb games for us and showed people what he can do, which he didn't last season.'
Yet the loss of a goal within a minute (their first conceded this season) was not the start Kendall wanted, especially as it was a self-inflicted wound. Mark Ward underhit his back pass and Dane Whitehouse easily rounded Neville Southall to convert.
However by half time the boot was on the other foot, notably that of Cottee after Everton scored twice in 10 minutes. First Cottee volleyed a fine equalizer after exchanging passes with Beagrie then he cut the ball back for John Ebbrell to hammer home.
From then on it seemed a question of when Everton would score next. And United put such enormous effort into the search for an equaliser that Cottee got his second after he finished off Rideout's flick.
That should have been that but Alan Cork pulled one back seconds from the end before Cottee nodded in Paul Holmes' deep cross for his hat-trick.
Everton (4-4-2): N Southall; P Holmes, M Jackson, G Ablett, A Hinchcliffe; M Ward, G Stuart (S Barlow 71 min), J Ebbrell, P Beagrie (P Radosavljevic 48 min); T Cottee, P Rideout. Subs not used: J Kearton. Manager: H Kendall.
Sheffield United (4-4-2): A Kelly; M Ward, J Pemberton, D Tuttle (P Beesley 45 min), T Cowan; C Bradshaw (A Cork 62 min), P Rogers, W Falconer, D Whitehouse; J Flo, A Scott. Sub not used: S Tracey (gk). Manager: D Bassett.
Referee: D J Gallagher (Banbury).
Goals: Whitehouse (0-1, 1 min); Cottee (1-1, 35 min); Ebbrell (2-1, 45 min); Cottee (3-1, 84 min); Cork (3-2, 89 min); Cottee (4-2, 90 min).