At that point, Everton were threatening to overpower their visitors with a refreshing blend of football previously absent in the Duncan Ferguson reign. His exit to Newcastle has eradicated the blinkered obsession with an early punt up to their treasured target man. Now the midfield pairing of John Collins and Don Hutchison are more than merely by-passed spectators and the variety of options provided by the cunning movement of Danny Cadamarteri and Ibrahima Bakayoko, had a lacklustre Chelsea defence stretched to breaking- point.
The departure of Wise, for a second bookable offence, forced the manager Gianluca Vialli to reappraise his ambitions and, while Cadamarteri continued to sparkle outside the area, Everton failed to turn their domination into clear-cut chances. The writing was on the wall for Wise by the fourth minute when a late trip on Cadamarteri earned the first yellow card, one of six shown in the first half by Gary Willard.
The second caution, for a late tackle on Marco Materazzi in an innocuous position, was predictably senseless and clearly tested the patience of Vialli. "The less everybody says about Dennis Wise the better it would be for Chelsea, referees, the English game. The referee did not perform at his best, probably, in the first half," observed the Chelsea manager, who was openly pleased with the draw.
"Before the match we were confident but when they had a man sent off we played much better and had one or two good chances. In the last 20 minutes I think we should have won the game. In the first half they played better than us, so a draw seems to be a fair result," added Vialli.
Everton's numerical advantage was erased by the departure of Richard Dunne for two clumsy, bookable challenges, That signalled a new lease of life for Chelsea and Tore Andre Flo in particular in the dying stages. One deflected shot from Roberto Di Matteo looped over Thomas Myhre on to an unguarded post and Flo himself shot inches wide after wriggling clear of the defence.
Upon Wise's dismissal, with Gustavo Poyet a first-half casualty with a knee injury, Chelsea packed midfield and defence in their quest for a point. Cadamarteri remained a threat, his twisting strength a constant headache for players of the calibre of Marcel Desailly, Franck Leboeuf and Albert Ferrer, but clear-cut chances were rare.
The display failed to provide the Everton manager Walter Smith with firm evidence of a solution to his striking problem. "It's not so much a new start. I think we're still in the process of changing. We'll obviously have a few games before we settle on our best partnership up front. We thought we played reasonably well when the game was even in terms of numbers. I am a bit disappointed we didn't create more chances during that period," said Smith.
Everton had opened like a side who had been scoring goals for fun at home, not two all season. Bakayoko, neatly set up by John Collins, skidded a low drive inches wide of the post and Materazzi was equally close to the horizontal with a subsequent free-kick.
For all Everton's superiority, the mercurial Chelsea side managed to maintain their own threat. Flo slipped through the grasp of Dunne but, coming under frantic pressure from Materazzi, he placed his shot high and wide.
Cadamarteri revelled in his new responsibilities and a clever ball from Michael Ball behind the defence created space but a poor touch ruined it - a scenario that became agonisingly too common as Everton strived to break the deadlock.Reuse content