Football: Everton get goal of the month

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The Independent Online
ALMOST any Everton goal at Goodison counts as a collector's item these days, but Nick Barmby's first for over a year was more rare than most. The home side's 10 men then protected that advantage sufficiently well to hang on to the tie.

It could have gone wrong for Everton straight after half-time when Michael Ball missed the most inviting of open goals and Marco Materazzi was sent off for a second bookable offence. Having lunged at Mick Stockwell in the fourth minute, Materazzi was then apparently pushed by David Johnson and reacted by aiming a kick.

Ipswich inevitably took the game to Everton but produced little more than corners until injury time, when Johnson and teenage substitute Titus Bramble got in each others' way. Deeper into stoppage time a Fabian Wilnis goal was disallowed for a push by Richard Naylor on David Unsworth.

The referee, Mike Riley, was heavily escorted to protect him from Ipswich's protests after the final whistle, but it would have been more than the First Division side deserved if they had come away with a replay pencilled into their diary.

Without their top scorer, James Scowcroft, they packed little punch up front, although Mark Venus had a free-kick deflected into the side netting, and Stockwell and Kieron Dyer had shots blocked before Everton got into any sort of stride.

Everton, prompted by Don Hutchison, who was made captain in recognition of his recent influence, gradually asserted themselves. But they took the lead six minutes before half-time in rather bizarre fashion.

Danny Cadamarteri's shot was heading for the corner flag but Hutchison chased it and put over a dipping cross, which John Oster headed onto the post. Barmby, lively in his role behind the front two, was there to despatch the rebound.

Walter Smith, though worried by adding Alex Cleland to his list of defensive casualties, was delighted with his side's spirit. But he admitted that it could have turned sour in those two minutes after the break.

"I thought it could have been the turning point at the start of the second half. Missing an easy goal and having Marco Materazzi sent off could have turned the game in Ipswich's favour," he said. "But I give credit to our players, who defended well and still contrived to make the best chances after that."

The pick of the bunch came when the substitute, Michael Branch, slid his shot past the far post after being sent through by a splendid pass from Hutchison. Matt Holland also cleared off the line from Cadamarteri. For all the lack of the passing fluency Ipswich have sometimes shown in the First Division, the potential was always there for a nerve-wracking finale.

Predictably, Smith saw a clear push before the ball found the Everton net in added time but Ipswich's George Burley was baffled. "I didn't really see much in it," he said. "But we are out of the cup and there is nothing we can do about it. It was harsh to disallow it, but we didn't create enough chances. We had a lot of corners and free kicks but Everton defended very well. I can see why they've not conceded many goals."

Their problems in scoring many remain, but this time Barmby's rarity was enough.