Football: Everton stranded in enterprise-free zone

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The Independent Online
Everton 0

Wimbledon 0

Attendance: 28,533

Many more displays like this and Everton supporters might encourage a move to Dublin. While a point provided meagre consolation, Howard Kendall's men languish near the bottom of the table and provided few signals of an imminent recovery yesterday.

Wimbledon had to share the blame for a dreadful game in front of Everton's lowest home League gate of the season. Christmas shopping was the preferable option. Neither side lacked commitment, but initiative and strategy were sorely missing - although both teams could at least plead restricted playing resources. Nowhere were the deficiencies more evident than in the respective attacks, with barely a legitimate chance on offer.

Even the normally optimistic Kendall struggled to strike a positive chord. "It was a dour first half but we were a bit more positive when I changed things after half-time. We had half- chances but I wouldn't say we had a clear-cut chance.

"It is another two points gone at home, and teams coming here will know how much the three points mean to us in the position we are in. I thought the two strikers were lively enough, but I wanted it wider more often, and we played to their strengths with long balls," the Everton manager said.

Kendall's counterpart, Joe Kinnear, was keen to put his side's apparent lack of ambition into context. "We have seven players missing and we are down to the bare bones. It is a good point for us and a bad point for them. I thought we would be under the cosh but we are not going to lie down for anybody. Our main priority is to make sure we are in the Premiership next year," Kinnear said.

First-half enterprise was as rare as dragon's teeth. The best, and first, chance fell to Nicky Barmby after 20 minutes when the Wimbledon central defenders allowed a Danny Williamson ball to drift into the penalty area. Barmby's stretching shot was dragged wide of the target. A Stale Solbakken header was disallowed for an infringement by Carl Cort, the provider of the initial flick-on.

Craig Short was both villain and hero in the space of a minute as the first period limped to a conclusion. Having been unable to prevent a header flying over the Wimbledon bar, the central defender was alert in his own box to steal the ball from the toes of Cort right in front of the home debutant goalkeeper, Thomas Myhre.

The second half was little better, Everton struggling to turn marginal superiority into chances. Only when Kendall introduced substitute John Oster into attack and switched Danny Cadamarteri to the left of the front three were inroads made. The teenager, though, failed to test Neil Sullivan with two shots inside the area and ran out of space later when fed through by Oster. In the dying minutes Sullivan dealt effectively with a fierce shot from Andy Hinchcliffe, parrying for a corner.