Football: Everton walking tall: Chelsea dwarfed

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The Independent Online
Everton. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4

Chelsea. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

SUDDENLY, big is bountiful for Everton, long renowned for their vertically challenged strikers. Coping with a couple of six-footers proved a tall order for Chelsea, though the more telling difference proved that size is not everything.

The crucial contribution, notwithstanding three goals by the high-rise duo of Paul Rideout and Brett Angell, came from another new partnership, between John

Ebbrell and Graham Stuart at the heart of Everton's midfield.

Glenn Hoddle, Chelsea's injured player-manager, complained that it had been the sort of match where his granny would have had time on the ball. His frustration was understandable - the visitors' performance was so anaemic it should have been accompanied by a sick note - but the Everton engine room deserved to be exempted.

Ebbrell and Stuart, 24 and 23

respectively, are probably not on Terry Venables' list of ones to watch. Both players, graduates of the FA National School, have lived on potential too long. Ebbrell is in his fifth season as a first-teamer, while Stuart's signing - from Chelsea, ironically - had been regarded as Howard Kendall's final folly.

Under Mike Walker's wing, 'promising' may no longer be a

euphemism for frustrating. For the second successive League game at Goodison - in which, incidentally, Everton's 10-goal haul represents one more than Walker's former team, Norwich, have mustered at home all season - Ebbrell scored inside five minutes. Since he averages a goal every 18 games, this represents a surge in productivity.

Surprisingly for a natural attacker, Stuart has yet to find the net, but made goals for Rideout and Angell. He and Ebbrell, paired only because Barry Horne and Mark Ward were suspended, moved the ball quickly and accurately in the manner to which their new manager was accustomed in Norfolk. Consequently, Everton's wide men enjoyed a plentiful supply of ball with which to furnish the front two.

Walker's sense of progress was tempered by the booking which will deprive him of Ebbrell for two matches. He also bemoaned the slackness which led to Mark Stein scoring for the seventh consecutive Premiership fixture, but had far less cause for a huff than Hoddle.

The sharpness of Stein, pocket- sized proof that goalscorers come in all shapes, was the sole redeeming feature of Chelsea's first defeat in nine matches. They face an FA Cup replay at Sheffield Wednesday this week - 10 days too soon for Hoddle - when another such showing would reduce the season to nothing more than a relegation fight.

Hoddle's parting shot was a new variation on the manager's eternal lament. 'We laid out our plans in the dressing-room, and the battle cry went up,' he explained. 'But by the time I got to my seat, they were a different team. Something must've happened to them going down the tunnel.'

Goals: Ebbrell (5) 1-0; Stein (24) 1-1; Rideout (26) 2-1; Rideout (38) 3-1; Angell (85) 4-1; Stein pen (86) 4-2.

Everton (4-4-2): Southall; Jackson, Snodin, Ablett, Hinchcliffe; Radosavljevic, Stuart, Ebbrell, Beagrie; Rideout, Angell. Substitutes not used: Moore, Barlow, Kearton (gk).

Chelsea (4-4-2): Kharin; Clarke (Newton, h/t),

Sinclair, Johnsen, Donaghy; Burley, Spackman, Peacock, Hopkin (Barnard, 66); Shipperley, Stein. Substitute not used: Hitchcock (gk).

Referee: B Hill (Kettering).