Football: Griffiths proves no angel for caretaker Gabriel

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The Independent Online
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MANCHESTER CITY went some way towards drowning their recent sorrows by sinking another troubled club, Everton, at a waterlogged Maine Road last night. Carl Griffiths marked his full debut for City by scoring with a 10th-minute header to make it an unproductive first match in charge for Everton's caretaker-manager, Jimmy Gabriel.

As a study in comparative crises, however, it was a surprising presentable game of football, considering that neither side have been playing very well on dry land of late.

The difference was that City's ascendancy, with the gale and billowing rain at their backs, produced the only goal from Griffiths, while Everton's later in the match merely yielded glaring misses.

On a night when sliding tackles were always liable to slither out of control - a contributory factor in four of the five bookings - Gary Ablett up-ended another City newcomer, David Kerr, as he latched on to an adventurous ball from Mike Sheron. Garry Flitcroft's free-kick was met with a crisp header from City's recent recruit from Shrewsbury and they had a lead they held despite a frantic finish by Everton. By then, Griffiths's lively and impressive contribution had been ended by a tackle from behind from Dave Watson, earning the central defender the one booking that could not be blamed on the surface.

Griffiths has now joined City's long list of knee-injury victims, but Brian Horton, no shrinking violet in his playing days, was philosophical about that and other tackles. 'There were bound to be a few going in and anyway the crowds sometimes enjoy a tackle as much as a goal,' the City manager said.

Tony Coton helped repulse Everton's late surge, making one outstanding save from Mark Ward, but he could have done little, though, if Peter Beagrie, and in the last couple of minutes, Tony Cottee, had hit the target from inviting positions.

Gabriel was rueing those misses, but praised his players' application. 'That's the sort of football I want to play for however long I'm in charge. We'll win more than we lose that way,' he said.

Manchester City (4-4-2): Coton; Kerr, Curle, Vonk, Phelan; White, Flitcroft, McMahon, Lomas; Sheron, Griffiths (Ingebrigtsen, 58). Substitutes not used: Ingram, Dibble (gk).

Everton (4-4-2): Southall; Jackson, Watson, Snodin, Ablett; Ward, Stuart, Horne (Warzycha, 62), Ebbrell; Cottee, Beagrie. Substitutes not used: Grant, Kearton (gk).

Referee: P Durkin (Portland).