Football: Hignett in overdrive

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The Independent Online
Everton. . . . . . .2

Middlesbrough. . . .2

IF ANY confirmation were needed that Mega Drive games were this year's Christmas present fad then both and Everton and Middlesbrough provided it. Both teams made an excellent job of imitating Sonic the Hedgehog and both at times seem to be playing at a level of speed and skill they were not accustomed to.

All four goals came in the second half, but the first 45 minutes should have seen its own haul. Everton took the early initiative with Paul Rideout, responding to his manager's call for extra commitment, failing to take two early chances.

Ten minutes of Blues pressure then gave way to a more even game, with Middlesbrough's John Hendrie's sheer pace and strength putting the Everton defence under constant pressure.

Both sides emerged for the second half in the same attacking frame of mind with Rideout heading home from a Robert Warzycha free-kick after one minute of action. Three minutes later Craig Hignett equalised, scoring his first goal since signing from Crewe earlier this month.

Peter Beardsley was brought down by Derek Whyte, but he sprang up to put Everton ahead again on 66 minutes. However, another Middlesbrough equaliser was inevitable and Hignett scored the best goal of the game, Paul Wilkinson sliding a lovely pass through for him.

The final five minutes gave the Everton substitutes Stuart Barlow and the Serb Predrag Radosavljevic the opportunity to link up and shine. Radosavljevic's superb cross from the right wing found Barlow in the area in the last minute but he could not give Everton the edge.

Everton: N Southall; I Snodin (P Radosavljevic, 62 min), D Unsworth, B Horne, D Watson, G Ablett, R Warzycha (S Barlow, 85 min), P Beardsley, P Rideout, B Kenny, P Beagrie. Sub not used: J Kearton (gk). Manager: H Kendall.

Middlesbrough: S Pears; C Fleming, J Phillips, N Mohan, D Whyte, J Pollock (W Falconer, 75 min), J Hendrie, A Peake, P Wilkinson, C Hignett, T Wright. Subs not used: M Proctor, I Ironside (gk). Manager: L Lawrence.

Referee: R Groves (Weston-super-Mare).

Goals: Rideout (1-0, 46 min); Hignett (1-1, 49 min); Beardsley (2-1, 66 min); Hignett (2-2, 82 min).