Football: Leeds thwarted by Cottee's goal: Wilkinson sees a lead slip

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Everton . . . . .1

Leeds United. . .1

GHOSTLY Goodison, shrouded in fog and fear, was hardly the place to judge Howard Wilkinson's suitability to succeed Graham Taylor as England manager last night.

While Wilkinson's team extended their run of unbeaten Premiership games to 11, Everton's desperate need to stop the rot meant Leeds were rarely allowed to hit their free-flowing stride. They did take a 54th-minute lead through Rod Wallace, but held it for only 13 minutes before Tony Cottee equalised.

The draw eased some of the pressure on Howard Kendall, whose embattled presence on the home bench was a reminder of the vagaries of football fortune. As Wilkinson observed afterwards, Kendall was among the favourites to become England manager four years ago.

Asked how he felt about being the bookies' choice, the Leeds manager sought to sidestep the issue like the former winger he is. 'It's not my fault - I don't know how they arrive at that,' he said. 'It's something I can't deal with.' But was he flattered? 'Believe it or not, I'm past that.'

Sympathising with Taylor, Wilkinson added: 'That's a manager's lot. If you don't do what people say you should do, or what you say you're going to, that's it. It's not nice to fail especially when failure means you don't have a chance to try again.'

Everton had enjoyed marginally the better of a dour first half, with John Ebbrell coming close on three occasions. Gary Speed twice missed chances for Leeds before they went in front soon after the interval.

Within 60 seconds of seeing his booming volley headed off the line by the ubiquitous Ebbrell, Wallace raced on to Brian Deane's flick-on to dispatch his sixth goal of the season from 20 yards.

As at Tottenham on Saturday, however, Leeds could not hold their lead, and defensive hesitancy led to Cottee drilling home his first goal in eight games.

Everton (4-4-2): Southall; Jackson, Ablett, Watson, Hinchcliffe; Ward, Snodin (Stuart, 82), Horne, Ebbrell; Radosavljevic (Barlow, 58), Cottee. Substitute not used: Kearton (gk).

Leeds United (5-3-2): Beeney; Kelly, Pemberton, Fairclough, Wetherall, Dorigo; Rocastle (Whelan, 75), McAllister, Speed; Rod Wallace, Deane. Substitutes not used: Hodge, Lukic (gk).

Referee: K Cooper (Pontypridd).