Football: More blues for Walker

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Sheffield Wednesday. . . . .5

Jones 11, Bart-Williams 43, Worthington 76,

Bright 81, 87

Everton. . . . . . . . . . .1

Cottee 76

Attendance: 24,096

THE distinguished have become dishevelled: Everton's 40- year residency in England's foremost division is in increasing danger of ending. A fourth defeat in five Premiership games, at the hands of a vastly more enterprising Wednesday side, dragged the Merseysiders down another rung to 17th - within range of Sheffield United, who at present occupy the third relegation position.

Yesterday's events did Mike Walker's men no favours as wins for the Blades, Manchester City, Oldham and Tottenham exacerbated Everton's comprehensive defeat. The Goodison club, on 37 points with only six games remaining, will not need reminding that Crystal Palace were relegated last year with 49 points.

'We are obviously very disappointed,' Walker said. 'It's up to us now to knuckle down and work hard for the six games left. We can't rely on other teams.'

Walker's side, who had warmed up enthusiastically to 'I Will Survive', used Ian Snodin as a sweeper in their five-man defence, a safety-first tactic that brought a rare point at Aston Villa in midweek. Wednesday needed only 11 minutes to find a way through.

Chris Bart-Williams engineered Wednesday's first with a strong run along the inside-left channel. His cross was eventually cleared by Everton's inexperienced centre-half, Neil Moore, but only to Michael Williams, whose astute lay-off invited Ryan Jones to try his luck from the edge of the box. The Welsh Under-21 midfielder, whose gait and touch are reminiscent of Chris Waddle, placed a low shot past Neville Southall for his sixth goal of a promising season.

A lull then ensued, enlivened only by enthusiastic applause as the half-naked Wednesday fan, 'Tango Man', took his seat. The fans' attention was turned back to the field as the match turned inexorably against the visitors in a three- minute spell before half-time. Brett Angell squandered an easy chance to equalise when, unmarked at the far post, he headed Anders Limpar's cross wide. Punishment duly followed when Bart-Williams impressively tamed John Sheridan's free-kick before turning his marker, Dave Watson, and drilling a low shot between Southall and his right-hand upright.

Walker removed Moore at the break, introducing Tony Cottee in a more attacking 4-4-2 approach - a move Trevor Francis had expected. 'It left more openings for us,' the Wednesday manager said, 'and the goals came.' They certainly did: four in the final 15 minutes. Wednesday's third arrived in bizarre fashion when John Ebbrell's deflected clearance looped back to Nigel Worthington and the Irishman emphatically beat Southall from the left.

From the kick-off, Cottee notched Everton's first goal in almost seven hours with a low strike following a strong run but Wednesday had not finished. Two right-wing breaks by Bart- Williams brought Mark Bright a late brace, the first from a close-range shot, the second an imperious header - his 20th of the season.