Football: Myhre proves an eye-opener

Barnsley 2 Fjortoft 24, Barnard 63 Everton 2 Ferguson 40, G rant 50 Attendance: 18,672
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The Independent Online
A DAY that held out the dizzying prospect of an ascent out of the bottom three ended in frustration for Barnsley, thanks to a freak goal from Tony Grant and the continuing excellence of Thomas Myhre. Grant's cross-cum-shot that floated into the top corner of the net after 50 minutes gave Everton a lead against the run of play.

They would have already been out of contention by that stage had it not been for Myhre who made a series of fine saves in a display that was a good advertisement for his contact lenses, the replacement of which held up play for several minutes in the second half.

Myhre, rapidly becoming a popular replacement for Neville Southall, a man long considered irreplaceable, had already made one important block from Jovo Bosancic before he was beaten by Jan Aage Fjortoft's emphatic header from a cross by the energetic Ashley Ward.

With the wind blustering in their faces, Everton showed few signs of their recent improved away form in the first half but, after Neil Redfearn had missed a good chance for Barnsley, they drew level five minutes before the break. A promising Barnsley attack broke down with Martin Bullock's bad pass and Duncan Ferguson, hardly sighted previously, was there to meet Mitch Ward's cross.

It was an unhappy few minutes for Everton, as Nick Barmby limped off at half-time with a groin strain that could force him to withdraw from England's squad for the B international against Chile next week.

Grant's fluke - and fluke it surely was despite Howard Kendall's insistence that "he's a talented lad who likes the odd chip" - would have flattened many sides in Barnsley's parlous position.

Myhre made splendid saves to deny a rather more calculated chip from Fjortoft and Redfearn's powerfully struck free-kick before Barnsley seized at least part of their just deserts. The talismanic John Hendrie came off the bench and teed the ball up for Ward with his first touch. Ward's shot came off the crossbar only for Darren Barnard to force the ball home.

After their stirring Cup win over Spurs in midweek, three points would have made it indisputably the best week of Barnsley's season. As it was, Myhre acrobatically kept out Arjan de Zeeuw's header and Barnsley, for all their increased confidence, remain bottom.