Football: Panto time at Everton

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

Southampton. . . . . . . . . . . . .1

EVERTON contrived to check Southampton's recovery and enhance their own prospects of retaining Premier League status at Goodison Park yesterday.

There may have been little of the quality we ought to expect at this level and the goals were aided and abetted by the opposition. But then hapless defending tends to spawn incident and there was no lack of activity in the penalty areas.

Peter Beardsley, as ever, represented Everton's main source of inspiration and guidance and he and his colleagues just about deserved their victory. With a little more care and fortune he and his front-line partner, Paul Rideout, would have added to their goals and spared Everton desperate closing minutes.

Matthew Le Tissier's perception and touch are never in question but too often they produced only frustration for his team- mates. Le Tissier could not have been handed a better start. Everton's goalkeeper, Neville Southall, gathered a fifth-minute throw-in but, challenged by Ken Monkou, merely held the ball out to Le Tissier, who promptly planted it into the unguarded net.

Everton should not have been unduly concerned. Six minutes later, Southampton reciprocated. Barry Horne intercepted a sloppy clearance and the ball ran on to Beardsley, darting into the area. There was an inevitability about his tumble as Tim Flowers rushed from his goal. Neutrals were suspicious, Southampton's faithful incensed, yet the penalty was awarded and Beardsley equalised. The trappings of panto season were confirmed when the referee, Michael Peck, discovered there really was someone behind him after whistling for offside. He acknowledged his error and gave a drop ball, and the mistakes by both defences served to encourage the two attacks.

Neil Maddison headed straight at Southall from close range, Beardsley almost turned in Peter Beagrie's cross, then Rideout and Beardsley had shots beaten out in a congested Southampton area. Flowers blocked the ball again the instant it left Rideout's forehead.

Defenders and goalkeeper alike were rather slower reacting after 35 minutes, however, and Southampton found themselves behind when Rideout was allowed to turn and shoot into the bottom corner.

Southall passed his next test, early in the second half, tipping over a header from Iain Dowie. Flowers stretched to turn away a chip seemingly destined for the head of Rideout, and moments later scrambled the ball clear with the striker again threatening. Southampton, who introduced Kerry Dixon for Dowie, summoned a frantic finale but Southall and friends resisted to keep their precious three points.

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

Southampton: T Flowers; J Kenna, M Adams, T Hurlock, R Hall, K Monkou (J Dodd, 71 min), M Le Tissier, P Groves, I Dowie (K Dixon, 62 min), N Maddison, F Benali. Sub not used: I Andrews (gk). Manager: I Branfoot.

Referee: M Peck (Kendal).

Goals: Le Tissier (0-1, 5 min); Beardsley pen (1-1, 11 min); Rideout (2-1, 35 min).

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