THEY USED to be on opposite sides of Glasgow's great divide, but now Duncan Ferguson and John Collins fight from the same corner, and Everton are slowly profiting from an unholy alliance of tribal loyalties and, indeed, of very different footballing qualities.
An away-day to Wimbledon was, on the face of it, one better suited to the combative Ferguson. He has been there, scored there and (qualifying as an honourary member) probably bought the Crazy Gang T-shirt. What seemed crazy on Saturday was that the home team relied on Chris Perry - conceding eight inches and four stones - to control him. For all Perry's qualities, it was a mismatch, which Ferguson won by heading the decisive goal from David Unsworth's cross.
Collins, once a puller of strings in Celtic's midfield, is still reluctant to hit too many long passes towards the former Rangers striker's head, partly because both tend to operate in the inside-left channel, which minimises the effectiveness of such a ploy. He can, however, offer other routes through or round a defence, as well as supplying wide-players like Unsworth and Don Hutchinson.
As opportunities for midfield players to do that against Wimbledon are often limited, Collins was pleased to have survived the culture shock. "It's a very difficult place to come, not a place for purists," he mused. "But the game settled down in the second half and we got a very good result." It was only obtained after going a goal behind to Andy Roberts' low drive from more than 25 yards out, which, without taking any obvious deflection, seemed to wrong-foot Thomas Myhre.
Danny Cadamarteri came inside Perry to equalise with his first senior goal for almost exactly a year. Twelve months ago, the teenager was being praised to the skies after scoring in successive four games, the last of them against Liverpool. Now, with the arrival of Ibrahim Bakayoko, the Ivory Coast striker, for pounds 4.5m from Montpellier, he can only hope to keep his place for the derby game on Saturday week.
Walter Smith has certainly been allowed to undo the purse strings, to an extent that must make Wimbledon's Joe Kinnear weep (and Howard Kendall too). Smith's only disappointment on Saturday was that another expensive import, Olivier Dacourt, collected his sixth yellow card of the season and will therefore miss the Liverpool game. Having claimed not to have heard the whistle before shooting at goal, Dacourt may wish to compare notes with Paolo Di Canio about the refereeing of Paul Alcock. Fortunately, the Frenchman was too far from the official for any laying-on of hands, and merely sank to his knees in despair.
Goals: Roberts (8) 1-0; Cadamarteri (32) 1-1; Ferguson (59) 1-2.
Wimbledon (4-4-2): Sullivan; Cunningham, Perry, Thatcher, Kimble; Hughes, Earle, Roberts, Euell; Gayle (Kennedy, 83), Leaburn. Substitutes not used: Ardley, Heald (gk), Cort, Francis.
Everton (4-4-2): Myhre; Short, Watson, Materazzi, Unsworth; Hutchinson, Dacourt, Collins, Ball; Cadamarteri, Ferguson. Substitutes not used: Cleland, Spencer, Gerrard (gk), Farrelly, Jevons.
Referee: P Alcock (Sevenoaks).
Bookings: Wimbledon: Hughes. Everton: Dacourt.
Man of the match: Ferguson.
Attendance: 16,054.Reuse content