Football: Southall proves a saviour

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

Ablett 50

Leicester City. . . .1

Draper 81

Attendance: 28,003

THERE is still no sign of how or when Everton might win a game. In escaping with their third home draw yesterday Mike Walker's side remained less School of Science, more St Trinian's. They were willing enough, they largely obeyed their manager's wish to attack the opposition rather than wait to be attacked but it was all desperate stuff.

Leicester are not proving to be the soft touches deemed at the season's start but that does not make them a team to be feared and it seemed ridiculous that Everton had made clear at the start that this was a vital game. With a touch of luck and a Neville Southall who did not insist on playing like the goalkeeper of five or six years ago, Leicester might have won. Southall has been the victim recently of the fans' disaffection.

He found the best possible riposte with a series of startlingly agile saves. The one which he produced to tip a fierce shot from the winger Franz Carr on to and over the bar was vintage stuff. In front of him, there lurked nothing quite so spectacular.

Walker revamped the side by playing three centre-backs, with one of them, Gary Ablett, responsible for covering for David Burrows who was allowed to roam forward almost at will from his customary left-back position. If this gave Everton a slightly lopsided look it promised to bring some reward. Burrows clearly relished the role and several times made incursions into the Leicester box. His cross from the left provided the clearest chance of the first half when Daniel Amokachi's shot was cleared off the line.

Still, there was little cohesion to Everton's play as the proceedings wore on and the most pleasing sight of the match was Mark Draper, bristling with cheeky confidence in the Leicester midfield, and always looking to complement the pace of Julian Joachim at the front.

It was Everton who deservedly took the lead six minutes into the second half. Dave Watson's header from Vinny Samways' corner was saved and Ablett managed to squeeze in the rebound at the post. If this was the fillip that Everton needed it simply did not show.

Leicester began to attack, if not at will, then often enough to cause serious concern. Southall kept them out three times and could not be faulted for the 81st-minute equaliser. Joachim swept down the right, split the defence with his pass inside and Draper picked his spot in the bottom right-hand corner with admirable care.

Leicester probably should have won it afterwards. Everton's disarray and growing lack of assurance was obvious. Any semblance of craftsmanship disappeared and even Samways seemed at a loss.

'What we want is a win by three or four goals and not to concede any in reply,' Ablett said. 'That would set us up.' He did not go on to suggest how this might be achieved.

Walker said he would consider whether to keep the new system while the Leicester manager, Brian Little, said they would have settled for a point at the start but in the event were a trifle disappointed.

Rightly so. Outside the Everton ground is a building with a sign saying it is to be a splendid new souvenir shop for the club. It is boarded up and derelict and still looks in better shape than the team.

Comments