Football: Still nothing doing

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The Independent Online
Everton 0

Leicester City 0

Attendance: 32,792

ON A day when Everton's supporters were again reminded of the toothlessness of their present team, all it needed was a goal or two from Tony Cottee to bring back the ghosts of more productive times. Cottee, needing two more for his double-century in league football, scored 72 of them for Everton - or about three seasons' output for the whole team at its present rate of progress.

Everton's three goals in their first 11 games at Goodison Park represents the worst home drought in their history and a strike from their prolific old boy was a more likely proposition than one from the present crop. Although his link with Emile Heskey was not at its sharpest, Cottee was responsible for the two best chances of the first half. His clever nod through allowed Heskey to turn for a shot that was pushed out by Thomas Myhre, who also thwarted Cottee's close-range header.

Against that, Kasey Keller had to make a fine save from Ibrahima Bakayoko's volley and that, in terms of excitement, was just about it until the very end. Leicester, despite appearing to approach the game initially with limited ambitions, took control in the second half. "Overall, I thought we had the advantage in terms of possession," said their manager Martin O'Neill. O'Neill thought that Leicester might have had a penalty for Heskey being pulled back if the referee's assistant had taken a more interventionist approach and was also critical of Olivier Dacourt's tackle on Neil Lennon, which earned him a booking. There was little doubt, however, which manager was happier.

"The problem is obvious," said Everton's Walter Smith. "We are working very hard to deny other sides a lot of opportunities, but we aren't making or taking many ourselves."

Smith's mood will hardly be helped when he learns that Mikael Madar, the striker he let go, scored on his debut as Paris St Germain ended a five-match goal drought in the French League Cup. It might have been even worse for Everton had Myhre not pulled off an excellent save from Matthew Elliott in injury time and Heskey shot wide of an empty goal.

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