Football: Style eludes Kendall

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The Independent Online
Everton. . . . . .2

Leeds United. . . 0

THE Everton revival starts here. They have recorded victories over Manchester United, Aston Villa, Blackburn, Liverpool and now the current champions. So what else is needed to convince a doubting Merseyside, who contributed no more than 15,000 spectators to this event?

Style, probably. The Everton audience has never been one for mechanical victories. Goodison wants panache and big names, and although a satisfied Howard Kendall, the home manager, predicted after Saturday's game that 'the quality sides will now start to move away from the relegation zone,' most of his audience assumed he was talking about Nottingham Forest.

What he does have is fewer problems than either Howard Wilkinson or Graeme Souness. Kendall has two sound goalkeepers, a back four that is settled and composed, a midfield that may lack class but is efficient, and a collection of individual talents up front that only rarely seem to fit together. He needs, and he knows it, a quality midfielder (a gap a fully-fit Ian Snodin would fill) and a striker who is good in the air.

The Peter Beardsley-Tony Cottee combination remains his most likely striking partnership, and they were certainly too good for Leeds, who could never pin down Beardsley and found Cottee too quick and nimble.

Leeds, a year ago, were disposing of teams like Everton with conviction and purpose. Now, if Gordon Strachan has a peripheral match and Gary McAllister is committed to marking, they lack direction although, as Wilkinson, their manager, claimed, they advanced more often and attacked more frequently. 'It's the story of our season,' Wilkinson said. 'Away from home we consistently make suicidal mistakes, and what should be a comfortable job becomes a disaster. There is no pattern to it, or as to who is doing it.'

A blustery wind did not help control and Leeds supporters, despite all their recent disappointments, made more noise than a subdued Goodison.

However, the home fans found a hero in two-goal Cottee, whose eventual replacement by the electric-heeled Stuart Barlow was greeted with dismay. Cottee has only recently recovered from an Achilles injury and, as his manager explained: 'He was knackered. Even if he didn't know it.' When Barlow learns to use the space his speed creates, he will be a very interesting proposition.

Everton have now won their last two League matches without conceding a goal. The true test is now to come, away to Wimbledon, home to Norwich.

Goals: Cottee (30) 1-0; Cottee (49) 2-0.

Everton: Southall; Jackson, Ablett, Ebbrell, Watson, Keown, Radosavljevic, Beardsley, Cottee (Barlow, 73), Horne, Beagrie (Harper, 73). Substitite not used: Kearton (gk).

Leeds United: Day; Newsome (Fairclough, 65), Dorigo, Batty, Wetherall, Whyte, Strachan (Rod Wallace, 65), Shutt, Chapman, McAllister, Speed. Substitute not used: Lukic (gk).

Referee: D Elleray (Harrow).