Football: Walker has his feet on the ground: Everton earn breaks in illusory spree

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Everton . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6

Swindon Town. . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

MIKE WALKER'S record at Goodison this season now comprises two games, the first having been Norwich's 5-1 canter against Howard Kendall's side, and two four-goal wins. No wonder he calls it his lucky ground, though this success may have been rather too fortuitous for the new Everton manager's liking.

Walker's resort to a phrase normally used by straw-clutching losers - 'some good things came out of it' - revealed that he realised Swindon had not received their share of the breaks. Whatever other attributes he brings to the role, Walker would do well to retain this sense of realism.

The moment that sparked off Everton's illusory spree, by the end of which they had equalled their goal tally for the previous 13 matches and Tony Cottee had a hat- trick, came in the 49th minute. Swindon's Andy Mutch, back in his native city, used an arm to swat aside John Ebbrell as he himself was being fouled.

Enter Gerald Ashby, the referee who deemed Mark Hughes's malicious kick at a Sheffield United player to be a second bookable offence rather than one meriting instant dismissal. If Mutch had any right to feel aggrieved, it was because he now went straight for the red card.

The effect of the perceived injustice was initially to inspire Swindon, then trailing 2-0, to draw level. The Wiltshire contingent taunted Walker with 'You should've stayed with the Norwich', and Everton regressed into their pre-Christmas state before fate again mocked Swindon.

Terry Fenwick was ruled, somewhat harshly, to have fouled Peter Beagrie. Everton regained the lead from the free-kick, though even then Jan Age Fjortoft nearly made it 3-3 with what would have been the goal of the game.

But three more in the last seven minutes as the Swindon 10 tired - including a penalty awarded on a linesman's say-so (and far less blatant than the one denied to their former player Alan McLoughlin at Old Trafford in midweek) - turned victory into a rout.

Not that Everton's win was undeserved. A fresh face at the top has clearly lifted confidence in the manner managerial changes tend to do. And Swindon's suicidal defending made them ideal opponents, not only for for Walker's home debut but also for Cottee's foil, Brett Angell.

The 6ft 2in striker from Southend had already inspired an 'Angell Delight' headline in the Echo, with the promise of 'Angell of Mersey' and wordplay linking his name with that of Jimmy Gabriel to come. However, a lack of match-fitness means judgement must be deferred on whether he is the powerful forward Everton need.

At best, Angell may prove a useful stop-gap until Walker can recruit high-class reinforcements. In Swindon's case, the only reinforcing was of their affable manager John Gorman's persecution complex. As the old blues refrain has it, if it were not for bad luck he would have no luck at all.

Goals: Ebbrell (5) 1-0; Cottee (43) 2-0; Moncur (56) 2-1; Bodin (61) 2-2; Ablett (72) 3-2; Cottee (83) 4-2; Cottee pen (89) 5-2; Beagrie (90) 6-2.

Everton (4-4-2): Southall; Jackson, Snodin, Ablett, Hinchcliffe; Ward, Horne, Ebbrell, Beagrie; Cottee (Barlow, 90), Angell. Substitutes not used: Stuart, Kearton (gk).

Swindon Town (4-4-2): Hammond; Fenwick, Whitbread, Taylor, Horlock (Nijholt, 78); Summerbee, Ling, Moncur, Bodin; Scott (Fjortoft, 78), Mutch. Substitute not used: Kerr (gk).

Referee: G Ashby (Worcester).

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