Football: Walker trips up

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The Independent Online
Leeds United 3

McAllister 72, Watson og 82, White 90

Everton 0

Attendance: 35,487

FROM trophies to near catastrophe: Everton's honours- studded association with England's most eminent division is within 90 minutes of ending.

Even victory for the Premiership's 20th-placed side against Wimbledon at Goodison Park next Saturday may prove insufficient to extend Everton's 40-year stay among the elite if their relegation rivals exploit games in hand.

Mike Walker's side had hoped to pre-empt such a fretful finale by recording their first victory at Elland Road in 43 years, but their early profligacy was eventually punished by a rejuvenated Leeds after the break. 'We played them off the park in the first half,' Walker said, 'but if you don't take your chances you don't win games.

'We don't want to go down. It hurts your own pride and the club's prestige because the top is the only place to be. When I came here (from Norwich in January) Everton had not been setting the world alight for some time.' On his decision to leave Carrow Road, Walker was in Edith Piaf mode. 'No regrets. I was put in a position where my job was not tenable.'

Norwich will disagree, but neither club has truly prospered since Walker's controversial move, although Everton started yesterday in spirited fashion. But it was not to be, the inaccuracy of Tony Cottee and Paul Rideout allowing an initially lifeless Leeds a second chance.

Rideout, Brett Angell's replacement, was the principal transgressor, volleying wide from Graham Stuart's right- wing centre in the 23rd minute and then, five minutes later, heading wastefully over from Anders Limpar's perfect cross.

Cottee, seeking his 100th Everton goal, was equally imprecise in front of John Lukic. Limpar and the bullish Stuart linked up pleasingly in the 27th minute only for Cottee to shoot too close to Lukic. The diminutive forward then squandered another opportunity, again following good work between Stuart and Limpar.

Reprieved, Leeds looked more like England's fifth- placed team after the interval and the 66th-minute introduction of David White turned the game. The winger's persistence set up the eighth goal of the season for Gary McAllister, the Scot scoring with a low 20-yard shot from right to left.

White, whose impact must have worried the injured Brian Deane, dominated the final eight minutes. First his awkward cross was turned past Neville Southall by Dave Watson before, in injury time, he curled a fine shot around Everton's hapless Welsh goalkeeper, who can expect a more sustained bombardment from the Dons next weekend.

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