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The Everton captain Dave Watson, whose injury-time equaliser in the first game forced this replay, defused premature Palace celebrations again last night at Selhurst Park with a brace of goals to send Everton on their way to a lucrative home tie with Manchester United in the fourth round of the Coca- Cola Cup.
Everton are a team who blow either hot or cold, as one draw in 14 League games would suggest. Last night they were like a roaring furnace that engulfed a Palace side who failed lamentably to re-establish the authority they had demonstrated up at Goodison.
If they were unfortunate not to win then from two goals up the bad luck would appear to be habit-forming since they lost a two-goal lead, and the match, at Notts County last Saturday, too. Palace must hope that last night's thumping reverse has no lasting effect upon their ego if they are to remain on course for the Premiership.
Yet it had all started so encouragingly for them, taking the lead after 20 minutes with a 30-yard opportunist strike from Gareth Southgate that bounced just before Neville Southall, possibly deceiving the Everton goalkeeper in the process.
But even at that stage there was a resoluteness about Everton, a determination to give a better account of themselves and in the opening quarter of an hour Richard Shaw was having to clear from his goal- line as Mark Ward attempted to hook in a difficult chance.
Everton were without their in- form winger, Peter Beagrie, because of injury and had attempted to counter his absence and possibly exploit a Palace weakness, too, by switching the two wide men, Ward and Predrag Radosavljevic. It was from an inswinging corner on the right by the left-footed Yugoslav that Everton deservedly equalised after 31 minutes, Watson rising above a gaggle of players to score with a downward header.
Palace's defending, specifically their marking, left a lot to be desired and Tony Cottee, the diminutive Everton forward, emphasised the point with a free header that whistled past Nigel Martyn's far post.
After 54 minutes Palace were staring at their first home defeat of the season. A Ward corner was headed out by Chris Coleman only as far as Gary Ablett who planted a more deliberate one in the direction of Watson.
The central defender chested it down before hoisting it over Martyn with the adroit touch of an accomplished finisher. Whereupon he wheeled away on a victory run that threatened to take him half- way up the M1.
Not even the loss of Paul Rideout, who was carried off in the 67th minute on a stretcher after a collision with Eric Young suffering from mild concussion, could slow Everton's charge.
After 81 minutes they scored a third from a penalty by Ward when Martyn brought down Cottee earning a booking in the process. Two minutes later the Eagles were well and truly downed, Young adding insult to injury by heading a cross by Radosavljevic into his own net.
If they expected sympathy from their manager Alan Smith, they certainly did not get it. 'There was an inconceivable naivete and softness about us,' he said. 'It's something I've got to deal with quickly. We have to start facing up to the hard facts of life.'
Crystal Palace (4-4-2): Martyn; Humphrey, Young, Coleman, Shaw; Bowry (Williams, 62), Southgate, Rodger, Mortimer; Armstrong, Whyte. Substitutes not used: Osborn, Woodman (gk).
Everton (4-4-2): Southall; Holmes, Watson, Jackson, Ablett; Radosavljevic, Horne, Ebbrell, Ward; Cottee, Rideout (Barlow, 67). Substitutes not used: Stuart, Kearton (gk).
Referee: R Bigger (Norfolk).
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