Football: Yorke pushes Everton closer to edge

Everton 1 Madar 38 Aston Villa 4 Joachim 12, Charles 62, Yorke pen 72, 81 Attendance: 36,471
Click to follow
The Independent Online
THERE is a growing sense of deja-vu about Goodison Park these days. They play the theme from Z Cars as the teams run out, Howard Kendall is well into his third spell as manager, and even Peter Beagrie has returned to grace the ground on which he last performed his somersaults four years ago.

The usual end-of-season crisis is at hand, too, with Everton's heaviest League defeat of the campaign being followed by that harbinger of Spring, the first sighting of a protest against the board. Yet until they committed footballing suicide in the final half-hour, Everton seemed capable of recording a second consecutive victory.

Their Scottish international striker, Duncan Ferguson, who was due to return after suspension, failed a pre-match fitness test after tweaking a knee in training, yet they scarcely missed him. Ferguson's replacement and fellow Scot, John Spencer, playing only his second match on loan from QPR, has formed such an effective rapport with Mickael Madar that Kendall may be reluctant to interrupt it.

Villa's early lead came against the run of play. Mark Bosnich had turned aside a goal-bound header from Spencer and Madar had also gone close, before Julian Joachim started and finished a neat move with a close-range header from Gary Charles' cross.

Everton deservedly drew level before the break and it was inevitably their Franco-Scottish alliance which was responsible, Madar deflecting Spencer's 25-yard shot past Bosnich. Villa looked rattled, as their uncertainty turned to indiscipline, with Ugo Ehiogu and Mark Draper both being booked.

Joachim and Dwight Yorke eventually began to suggest that Stan Collymore's long-term absence can be overcome, but it was a misplaced pass by John Oster which altered the course of the match irrevocably. He gave the ball away to Alan Wright, whose fellow full-back Charles turned up on the right of the penalty box to sidefoot a volley past Thomas Myhre.

As so often happens, Everton began to chase the game and left the back door open. Joachim burst into their penalty area to be brought down by Craig Short and Yorke scored from the spot. Beagrie came on 13 minutes from the end to replace the unfortunate Oster, but by then there was little chance he was going to be able to reprise the goal-scoring celebrations for which he is remembered.

Instead it was Yorke who was celebrating again nine minutes from time, after Lee Hendrie slid the ball beyond the Everton back four. Yorke beat Myhre to it and skipped round him.

So the Villa revival continues under John Gregory who said: "When Everton equalised I feared the worst, but we showed a lot of character. It was a fantastic team performance." Kendall blamed injuries and suspensions for Everton's problems. "We were without pounds 15m-pounds 20m of talent today. We are now in a battle for survival."

It will continue at White Hart Lane on Saturday when Everton take on their fellow strugglers Spurs. Kendall is confident they will survive, but the only Everton old boy capable of guaranteeing that would probably be Dixie Dean himself.