Blackburn Rovers 1 Everton 1: Beattie and Johnson give McClaren little to savour

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Steve McClaren made Ewood Park the latest stop on his voyage of discovery as the new England coach, with the Everton forwards James Beattie and Andy Johnson presumably the focus of his attention last night. However, McClaren will have learnt little he did not already know about the two strikers, who made a negligible impact as Everton struggled woefully and should have conceded more than the goal scored by Benni McCarthy.

McClaren, also witnessed a thoroughly impressive performance from the other Rovers' striker Jason Robert, who chose Grenada ahead of England as a 19-year-old. The pair troubled Everton persistently, as David Moyes' team were inferior in every other area of the pitch on a night when they had barely carved out a chance before Tim Cahill produced an undeserved equaliser six minutes from the end.

And they might even have gone on to win if the referee, Uriah Rennie, had not turned down a 90th-minute penalty when Andy Todd brought down Johnson.

Moyes said: "We didn't deserve to get our penalty against Watford on Saturday, but we didn't get one tonight. I couldn't believe that it wasn't given."

Even the Blackburn manager, Mark Hughes, had some sympathy with the visitors. "The Everton fans certainly thought it was a penalty and my initial thought was that it could have been," Hughes said.

But Hughes was more concerned about his own team and there was much to encourage him, particularly in the link-up between McCarthy and Roberts, who was denied a goal only by the outstretched leg of the goalkeeper Tim Howard within two minutes.

It was the first indication that Blackburn were in the mood to make amends for their opening-day defeat at Portsmouth, and others followed rapidly.

McCarthy, unmarked at the far post, met Morten Gamst Pedersen's intelligent header with power, but no accuracy in the 14th minute, seconds before Roberts exposed Everton's two central defenders. He overpowered Alan Stubbs near the halfway line and accelerated into the area before turning inside Joseph Yobo and steering his shot wide of the far post.

With McCarthy also driving a shot too close to Howard after being played in by Roberts, it proved to be an awkward half for Everton and Blackburn's overdue goal finally arrived five minutes after the restart. Bentley played a significant role in the goal as his single-minded charge into the area was halted by a tackle from Yobo. The ball fell to McCarthy, who stretched to slide the ball into the far corner from 16 yards.

Beattie's miserable night in front of McClaren was mercifully ended when he was substituted only 19 minutes into the half, but a late surge by Everton was rewarded in the 84th minute when the ball rebounded to the substitute Cahill off the post and he finished well.

Hughes said: "I never felt we were in danger of losing the game until they got the equaliser. I'm disappointed not to get three points, but the performance level was what I expected."

Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2): Friedel; Reid, Todd, Khizanishvili, Gray; Emerton, Savage, Bentley (Gallagher, 74), Pedersen; McCarthy, Roberts (Jeffers, 80). Substitutes not used: Brown (gk), Kuqi, Mokoena.

Everton (4-4-2): Howard; Neville, Yobo, Stubbs (Lescott, 48), Naysmith; Osman, Arteta, Carsley, Kilbane (Cahill, 64); Beattie (McFadden, 64), Johnson. Substitutes not used: Wright (gk), Davies.

Referee: U Rennie (S Yorkshire).