Dane grates in battle of the dinosaurs

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The Independent Football

One of the advertising hoardings inside Goodison Park is for a scaffolding company who advocate that they provide a "24-hour erection service". In truth, there was little else on show yesterday to uplift the crowd. The fact that Tottenham will be the happier of these two disappointing sides, because they earned only their third point away from home all season, says much about the quality of the game.

One of the advertising hoardings inside Goodison Park is for a scaffolding company who advocate that they provide a "24-hour erection service". In truth, there was little else on show yesterday to uplift the crowd. The fact that Tottenham will be the happier of these two disappointing sides, because they earned only their third point away from home all season, says much about the quality of the game.

The Everton faithful were reminded of their club's glorious past when the championship-winning team of 1969-70 was paraded in front of the crowd before kick-off. "Those were the days," you could hear frustrated fathers telling their sons, as the likes of Gordon West and Howard Kendall were greeted to rapturous applause.

Even as recently as a decade ago, an EvertonTottenham game would have been the match of the day; the sort of vibrant fixture both players and fans look forward to. Yesterday, this was a meeting of old managerial minds, ancient clubs and prehistoric playing styles.

Lining up in the blue corner ahead of the battle of the dinosaurs were Everton, who had scored only one goal and taken only one point from their previous six Premiership matches. An added concern for the home side was the fact that they had defeated the visitors only once in their last 17 meetings.

So statistics suggested Everton were unlikely to start the match in confident fashion. And so it proved, as Walter Smith's patched-up team worked hard to get themselves into promising situations, before all too often committing an unforced error.

In the white corner were Tottenham, another of the one-time top-five clubs in the country. George Graham's men arrived at Goodison with a return of just two points from their season's travels, which is easily the worst away record in England. The news that Sol Campbell and Les Ferdinand would miss the match through injury did nothing to increase the odds for a thriller.

Both teams started the game with 51 Premiership goals between them this season - the same number as the leaders Manchester United - so perhaps their inability to break the deadlock in the opening period should have come as no surprise.

Apart from a stinging left-foot drive by Thomas Gravesen and a well-directed header from the returning Kevin Campbell, which were both expertly parried by the Tottenham goalkeeper Neil Sullivan, the only other first-half action of any significance came in the form of two closely followed free-kicks. Both were given on the edge of the area, and both nearly produced the opening goal. First Tim Sherwood's fierce drive forced a good save from Thomas Mhyre and then Stephen Hughes shot just wide of Sullivan's goal at the other end moments later.

Smith must have made his feelings very clear during the break because his team came out fighting for the second half. It is typical of Everton's poor run of luck throughout the present campaign, though, that when Campbell finally beat Sullivan six minutes after the restart, his low left-foot drive found its way on to the foot of the far post before rebounding to safety.

Everton's pressure was relentless, as they sought to clinch all three points. But Tottenham are resilient in defence, if uninspiring in attack, and they some how managed to hang on for the draw. Truth be told, it looked like they had settled for a point long before the final whistle and it will worry Graham that none of his senior players seemed capable - or, worse still, interested - in taking the game by the scruff of the neck.

Of the English players, only the young Ledley King acquitted himself in the Tottenham midfield. The best performance, however, came courtesy of a balding Dane. Sven Goran Eriksson was never likely to choose this fixture for his Premiership baptism. If he had, the new England coach would have had only one thought: "If only Gravesen was English."

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