Everton 3 Fulham 1: Beattie's cool finishing leaves Fulham whistling Dixie

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Theatrical people are prone to sweeping statements and Bill Kenwright is no exception. If he is uneasy about one comment, however, his comparing James Beattie to a latter-day William Ralph Dean would be surely be it.

"Come and be our new Dixie," were the sugared words the Everton chairman used to lure Beattie from Southampton to Goodison Park, since when the striker has been more Torvill and Dean than the greatest scorer in the Merseyside club's history. That is slips and posturing - and without the medals by way of compensation.

Beattie's career record (78 goals in 243 appearances) cannot compare with Dean's (473 in 502), but if he played sides as insipid as Fulham every week he would get a lot closer. In this game Beattie looked dangerous and got a goal double; Dean at his most innocuous would have been nearing double figures.

Yet even Dixie would have been hard pressed to have scored a better goal than the one Beattie got in the 36th minute. Tim Cahill tapped the ball back to him and, noticing that Tony Warner had strayed fractionally from his line, the striker chipped exquisitely over him. A physicist drawing the perfect arc for the ball to elude the Fulham goalkeeper could not have done a better job with a computer program.

"Things come off when you're high on confidence," Beattie said. "It's the best goal I've ever scored for Everton."

Add a typically robust penalty and an assist for James McFadden's equally spectacular goal and it was a good match for Beattie and one that was made more satisfying because it was witnessed by Dean's grandson, Matt, who was visiting Goodison for the first time after spending much of his life in Australia.

It will be a match that Beattie will remember and, you suspect, Chris Coleman will find it hard to erase from his memory, too. The Fulham manager arrived in the press room long after the match had finished and if the tone of his language had been moderated by an hour-long rant at his players, you can only imagine how brutally frank he was in the privacy of the dressing-room.

"Terrible", "depressing", "underachieving" and "poor" were included in his first two sentences and the improvement Fulham showed in the last 10 minutes, when Collins John gained and scored a penalty, merely underlined for Coleman what should have been. His side have yet to win on their travels in the Premiership this season, but this was a seriously inept performance.

There is a danger that Fulham could be dragged into the relegation mire that is only a few points behind them, although Coleman could see some light through the red mist. "We've got some home games that should see us OK at the end of the season," he said as he drew breath from his rage. "But are we happy at finishing fourth or fifth from bottom? I'm certainly not."

Thank goodness, Fulham have some easy fixtures in the next seven days: Liverpool at Anfield and Chelsea at Craven Cottage. Oh dear.

Goals: Beattie (13, pen) 1-0; Beattie (36) 2-0; McFadden (55) 3-0; John (pen, 86) 3-1.

Everton (4-4-2): Wright; Hibbert, Weir, Stubbs, Valente (Davies, 78); Osman, Cahill (Van der Meyde, 83), Neville Arteta; Beattie, McFadden (Kilbane, 78). Substitutes not used: Westerveld (gk), Yobo.

Fulham (4-4-2): Warner; Volz, Knight, Bocanegra; Rosenior; Malbranque, Elliott (Christanval, 43), Pembridge, Boa Morte; McBride, Helguson (John, 74). Substitutes not used: Crossley (gk), Goma, Jensen.

Bookings: Everton Neville, Stubbs; Fulham Rosenior, Bocanegra.

Referee: U Rennie (S Yorks).

Man of the match: Beattie.

Attendance: 36,515.

Comments