Everton slide greased by Ferguson's wild elbow

Charlton Athletic 2 - Everton 0
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Positives don't attract. Such has been the crackle of good feeling about these sides in recent weeks - all season in Everton's case - that something had to give. In this case it was the Merseysiders' resolve and, once more, the head of their former captain, sometime talisman and now full-time liability, Duncan Ferguson, who was deservedly dismissed, nine minutes after appearing as a substitute, for elbowing Charlton's Hermann Hreidarsson.

Positives don't attract. Such has been the crackle of good feeling about these sides in recent weeks - all season in Everton's case - that something had to give. In this case it was the Merseysiders' resolve and, once more, the head of their former captain, sometime talisman and now full-time liability, Duncan Ferguson, who was deservedly dismissed, nine minutes after appearing as a substitute, for elbowing Charlton's Hermann Hreidarsson.

The big Icelander had a pivotal effect on a match which appeared to be drifting towards a frustrating draw. He hoofed the ball off his own line after it had cannoned goalwards from a team-mate, helped create Charlton's first goal - and scored their second just two minutes after Ferguson's dismissal, which itself came just two minutes after the home side had taken the lead.

Quite an afternoon for the Hermannator. And for Everton's Terminator. With less than six months left on his contract it is unlikely that Ferguson, who was red-carded with just seven minutes to go, will be back. But he can have no argument with the decision. To make matters worse for Everton they lost their goalkeeper, Nigel Martyn, to a first-half injury (a calf strain with an immediate diagnosis of six weeks out) and had what appeared to be a clear penalty, when the game was goalless, turned down when Matt Holland pushed Tim Cahill.

The response of the Everton manager, given the Sphinx-like expression David Moyes adopted, was harder to read. It appeared to be angry bemusement. "It was a sending off," Moyes said when questioned about the dismissal, the seventh of Ferguson's turbulent Everton career. "Sending off, that is it," Moyes added obtusely. "Isn't it?" Maybe he was deliberately confusing his audience although Moyes said he will "do what I have to do" in considering further action. Surely that will mean a fine? "I'm not going to elaborate on it, if you don't mind," he said. "It was a sending-off." As if that had not already been established.

The sharp violence was out off keeping with the rest of a competitive but clean encounter. Indeed, Ferguson was the only player shown a card in a match which resulted in Charlton's third successive clean sheet, elevating them to seventh place, and Everton's first defeat in eight encounters. It was, in fact, only their fourth loss all season although, bizarrely, every one has been inflicted by a side from the capital. Unlikely then that Moyes will be whistling on the way to White Hart Lane this Saturday.

Charlton's Alan Curbishley, understandably, will be in chipper mood as his own side host that other north London side, Arsenal, even if he knows that results, at present, are glossing over indifferent play. He has switched to a 4-5-1 formation and although it has stemmed the goals against it has also neutered the creativity. Curbishley used words such as "lethargic" of the first half and was spot on. The period was illuminated by just one piece of quicksilver skill by Everton's Marcus Bent, who collected Luke Young's wayward header, skipped past Jonathan Fortune and shot low from 25 yards only for Dean Kiely to palm away sharply. "We needed to up the tempo," said Curbishley. But it did not help that the promising Jerome Thomas was starved of possession, while Dennis Rommedahl was, perversely, pushed infield. It was no surprise that both wingers were eventually withdrawn.

Things changed after the team talks and suddenly Everton's seasoned central defence didn't look quite so imperious even if the visitors, with Cahill finally getting forward, twice almost snatched the lead. At the other end Shaun Bartlett fluffed a one-on-one while stand-in goalkeeper Richard Wright also saved well from Radostin Kishishev's half-volley.

Then, from a corner needlessly conceded by Alan Stubbs, substitute Paul Konchesky hooked the ball back in and Talal El Karkouri rose to head home. Amid the ensuing mayhem - and Ferguson's elbow - Charlton won another corner. This time it was headed out but only to Hreidarsson, unmarked, who joyfully drove the ball inside the far post.

"We do this every year," said Curbishley. "We out-punch our weight." Unlike the bullying Ferguson, of course. "It's a shock when Everton lose now, isn't it?" said Moyes. But, unfortunately, no-one is shocked any more by their lumbering liability up front.

Charlton Athletic (4-5-1): Kiely; Young, Fortune, El Karkouri, Hreidarsson; Rommedahl (Konchesky, 79), Holland, Kishishev, Murphy, Thomas (Euell, 69); Bartlett. Substitutes not used: Andersen (gk), Hughes, Johansson.

Everton (4-1-4-1) Martyn (Wright, 44); Hibbert, Weir, Stubbs, Pistone; Yobo (McFadden, 83); Cahill, Carsley, Gravesen, Kilbane; Bent (Ferguson, 74). Substitutes not used: Campbell, Naysmith.

Referee: M Riley (West Yorkshire).

Comments