Everton's new breed helped by Ferguson

Everton 1 Fulham 0
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The Independent Football

Everton may not score many goals, but they concede fewer and the essential requirement for winning football matches served them handsomely again at Goodison Park yesterday, where a second-half goal from substitute Duncan Ferguson enabled them to finish their 14th game of the Premiership season with a sixth 1-0 win.

Everton may not score many goals, but they concede fewer and the essential requirement for winning football matches served them handsomely again at Goodison Park yesterday, where a second-half goal from substitute Duncan Ferguson enabled them to finish their 14th game of the Premiership season with a sixth 1-0 win.

Ferguson, yet to start a Premiership fixture this season, had been on the field less than three minutes when he provided the decisive moment, earning a result that cuts the gap between Everton and second-placed Arsenal, held at home by West Bromwich Albion, to only two points. All the more reason for Tomasz Radzinski, who left Goodison in the summer after predicting a dire future for the club, to cut a sheepish figure as he boarded the Fulham team coach to return to London.

The hostility this corner of Merseyside feels towards Radzinski could hardly have been more vociferously demonstrated. The Canadian striker's remarks, made before Fulham stepped in to fulfil his desire to leave Everton, had guaranteed the nasty reception he was given yesterday.

Having accused his former manager, David Moyes, of being "unable to make a decision", he forecast another season threatened by relegation for his old team-mates and claimed that Marcus Bent, the striker Moyes signed from Ipswich, was essentially not good enough. He also said Wayne Rooney would be better off leaving.

Rooney clearly agreed with him on the last point, although there are grounds for suggesting that Everton are better off without Rooney, rather than the other way round. If his departure and Goodison's current buoyancy of dressing-room morale are unrelated, they are linked as a happy coincidence if nothing else.

Third place at this stage of the season was not in the summer thoughts of many Evertonians, let alone Radzinski's. The only thing slightly spoiling the story so far is the team's frequent failure to cap their well organised, hard-working game with more than an occasional goal.

Seven at home in seven matches is too small a return from a team with designs on staying near the top, although Moyes, as yet, is unperturbed. "I like to think there is more to come from us, but I'd answer that question by pointing out that we are two points behind Arsenal and for the moment I'm just enjoying being in that position," he said.

None the less, in a tepid first half, until Leon Osman forced a fingertip save from Mark Crossley a minute from half-time, a header from Tim Cahill, nicely executed but well over the top, was the solitary threat to Fulham's goal.

Not that Fulham did any better. The first save Nigel Martyn was required to make on his 800th appearance in club football had come only three minutes earlier. Just as well he made it, given that the man meeting Mark Pembridge's well flighted cross with a thumping header was Radzinski.

The second half, however, promised better from the home side and at last delivered, in the 67th minute. By then, the veteran Crossley had thwarted them again, twice, saving a Cahill header and diverting a long-range effort by the tireless Bent.

But he was beaten, gallantly, by the intervention of Ferguson, sent on to add height to the front line after 63 minutes and on the scoresheet four minutes later. Thomas Gravesen's corner was headed powerfully goalwards by Kevin Kilbane, Crossley again saved but in doing so merely knocked the ball up for Ferguson, stooping, to nod home.

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