Ginola's magic fails to entrance Crewe

Everton 0 Crewe Alexandra 0
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The Independent Online

Not even the persistent threat posed by David Ginola's determination to impose his presence on this tie could deny the First Division strugglers, Crewe Alexandra, a second chance to reach the quarter-finals. Dario Gradi's well organised side, fearful of a relegation struggle after being beaten 6-1 at home in their most recent league action, were rarely seriously threatened by an Everton side who were booed off at the close.

Walter Smith, the Everton manager, might feel Crewe benefited from some generous refereeing by Uriah Rennie but could hardly argue that his side deserved to win. Not until the substitute Joe-Max Moore unleashed a stinging low drive three minutes from the end did Everton cause anything resembling a heart-in-the-mouth moment for the visiting defence or their commanding goalkeeper, Clayton Ince.

Indeed, although Crewe were unable to generate many threatening moments at the other end, they went close to pulling off an upset 16 minutes from time when Rob Hulse, a 21-year-old centre forward who worked impressively throughout, hit the crossbar with a clever attempt to hook David Wright's low cross over the head of Steve Simonsen.

That followed two decent first-half attempts from the head of Hulse's 18-year-old strike partner, Dean Ashton, which only added to the frustration felt by the home supporters at their own team's lack of a creative edge. Ginola, in his second game since his move from Aston Villa, did his utmost to find weak spots in Crewe's defence and worried them constantly in spite of close marking, although his crosses were inevitably dealt with by the bandanna-wrapped head of the centre-half Efe Sodje or else the hands and fists of Ince, who had been recalled after the regular goalkeeper Ademola Bankole let in six at home to Coventry last week.

Smith turned to Paul Gascoigne in the final half-hour, having preferred to start with the £2.5m import Tobias Linderoth, which must have been a relief to Crewe after Gascoigne's virtuoso performance against Leyton Orient in the fourth round. His entrance brought the biggest cheer of the afternoon but there was to be no repeat show.

Instead, Smith was left to clutch at straws, wondering whether referee Rennie might have seen fit to award a penalty when Sodje and later Neil Sorvel inadvertently used their hands to control the ball inside the box.

"I've no real quibble with the decisions, although they were of the kind that you would sometimes see given," Smith said. "You just hope these things balance out over a season, although they are not really balancing for us just now."

Gradi saw enough to believe his side, who stand 20th in the First Division, can win next week's replay, although he admitted that the extra match was not welcome, and regretted his side not having done enough to win. "We knew we could hold them but I was disappointed because we only got our game plan going every now and then," he said. "We were playing too many long balls and I wanted us to play a better standard of football, even though I never felt we looked like conceding."

He added: "We have a great chance to go through ­ but it will not help us survive in the First Division, and it would have been nice to have had a bit of luck with the one that hit the bar."

Everton (4-4-2): Simonsen; Clarke, Weir, Stubbs, Naysmith; Alexandersson (Gascoigne, 62), Gemmill, Linderoth (Pembridge, 73), Blomqvist (Moore, 71); Campbell, Ginola. Substitutes not used: Gerrard (gk), Unsworth.

Crewe Alexandra (4-4-2): Ince; Wright, Sodje, Walton, Smith; Lunt, Brammer, Sorvel, Vaughan (Rix, 56); Hulse (Foster, 90), Ashton (Jack, 66). Substitutes not used: Bankole (gk), Collins.

Referee: U Rennie (Sheffield).

Bookings: Everton: Moore. Crewe: Walton.

Man of the match: Ince.

Attendance: 29,399.