Job tests the patience of Goodison

Everton 1 Middlesbrough 1
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The Independent Online

The clue to this game came at half-time from a man with a microphone. "I'm about to make a very special announcement," he said and, with the audience on the edge of their seats, he revealed that the substitute David Unsworth was coming on to make his 300th League appearance for Everton. The word underwhelmed came to mind.

The clue to this game came at half-time from a man with a microphone. "I'm about to make a very special announcement," he said and, with the audience on the edge of their seats, he revealed that the substitute David Unsworth was coming on to make his 300th League appearance for Everton. The word underwhelmed came to mind.

But then, it hovered at the back of the brain for most of the afternoon. Everton have been emerging with home wins recently after spending the first 70 minutes testing the patience of Goodison Park but, where it had worked against Aston Villa and Portsmouth, it fell just short yesterday.

All seemed to be going to plan when Tomasz Radzinski put Everton ahead with 12 minutes to go, but Middlesbrough have durability running through them like Blackpool and rock and of Joseph-Desiré Job equalised six minutes later. The net result was a draw that suited Middlesbrough, frustrated Everton and a match that disappointed purists.

"You have to be satisfied with a point," Steve McClaren, the Boro manager, said. "As many teams will testify, it's a difficult place to come to so we have to be delighted, especially going a goal down with 12 minutes to go." David Moyes, his Everton counterpart, was less sanguine. "Very disappointed," was his terse remark.

Radzinski replaced the injured Duncan Ferguson (last seen shaking Steffen Freund warmly by the neck) but for once Everton did not keep launching long balls in the futile hope of restoring their totemic striker to full health. Instead they focused attacks on the sprightly Radzinski and Wayne Rooney who - if Sven Goran Eriksson can take his mind off meetings with Chelsea executives - is looking confident again even if he may miss England's friendly against Sweden this week with ankle and back injuries.

Not that Everton had the Boro back four straining at the rivets to remain intact at the start and it was the visitors who first hinted at a threat when Job sped past a slumbering central defence after six minutes and was halted only by a sharp save from Nigel Martyn. Rooney's first meaningful contribution was a neat pass that Radzinski wasted by shooting into the side-netting but after 30 minutes the England striker dribbled across the Boro lines and then unleashed a right-foot drive that whistled past the far post.

This signalled greater urgency in Everton and after 38 minutes they almost broke through. Thomas Gravesen had barely found a blue shirt up to then, but his free-kick from the left was beautifully flighted to the back post where Alan Stubbs headed strongly down and the ball hit Mark Schwarzer and bounced clear.

This flurry of home activity continued after the break and Schwarzer made a more legitimate save within minutes of the break when he blocked Radzinski's shot after the Canadian had sped past Frank Queudrue. For a second it seemed the rebound was heading Rooney's way, but Chris Riggott flung himself to clear. It was Riggott to the rescue, too, after 53 minutes when Radzinski sped down the right. This time, the Boro centre-back acrobatically cleared for a corner.

Jospeph Yobo scraped the bar with a header but the natives were getting restless when a goal arrived from out of the blue. The key was a lovely volleyed pass from Kevin Kilbane that gave Radzinski space on Boro's right, and as defenders closed down, he drilled a low shot, beating Schwarzer at his near post.

All appeared lost for Boro, but they pushed everyone forward at a corner and when Bolo Zenden launched a cross from a clearance the chaos was redolent of a rugby scrum. Queudrue tried a shot, it ricocheted off defenders and attackers and finally bounced off a combination of Job and Yobo into the net. It was untidy, had errors of judgement, and summed up a scrappy game.

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