Fowler salvages only local pride

Everton 1 Liverpool 1
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The Independent Online

Everton 1 Liverpool 1

A goal by Robbie Fowler three minutes from time gave Liverpool a deserved share of the points from a Merseyside derby played in appalling conditions at Goodison Park last night.

Although Fowler's volleyed equaliser from Stan Collymore's cross was greeted with delight among the minority red contingent in the crowd, this was a negative result for both camps, not enough to sustain Liverpool's lingering Premiership hopes but a blow to Everton's prospects of European qualification.

Each side had half a match in which they could have turned dominance into a heavy haul of goals, but it was Liverpool, unlikely underdogs in recent derby history, who created more in the final analysis.

That was a pattern that was hardly imaginable in the first half when Everton, enjoying the mud and water far more than their visitors, showed a greater appetite for the proceedings.

While Liverpool struggled in vain to adapt their more cerebral style to the quagmire, Everton disregarded all such niceties and hammered the ball down field in a bid to force mistakes.

That was precisely the way they created their goal, Neville Southall lifting his clearance into the Liverpool half and John Ebbrell getting outside a defence that was caught napping by how far the ball had travelled.

Ebbrell did well to pull back his shot from a near impossible angle and on to the crossbar. With David James stranded, Andrei Kanchelskis, who had already failed to connect with two promising chances, got in ahead of Rob Jones to first knock the ball down and then shoot home.

Everton, with Kanchelskis's pace always a threat even in ankle-deep water, could have had more to show for their willingness to contend with the realities of a night that was never made for subtlety, but they were rocked by a complete change in Liverpool's attitude and approach after the break.

Liverpool had treated the messier areas of the pitch with a mixture of disdain and trepidation, but at half-time they decided that this playing surface was the one they were stuck with and they had better make the best of it.

Nobody exemplified that better than Collymore. Even with his confidence boosted by being named earlier in the day in Terry Venables' England squad to play Croatia, he had been an anonymous and frustrating figure in the first half.

Once he dropped deep to adopt a roving commission, however, he was a constant problem for Everton, having two good efforts well saved by Southall and seeing another, the best of the lot, fly back off the crossbar from all of 30 yards.

With time running out, Collymore's wanderings took him on to the left wing and his whipped cross was met on the volley by Fowler, whose relatively quiet night ended in delight.

It was not enough to cause any alarm to the two Uniteds ahead of Liverpool in the Premiership table, but it at least spared them the ignominy of losing twice to their neighbours in one season.

"We deserved something in the end," the Liverpool manager, Roy Evans, said. "But in terms of the championship that has probably finished it. It is still mathematically possible, but that is the end of it."

Everton's manager, Joe Royle, was left to lament the late impact of a boyhood Evertonian. "He had hardly had a touch before that," he said of Fowler. "But then he pops up and scores the goal, which is what he does."

Everton (4-4-2): Southall; Hottiger, Watson, Unsworth, Hinchcliffe; Kanchelskis, Grant, Horne, Ebbrell; Amokachi (Stuart, 55), Ferguson. Substitutes not used: Limpar, Short.

Liverpool (5-3-2): James; McAteer, Wright, Scales, Ruddock (Rush, 85), Jones; McManaman, Redknapp (Thomas, 85), Barnes; Fowler, Collymore. Substitute not used: Warner (gk).

Referee: D Elleray (Harrow).

Sunderland win, results, page 29