Kanchelskis exposes great divide

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The Independent Online
Everton 3

Hottiger 21, Kanchelskis 86, Amokachi 90

Bolton Wanderers 0

Attendance: 37,974

IT IS a measure of how ineffectively Bolton fought for their Premiership lives here that an Everton side which did not even play very well could have doubled or trebled their margin of victory. It took a belated burst of two goals in the last five minutes to underline the inadequacy of a side that showed neither the ability nor the appetite to stay up.

The battling spirit that has sustained them through a recent revival - including three wins in their past three away matches - was unaccountably missing. When passion was needed most, it went absent in a way that suggests that the game is finally up for Bolton.

They could claim yesterday that circumstances conspired against them for Everton's first goal, scored while their central defender Simon Coleman was off the field receiving stitches.

In his absence, Duncan Ferguson, always a handful even for a fully-staffed Bolton defence, won Andy Hinchcliffe's corner in the air, and even though his header was blocked, he managed to get a foot to the rebound to send it into the path of Marc Hottiger on the right of the box. The Swiss full- back drove in his first Everton goal.

For much of the rest of the match, it was a case of Everton versus Gavin Ward, the goalkeeper signed as an emergency reinforcement from Bradford City, who must surely know now that he was not bought to stand idle. He made notable saves from Andrei Kanchelskis, Ferguson and Daniel Amokachi as Everton, frequently untidy in their approach work, were able to compile a series of openings.

Bolton had virtually nothing to offer in return. Even Sasa Curcic, so often an inspiration for them this season, was anonymous, perhaps affected by a collision with a team-mate during the warm-up, but more likely struggling to come to terms with being man-marked by sides becoming increasingly aware of his potential threat.

The bookings of John McGinlay, Scott Sellars and Jimmy Phillips, all for clumsy fouls, would be advanced as evidence of more Bolton fight in the second half. In fact, they were merely the product of continuing confusion as the Wanderers watched a game to which they could not contribute.

While Bolton remained just one goal behind, however, there was the faint chance of them somehow salvaging something from this woeful display. That prospect was, however, snuffed out in the 85th minute when, soon after Ward had needed to sprint from his line to deny Kanchelskis, Hinchcliffe sprang the offside trap to release the Russian once again.

This time Kanchelskis made no mistake, drawing the goalkeeper, taking the ball past him and scoring from an acute angle. In the five minutes remaining, the overworked Ward had to make excellent saves from Kanchelskis and twice from Ferguson, before Amokachi slipped around a rapidly disintegrating defence to find the net from a similarly narrow angle.

"I thought we won the match very comfortably," said Everton's manager Joe Royle, as he contemplated a move up into sixth place in the table. "No disrespect to Bolton; I really hope they manage it, but they have got a lot to do now."

Even Colin Todd admitted that it will take four wins from the last four games to save them now. On yesterday's showing, that is so far beyond them as to be hardly worth considering.