Martyn torments Everton: Football

Leeds United 1 Everton 0
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The Independent Online
It cannot be much fun being Joe Royle at the moment. Everton are disintegrating quicker than the Government and ill luck seems to be giving him such a regular pummelling that you could be reasonably sure that whoever piled on the angst in this match, there would be an undercurrent flowing. Or in Nigel Martyn's case a raging torrent.

Everton and Martyn have a history, to the extent that the club's financial director, Clifford Finch, accused him of being mercenary when he chose to join Leeds instead last summer. The goalkeeper, meanwhile, has said that he would have moved to Merseyside if there had been more effort to make him feel welcome: like Royle or the chairman, Peter Johnson, finding reasonable time to talk to him.

On Saturday it was apparent who has suffered more. Martyn had already produced an exemplary performance that included a textbook block on Michael Branch as the youngster had a free run at the goal, when he confounded Royle and Everton with a save of outstanding quality in injury time.

Gary Speed was no more than six yards out when Paul Rideout's cross from the right reached him and there was little wrong with his header. The ball shot quick and low to Martyn's right but the keeper fell and stretched in a flash, his arm clawing it away to Speed's astonishment. Everton had been denied a point they deserved and dearly need.

"I think Ray Clemence, England's goalkeeping coach, was here today," George Graham, the Leeds manager, said sardonically, "so no doubt Nigel will get a bad report. He has been fantastic this season. I can't believe he's not in Glenn Hoddle's squad.''

Martyn is playing better than Ian Walker but Hoddle inexplicably preferred the Spurs goalkeeper for last month's World Cup qualifier against Italy. The fact Walker needed pain-killing injections to play at all made the decision even more incomprehensible.

Which was of little consolation to Royle whose sad countenance afterwards implied his problems are so great he could not care less who the England goalkeeper is. Everton have lost nine out of their last 13 matches.

Royle ascribed this latest setback to a lapse in concentration that allowed the game's outstanding player, Robert Molenaar a free header from Lee Bowyer's 28th-minute corner.

Saturday's performance was far better than the pathetic showing against Arsenal eight days ago and if Terry Phelan had been sharper with his shooting in the first 20 minutes Royle might have been contemplating a win. The proposed pounds 5m signing of Slaven Bilic is vital now if only to lift spirits.

"It should be resolved one way or another early this week," Royle said. You hope for his sake negotiations are conducted in a better manner than Martyn's.

Goal: Molenaar (28) 1-0.

Leeds United (3-5-2): Martyn; Molenaar, Wetherall, Harte; Halle, Palmer, Rush, Bowyer, Sharpe; Deane, Yeboah. Substitutes not used: Wallace, Gray, Ford, Jackson, Beeney (gk).

Everton (3-5-2): Southall; Short (Rideout, 81), Watson, Unsworth; Barrett, Thomsen, Parkinson (Stuart, 6), Speed, Phelan; Barmby (Branch, 59), Ferguson. Substitutes not used: Hottiger, Speare (gk).

Bookings: Leeds: Palmer, Deane, Harte; Everton: Speed.

Referee: M Bodenham (East Looe, Cornwall).

Man of the match: Molenaar.

Attendance: 32,055.