After a bright beginning, Tottenham faded alarmingly and were mightily relieved when the final whistle signalled the end of Everton's waves of attacks that should have yielded at least one goal.
The teams had made similar starts to the season, winning their opening game and drawing the next in midweek. The difference has been in the quality of opposition, Everton beating Newcastle and taking a point off Manchester United while Tottenham won at unsettled Blackburn and drew at home to promoted Derby County.
Spurs' concession of a last-minute goal to Derby prevented them from going to the top of the embryonic Premiership table and had much to do with the absence, after his broken leg sustained at Ewood Park, of Gary Mabbutt's organisational qualities in defence.
In Duncan Ferguson, Everton possess one of the early season's attention- seizers, his towering performance that eclipsed Alan Shearer last Saturday being followed by two goals at Old Trafford. In their only change yesterday, Everton brought in the composed Tony Grant for the committed John Ebbrell in midfield. Tottenham replaced Darren Anderton, who has a groin strain that will keep him out of England's match in Moldova next Sunday, with Jason Dozzell.
Tottenham scarcely had need of Ferguson's early shove on Ian Walker to be reminded of his presence. Although Sol Campbell kept close tabs on him, no doubt seeking to impress Glenn Hoddle, Spurs concentrated on cutting the supply line, David Howells especially working hard to deny the Everton midfield the chance to feed Andrei Kanchelskis wide on the right.
The Ukrainian did escape for a 30-yard shot on goal which Walker turned aside, but Spurs quickly grasped the initiative with Teddy Sheringham at the heat of some inventive movement. First he dummied Ruel Fox's corner to let in Howells for a shot that was scrambled away, then let a ball from Howells pass, enabling Dozzell to escape for a shot which he hit straight to Neville Southall from a promising position.
More good chances followed when Fox volleyed Andy Sinton's cross goalwards, only for Andy Hinchcliffe to head clear and Sheringham nodded down for Chris Armstrong, only for the ball to be hooked over the bar. An interruption to the flow came, however, when Armstrong was forced off the field after appearing to turn an ankle, to be replaced by Ronny Rosenthal.
With Armstrong gone as an outlet willing to chase the clearance from defence, Everton breathed more easily and for a while comfortably contained. Their threat at the other end consequently grew gradually and they came close just before half-time, David Unsworth escaping to meet Hinchcliffe's free-kick, but unable to climb high enough to direct it towards goal.
With Grant's skills coming to the fore, Everton took control of the game early in the second half and created a flurry of chances from which should have come a lead. The most glaring miss was that of Craig Short, who headed down and wide from Stuart's cross after the Spurs defence had dealt inadequately with a long throw.
Ferguson also headed wide from Hinchcliffe's corner, then almost got on the end of Kanchelskis's cross after Grant had sent him racing clear on the right with a perceptive pass. Walker's goal was now under siege. Hinchcliffe's cross shot from the left flew just past one post; Kanchelskis's from the right just past the other.
To Tottenham's relief, the Everton storm blew itself out for a while and they enjoyed the respite. After Earl Barrett fouled Rosenthal, Sheringham curled a free-kick too high and soon after Dozzell forced Southall into a diving save, hooking in a shot after Rosenthal had flicked on Fox's cross.
Everton soon gained their second wind, however. Hinchcliffe's corner from the left, a continual source of concern for Tottenham, was met by Ferguson at the far post and after Unsworth had failed to connect with his header back across goal, Stuart dived in to head for the corner. It took a fingertip save by Walker, touching the ball on to the bar, to save Spurs. They barely deserved the escape.Reuse content