Watson saves face for Everton

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The Independent Online
Everton 2 Stockport County 2

Everton held on to the FA Cup with unsteady hands at Goodison Park yesterday and are in distinct danger of having it wrenched from them when they confront Second Division Stockport County again in the replay on Wednesday week.

Stockport twice came from behind on a wave of fervour and self-belief, exposing all the old deficiencies in Everton's play. Devoid of genuine craft and imagination in midfield, the 1995 winners were grateful for the enduring resilience of their captain, Dave Watson.

Even the admirable central defender, however, was occasionally caught out by Stockport's swift, controlled counter-attacks, and the excellent Chris Beaumont all but plundered a winner with his last contribution to the match.

Joe Royle, the Everton manager, said; "I'm probably the happiest man in the stadium because we are still in the Cup. We were awful and they played very well."

It all seemed so straightforward for Everton when they went ahead in the seventh minute. Neville Southall's clearance deceived Stockport's defence but not Graham Stuart, who darted beyond the back line and volleyed past Neil Edwards.

But Stockport's confidence was rewarded after 31 minutes. Tom Bennett chipped the ball up to the far post, Ian Helliwell headed back, and Alun Armstrong scored from the rebound.

Everton were down to 10 men at the time, John Ebbrell having stitches put in a gashed leg, and were a player short again when they retrieved the lead two minutes before half-time when, with Edwards under pressure, the ball fell for Gary Ablett.

Edwards made a fine save from Kanchelskis and Lee Todd blocked Watson's header on the line before Stockport emerged from the trenches again to storm another equaliser. Todd's early ball released Beaumont on the right and his cross eluded Watson. Helliwell, advancing unattended, met the ball with a lunging header to beat Southall.

Goals: Stuart (7) 1-0; Armstrong (31) 1-1; Ablett (43) 2-1; Helliwell (61) 2-2.

Everton (4-2-2-2): Southall; Jackson, Watson, Ablett, Unsworth; Horne, Ebbrell (Hinchcliffe, 81); Kanchelskis, Limpar (Grant, 66); Stuart, Rideout. Substitute not used: Kearton (gk).

Stockport (4-4-2): Edwards; Connelly, Flynn, Bound, Todd; Beaumont (Chalk, 77), Bennett (Dinning, 88), Eckhardt, Jeffers; Armstrong, Helliwell. Substitute not used: Dickins (gk).

Referee: G. Poll (Tring).

Bookings: Everton: Limpar (46). Stockport: Helliwell (84).

Man of the match: Beaumont.

Attendance: 28,921.