Aston Villa 1 Everton 0
"That's not bad, a good five minutes in today," mumbled Brian Little to himself as he fielded his first query of the day concerning Savo Milosevic, his grossly overpriced Yugoslav striker, at the after-match press conference. Still no inkling of the profligacy he had promised from the player he bought on the strength of a video viewing - in fact not even a goal at Villa Park - but much to his relief another blockbuster performance from co-striker Dwight Yorke.
Apart from rescuing this match from the total anonymity of a goalless finish, the Tobagan's seventh goal of the season helped keep the spotlight from dwelling too long on Little's most imprudent signing. "He kept the ball moving more today and charged things down," was the most he could say about a player who at pounds 3.5m ought to be the finished article rather than someone to mould into shape.
Heaven help Villa - and Little - should Yorke's goal supply dry up. They don't have too many other sources. At least they have something to dry up. All that's flowing in the Everton camp is an unending run of failure; they haven't won a league game since 30 August and as long as they continue to substitute strikers with defenders with almost a third of the game still to run so it is likely to remain. Meanwhile Anders Limpar remained on the bench until all was as good as lost.
For that reason, if nothing else, Villa just deserved a victory which stemmed the rot of two consecutive league defeats. But the lack of guile, and therefore goalscoring opportunity, was disconcerting for a side which purported to be championship contenders. Little seems to have realised as much and was sensibly playing down such aspirations afterwards, saying: "If you look at the table we're in the right section which is a big boost."
Yorke apart, only the tidy performance of Gareth Southgate in his mopping- up role at the back was cheering for the home supporters, whose appreciation otherwise was of a more cynical nature as efforts by Paul Rideout and Milosevic, old boy and new, whistled wide of the target.
The midweek signing from Nottingham Forest, Carl Tiler, deputising for the injured Paul McGrath, struggled with the pace of the game after a lay off and eventually succumbed to a hamstring injury, but at pounds 750,000 he at least looks better value than some I could think of.
One could not help but feel for Dave Watson and Gary Ablett who had managed to get a foot in the way of all and sundry until the 76th minute, when Matthew Jackson momentarily lost sight of Yorke as he headed home the cross of the disappointing Mark Draper.
"It's puzzling," said Joe Royle, the Everton manager, "how a team who gained a reputation for being hard to beat last season has become such a soft touch in certain areas this season."
Goal: Yorke (76) 1-0.
Aston Villa (3-2-3-2): Bosnich; Ehiogu, Southgate, Tiler (Scimeca, 75); Charles, Wright; Taylor, Draper, Townsend; Milosevic, Yorke. Substitutes not used: Johnson, Spink (gk).
Everton: (4-4-2): Southall; Jackson, Watson, Ablett, Hinchcliffe (Limpar, 77); Kanchelskis, Stuart, Ebbrell, Samways; Amokachi (Unsworth, 64), Rideout. Substitute not used: Kearton (gk).
Referee: K Burge (Tonypandy).Reuse content