Wednesday August 13 19693
MANCHESTER UNITED 3 (Labone og 31, Kidd 62, Best 80)
EVERTON 1 (Royle 61)
This was a game to savor. Two very good sides who are aiming for their just rewards at the end of the season and who understand every point counts. In the end it was the creativity of United rather than the endeavor of Everton that won the day.
The first half was full of hard running and desperate defending by both teams. This resulted in few clear cut chances and the two best ones fell to the home side.
On the quarter hour mark the mercurial Best spun round two Everton defenders and delivered a pass to Law inside the Everton penalty box. Law was so tightly marked by Wright he could feel him breathing down his neck. Yet Law rarely needs more than a micro moment to create something dangerous. With a deft lowering of his shoulder, he swiveled past Burns and shot hard. To Everton’s luck it hit Brown and the wicked deflection zoomed away from the goals.
Just after the half hour mark United took the lead. This time Everton’s luck deserted them. The goal came at the end of chest crushing pressure from United that had resulted in two corners that Everton desperately scrambled away for a third. From the corner the ball whistled in and Kidd’s header was heading wide. With the help of the gods, it deflected off the unlucky Labone and into the net. Everton’s work meant nought as the Merseysiders entered the break a goal down.
Everton were a transformed unit in the second half and they took to the game with gusto. Three minutes into the second half Ball took advantage of a United defensive mistake to rocket a shot in, only to witness the ball ricochet off the post and away from danger.
Everton didn’t have to wait long for the equaliser. Around the hour mark the Toffees’ intense pressure on the United goal was rewarded with three successive corners. From the third corner Everton’s Hurst was the highest in air but could only manage to deflect the ball behind him. In stepped Royle and with a sliced shot the ball hit the post and scampered along the line. It hit a diving Rimmer and trickled over the line for Everton’s equaliser.
While this might have lifted Everton further, it was United who took control of the game from that moment on, while Everton trailed in their shadow.
From the kick off United pushed forward with a great deal of momentum. Two passes later Charlton had laid it off for Kidd who duly made it 2-1 to the home team. The hard work that Everton had put in to gain the equaliser had disappeared in a mere moment. And they weren’t given any breathing space after that.
Man Utd made it safe with ten minutes to go when a Charlton chip found Best on the edge of the Everton penalty box. With a deft touch Best created some space for himself and delightfully stroked the ball into the top corner.
While Everton could be pleased with aspects of its attacking play, it must be a concerned that they didn’t take more advantage of their opportunities.
Whatever the expectations of the two teams today one thing never fails to be noted season after season: it’s difficult to beat United at Old Trafford.
Manchester United: Rimmer, Brennan, Burns, Crerand, Foulkes (Givens), Sadler, Morgan, Kidd, Charlton, Law, Best.
Everton: West, Wright, Brown, Jackson, Labone, Harvey, Husband, Ball, Royle, Hurst, Morrissey.
The news of the day was that Crystal Palace conceded another two penalties with its game against Sunderland.
Crystal Palace 0 Sunderland 3
Newcastle 1 Sheffield Wednesday 0
Tottenham 2 Burnley 1
Wolverhampton 2 Southampton 0