EVERTON POLL AXED
By Alex Livie
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Sander Westerveld took a free-kick and hammered the ball into the back of Don Hutchison and it rolled into the net, but to the astonishment of the crowd the goal was disallowed by referee Poll.
A physical encounter started with David Unsworth clattering Pool’s David Thompson, action which appeared to anger the Anfield man as he received a caution moments later for a late tackle on Nick Barmby.
The first real chance, in a tight game, came on 10 minutes when Barmby attacked the Liverpool penalty box, but his low shot was comfortably saved by Westerveld.
The visitors turned defence into attack and Patrick Berger freed Michael Owen but he fluffed an opportunity to score his first goal against Everton when he shot straight at Paul Gerrard – albeit under tremendous pressure from Unsworth (pictured).
The remainder of the first half was a scrappy, lacklustre affair that will only be remembered for an injury to Emile Heskey. The former Leicester front-man went down on a number of occasions and was replaced at half time, by Robbie Fowler, suffering from muscle spasms.
Liverpool had the first chance of the second period when Steven Gerrard fired in a powerful shot that forced name-sake Paul to beat the ball clear.
The Toffees were not fazed by the visitors increasing the tempo and Welsh manager Mark Hughes broke clear of the Liverpool defence, but he showed a distinct lack of composure, scuffing his shot wide of an exposed Westerveld.
The Goodison Park side continued to press and the Dutch shot stopper was again in action when Mark Pembridge forced him to save at his near post.
The game continued to the end at a high tempo, but neither side could provide that one piece of outstanding skill that threatened to win the game. This was illustrated in the 88th minute when Berger eluded Abel Xavier and crossed for Vegard Heggem, but the Norwegian snatched at the chance, scuffing straight at Gerrard.
The game will however be remembered for the final moment of madness.
Mark Hughes was confused by the decision, saying: "I turned around and the next moment the ball was in the net. I think the blue half of Merseyside would like an explanation."
Robbie Fowler felt his side were lucky to escape, saying: "When I saw the ball hit Hutch, I thought it was game over, but I was relieved when the ref blow his whistle."
Poll gave his opinion, saying: "I looked at my watch and it was the correct time so I blew my whistle for full time. Unfortunately the players got a little confused, as they do in derby matches, but in my mind I made the correct decision."
Everton fans will, however, point to TV replays which clearly show that Poll did not put the whistle into his mouth until some moments after the ball struck Hutchison and rebounded into the net.
Everton boss Walter Smith was critical of Poll, saying: "There were two minutes of injury time and there was time remaining when he gave the free-kick, so he should not have blown for time.
"Don was not at fault because he was walking away and we did not ask the keeper to take the kick.
"I think the ref took the easy way out and made a mistake."