BRADFORD CITY 0 EVERTON 1
By Planetfootball.com Staff
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
GARY NAYSMITH upstaged Stuart McCall's debut as caretaker manager for Bradford as Everton produced a smash-and-grab raid at Valley Parade.
Naysmith struck in the 86th minute to ease Everton's own relegation worries and pile the agony on the Bantams who now prop up the Premiership after Derby grabbed a point at Arsenal.
It was a game which looked as if it would end honours even between master and pupil as McCall locked horns with Everton boss Walter Smith.
Smith was the man who signed McCall for Rangers from Everton in 1991, with the veteran midfielder eventually going on to become an Ibrox hero, and the pair have since had an enduring respect for one another.
McCall showed those glory days in Glasgow did not go to waste because with the Scot in charge there was certainly no shortage of fiery commitment, which has been one of the hallmarks of the midfielder's tenacious character over the years.
It was a key element in City's survival last season, but in the last few weeks of Chris Hutchings' 137-day reign, it was certainly a facet of the team's make-up which was sorely lacking.
But McCall has said he does not want the job, taking just two days to realise the pitfalls of being in charge, with one of those in that it would curtail his playing career.
The 36-year-old conveyed his decision to chairman Geoffrey Richmond, and in doing so revealed that it felt like he had won the pools, such was his joyous relief.
Despite Richmond having received a considerable number of applications since Hutchings' departure, and many high-profile names having been mentioned, the truth is the club are in the dark as to who should become their fifth manager in seven years.
Whoever the new man eventually is, he faces the arduous task of lifting a side who are now rock-bottom in the table and on confidence in front of goal.
Everton themselves lacked any penetration until the dramatic winner, and but for a display of defiance at the back albeit against a City side with just five goals in the top flight this season then it could have been a third successive defeat for Smith to contend with.
Bradford's plight shows no sign of coming to end, and with another three `six-pointers' at Derby and Middlesbrough and then home to Coventry in the next few weeks, the situation is now critical.
McCall, at least, decided to throw caution to the wind as he looked to arrest an alarming run of one win in 12 Premiership games which led to Hutchings' sacking earlier in the week.
With nothing to lose, McCall played an attacking trio of Stan Collymore and Ashley Ward with Benito Carbone playing behind the front two.
The controversial Collymore, who missed last week's defeat at Charlton citing problems with his wisdom teeth but has decided to delay a forthcoming operation had the chances to break the frustrating first-half deadlock.
After an early 25-yard drive easily smothered by keeper Paul Gerrard, the Toffees number one then twice blocked powerfully-stuck shots in the 19th and 45th minutes.
McCall had set up the first with a curling cross from the right wing which Collymore chested down before delivering a sweet strike Gerrard was unable to hold before his defence cleared.
It was Carbone who set up the next chance with a perfect through ball into Collymore's stride, although a stumble then forced him wide, with the shot an acutely angled attempt which again Gerrard blocked.
Other than two Thomas Gravesen right-foot strikes over the bar, Everton lacked any penetration, although they came closest to scoring when Matt Clarke dropped an Idan Tal corner behind him.
Clarke, fortunate there was no Everton player steaming in to poke home his rare mistake, was able to drop on the ball just as it threatened to cross the line.
Chances in the second period were even fewer, with Whalley forcing Gerrard into a stunning 70th minute point-blank fingertip save from a powerful header.
Bradford looked worthy of a point as they had dominated in terms of possession and territorially, but then five minutes from time Naysmith struck.
Clarke spilled a drive from Joe-Max Moore, a half-time sub for Idan Tal, and there was Naysmith a £1.7 million buy from Hearts last month to stab home his first goal for the club to give Everton only their second win from their last 10 games.