Tuesday 21st September 1993 – Lincoln City 3 Everton 4 (Coca Cola Cup Second Round First Leg)
The previous meeting between Lincoln City and Everton in the League Cop took place just under 26 years ago in a two-legged Second Round tie.
Former youth team coach Keith Alexander had taken over as manager of the Imps prior to the last game of the previous season with the departure of Steve Thompson who had paid the price for failure to reach a play-off place. However, a poor start to the season in Division Three (now League Two) with only one win in seven games saw City currently in 19th place in a 22-club division. To brighten things a little progress had been made in the League Cup with victory over Division Two side Port Vale on the away goals rule in a two-leg tie.
Football League champions six years earlier, visitors Everton had finished mid-table in the first season of the FA Premier League and after briefly topping the table in August were currently in fourth place following a 2-0 home win against rivals Liverpool the Saturday before.
Everton manager was their former midfielder Howard Kendall who in his first spell in charge at Goodison Park could boast two league championships and an FA Cup win, but since his return to the club in November 1990 the Toffees had only managed two mid-table finishes.
The teams were:
- Mike Pollitt
- Paul Smith
- David Clarke
- David Hill
- Mark Smith
- Grant Brown
- John Schofield
- Ian Baraclough
- Neil Matthews
- David Johnson
- David Puttnam
Subs. Peter Costello (for Johnson)
David Flitcroft (for Paul Smith)
- James Morgan
- Jason Kearton
- Paul Holmes
- Andy Hinchcliffe
- John Ebbrell
- Matthew Jackson
- Gary Ablett
- Mark Ward
- Barry Horne
- Tony Cottee
- Paul Rideout
- Peter Beagrie
Subs. Pedrag Radoslavljevic (aka Preki) for Ward
- Steve Reeves
In goal for Lincoln was 21-year-old Mike Pollitt who had spent two spells on loan from Bury before signing permanently the previous December and had become first choice keeper following the sale of Ian Bowling in the summer.
The full backs were the only two survivors of City’s GM Vauxhall Conference winning side. On the right was Paul Smith who had joined City as a striker for a record-non-league fee but for the last two or three seasons had been usually deployed as a full back or wing back. Partnering Smith was former youth international David Clarke who had made well over 100 appearances for Notts County at higher levels before joining City for a fee of £5,000 prior to the Conference season. He returned to the side for this match in place of injured youngster Matt Carbon. Also missing through injury was Sean Dunphy so in central defence was City’s eventual record appearance holder Grant Brown now in his fifth season since being signed by Colin Murphy from Leicester City for £60,000 after a previous period on loan. Alongside him was 33-year old Mark Smith signed on a free transfer from Chesterfield. He had started his career with Sheffield Wednesday playing almost 300 times for them in the top two divisions.
In midfield was David Hill, signed by Keith Alexander in the summer from Scunthorpe in part exchange for Matt Carmichael. He had played around 200 games for the Iron in two spells sandwiching a couple of seasons with Second Division Ipswich Town. Another left-footed player alongside him was the tall Ian Baraclough, signed a year ago from Grimsby by Steve Thompson. On the right was the hard-working John Schofield, signed just under three years previously from Gainsborough Trinity for £10,000 by Colin Murphy. Club captain, he was to become the supporters’ choice as Player of the Season for 1993/94. On the left wing was the 1992/93 Player of the Season, David Puttnam another Colin Murphy signing from Leicester City. Joining at the same time as Brown, initially on loan, he had then cost a fee of £35,000.
With summer signing Steve Mardenborough missing with hamstring trouble the strikers were Neil Matthews and David Johnson. Matthews had in the past played for both Scunthorpe and Grimsby and had joined City from Halifax Town on loan the previous December. He had scored in each of his first three games before finishing the season with 11 goals after being signed permanently by Steve Thompson for a fee of £20,000 but had yet to get off the mark this season while fellow striker David Johnson only had two to his name. The 22-year-old had been signed by Keith Alexander just after the start of the season for £32,000 from Sheffield Wednesday where he had made a handful of appearances. With his skilful play he had soon become popular with the supporters earning the nickname ‘Magic’ Johnson and would go on to finish the season as leading scorer although with just 11 goals.
Substitutes were skilful striker Peter Costello who had joined a year previously from Peterborough and 19-year-old midfielder David Flitcroft on loan from Preston North End and making the first of three appearances for the Imps in this match. Flitcroft was better known then for being the brother of Manchester City regular Garry Flitcroft and nowadays for being the manager of Mansfield Town. Goalkeeping substitute was YTS player James Morgan
Australian Jason Kearton was making a rare appearance in goal for Everton in the absence of regular keeper Neville Southall. After playing for a string of clubs on loan he later spent several seasons with Crewe helping them reach Division One (now the Championship).
Full backs were Paul Holmes, signed from Birmingham in March for £100,000 but mostly to figure as a squad player before leaving to join West Bromwich, and Andy Hinchcliffe, a million-pound signing from Manchester City in 1990 who was to go on to win seven England caps. In the centre of defence were 21-year-old Matthew Jackson, a £600,000 signing from Luton in 1992 and Gary Ablett, an FA Cup and twice championship winner with Liverpool before crossing the city join the Toffees at the beginning of 1992 for £750,000.
Midfielder John Ebbrell had joined Everton as a schoolboy and fast-tracked to the first team squad making his debut at the age of 19 in 1989. Alongside him was Barry Horne, the current captain of Wales with 38 caps. Starting his career with Wrexham before moving to Portsmouth he had then cost Southampton a club record fee before joining Everton for £675,000 in the summer of 1992. Right winger was Mark Ward who had been an apprentice with Everton before dropping into non-league football with Northwich Victoria. He had then worked his way back up with Oldham, West Ham and Manchester City before re-joining Everton at the cost of a million pounds in 1991. On the left was Peter Beagrie who had played for Middlesbrough, Stoke and Sheffield United, joining Everton from the Blades in 1989 for £750,000. He was to move on later in the season to Manchester City for over a million pounds then playing for Bradford City in their Premier League days. He eventually finished his career with Grimsby at the age of 41 but not before becoming a cult hero with Scunthorpe United, playing in the first leg of the 2002/03 play-off semi-final against Lincoln.
Strikers were the experienced pairing of Paul Rideout and Tony Cottee. Rideout had started his career with Swindon before top-flight experience with Aston Villa and Southampton sandwiching a successful spell with Italian side Bari. He had joined Everton from Rangers in 1992 for a fee of £500,000 and although never a prolific scorer had no trouble when playing against City, with a total of five goals in four League Cup matches against the Imps for Southampton and his present club. A player who never had any trouble scoring was Tony Cottee with a record of almost a goal every two games for West Ham United before he joined Everton for a British record transfer fee of £2m in 1988. Maintaining his goals per game average for the Toffees he had won the last of his seven England caps four years previously.
Substitutes were attacking midfielder Graham Stuart who had cost £850,000 in the summer from Chelsea, and Yugoslavian winger Pedrag Radoslavljevic, usually known, no doubt to the relief of match announcer Chris Ashton, as Preki. He was in his second season with Everton and after leaving them played for several clubs in America eventually becoming a US citizen and playing 28 times for his new country. As with City, Everton’s goalkeeping substitute Steve Reeves was also a trainee.
A ‘souvenir programme’ was produced for the match but the only thing that differentiated it from the standard issue was a 50% price increase to £1.50. A feature in it compared the cost of the two teams’ squads in transfer fees which considering only the players involved in this match came to just over £8m for Everton compared to around £250,000 for City. Managing Director Geoff Davey was pleased to report that all 17 Executive Boxes had been sold for the match.
The average attendance for the season so far had been just over 3,300 but 9,153 turned out to see the Premier League giants, somewhat below the ground capacity at a time when the Co-op Stand had yet to be built. Although all seats had been sold spectators were still able to gain admission to the terraced areas by paying at the turnstiles and the game produced record receipts of £43,868 out of which City expected a profit of around £15,000.
Showing plenty of resolve and commitment City took the lead after just 16 minutes when David Johnson started and finished a move, playing a one-two with David Puttnam before a clinical finish. Neil Matthews then almost doubled the lead after Johnson and Puttnam combined again as midfielders Schofield, Hill and Baraclough harried Everton from the off. But on 25 minutes a corner from Andy Hinchcliffe found Paul Rideout unmarked in front of goal to level the scores.
With a creditable 1-1 scoreline at the break David Johnson missed a chance for City minutes into the second half and not long afterwards the visitors went in front when Rideout’s fierce shot was palmed out by Mike Pollitt into the path of Tony Cottee who side-footed the ball home. Midway through the half Everton went further ahead through Rideout again, this time from a Hinchcliffe free kick, but almost straight away City pulled a goal back. Left back David Clarke lofted the ball into the Everton penalty area for goalkeeper Jason Kearton to race out of his goal but miss the ball which rolled into the path of Neil Matthews for him to put it into the net from an acute angle. Grant Brown saw a header cleared off the line by Mark Ward but with 18 minutes to go the Imps completed their comeback from two goals down. It was Brown again, this time scoring from a header at the far post from a Puttnam free kick. With City fired up it seemed there could only be one winner, but in the 85th minute and against the run of play Paul Rideout completed his hat trick, the goal, like his first coming from a corner.
With at least 800 visiting supporters what was later described as a ‘high-spirited prank’ saw some of them steal the goal nets from the ground while they were waiting for their broken-down bus home to be repaired. The nets were later recovered from a pub in Liverpool, but more serious was the theft by visiting supporters of £350 from a refreshment kiosk.
I only retain vague impressions of the match myself, and rather strangely my recorded player ratings show no more than an average mark for all of the players except Paul Smith and David Puttnam who were apparently the only two to stand out (as they always did – Ed).
Still, in the tie for the second leg at Goodison Park a couple of weeks later City did their best and were on level terms with 15 minutes to go but late goals saw them go down 4-2 on the night and by 8-5 on aggregate. A steady upturn in league form saw them holding down a mid-table position by the end of the year but an end of season run of one win in ten games saw an 18th place finish and the dismissal of Keith Alexander.
Everton went on to reach the Fourth Round of the League Cup before exiting to Manchester United. Following this, and with a decline in league position to 12th Howard Kendall resigned and the second half of the season under new manager Mike Walker saw them only escape relegation on the last day of the season.