MANCHESTER CITY 2 EVERTON 0 AS one former Cobh Ramblers player plans his departure from Manchester, Stuart Pearce looks to have discovered another gem after 19-year-old midfielder Stephen Ireland took the man of the match honours in a victory at the City of Manchester Stadium which kept Everton firmly rooted to the bottom of the Premiership table.
Danny Mills provided the highlight of what was a poor encounter with an outstanding strike in the 72nd minute, while Darius Vassell struck his side's second in stoppage time, but it was the performance of Ireland, making his first start for the club, that really impressed Pearce.
"Stephen's played with a maturity way beyond his years today," remarked Pearce, who was a team-mate of Keane when he made his debut for Nottingham Forest against Liverpool in 1990. "If there's someone champing at the bit to come and play, we're not prepared to hold them back," added Pearce.
Mills also had praise for Ireland after his debut, saying: "Stevie has shown some fantastic touches. He opened them up a few times and picked them off."
The Cork-born player admitted: "I was very nervous to start with - but once I got my first touch I was happy. All the players have encouraged me, and I'm very happy to get into the first team."
Mills' 72nd-minute goal, his first since netting for Leeds at Bolton in December 2002, was the defining moment of a previously turgid game. With Everton belatedly stretched by opponents they beat home and away last season, Mills received a short pass from the substitute Lee Croft, took a few paces and crashed home right-footed from close on 30 yards.