Bolton v Everton
Bolton and Everton did battle in a deluge on Sunday afternoon but David Moyes' hopes of becoming only the fourth manager to pass 500 Premier League points and more importantly move the Blues into the top half of the table were washed away by the Wanderers.
A goal in each half sunk Everton, with Gary Cahill netting first for the hosts before Daniel Sturridge continued his golden start to life at Bolton with a well taken second.
At the other end the Blues were without the cutting edge that was so sharp in their 5-3 win against Blackpool last week - drawing a blank at this ground for the first time since 2003.
David Moyes made two changes for this game, both enforced by injury, teenager Jack Rodwell and Louis Saha were ruled out meaning Tim Cahill and Victor Anichebe came in.
Bolton picked an unchanged side as they looked to continue their hot streak on home soil having lost just twice at the Reebok this term.
The opening exchanges were disjointed with both sides struggling to keep possession, so it was perhaps no surprise that the opener came courtesy of a set piece.
Everton's first real opportunity of the game arose on 17 minutes via a familiar combination.
Leighton Baines found space on the left hand side and delivered an inviting cross which Tim Cahill failed to steer past Jussi Jaaskelainen.
Mid-way through the first half Zat Knight slid to Bolton's rescue as the Blues burst through the middle.
Mikel Arteta played in Victor Anichebe but Knight used every inch of his giant frame to toe the ball away for a corner.
It was to be Knight's final contribution of the afternoon, he was injured in the challenge with Anichebe, and David Wheater made his Premier League debut for Wanderers following a January move from Middlesbrough.
The lengthy stoppage halted Everton's gathering momentum and the visitors failed to penetrate the Bolton back line, the closest they came was a long range effort by Mikel Arteta on 40 minutes that was far too close to Jaaskelainen.
A minute before the break Howard and Everton were almost foiled by another big deflection. Kevin Davies found namesake Mark and his right footed shot was blocked and looped just wide.
In first half stoppage time Seamus Coleman's ball across the face of goal evaded everyone and ran to safety meaning the Blues were behind at the break.
The second half began with another spell of scrappy football, but as the hour approached Everton stirred.
David Moyes' side peppered the Bolton penalty area with crosses but Everton couldn't get the ball to bounce in their favour, and when they did Wanderers bravely threw bodies in-front of the ball.
On the hour Everton made a double substitution as they looked for a route back into the game. Jermaine Beckford, who scored a dramatic late equaliser against the same opposition in November, and Leon Osman replaced Diniyar Bilyaletdinov and Seamus Coleman.
But on 67 minutes Bolton doubled their advantage and all but secured the points. Everton failed to clear a left wing cross and Chung-Yong Lee nodded the ball into the path of Daniel Sturridge who made it three goals in three games hammering the ball past Howard into the far corner of the net.
It was the fifth league game in a row Everton had conceded two goals or more and this time there was no Louis Saha to save the day.
Instead David Moyes threw on Jose Baxter for Victor Anichebe but there was to be no heroic contribution from the young striker.
With 10 minutes to play Bolton had the ball in the net for a third time as Stuart Holden lashed in Sturridge's backheel but fortunately for Everton the ball had just run out of play.
Jaaskelainen was finally stretched on 82 minutes when Baxter's goal bound effort was well tipped wide by the veteran 'keeper.
As time ticked away it was Bolton that came closest to scoring, the effervescent Sturridge twice lashed just over the bar either side of a curling effort from the edge of the box by Johan Elmander.
Everton tried to tee up a tense climax but there was no way through - the wait for a place in the top 10 continues.