Everton v Bolton Wanderers
Jermaine Beckford’s first Premier League goal rescued a point for 10-man Everton as the Blues teetered on the brink of a first defeat in seven games.
The 26-year-old collected the ball on the left of the Bolton area and curled a wonderful finish high into the top corner from an improbable angle deep into injury time.
The hosts had been staring defeat in the face after Ivan Klasnic’s opener was swiftly followed by a deserved red card for the returning Marouane Fellaini.
The Belgian, probably the hosts most effective performer, kicked out following a foul from Paul Robinson and left referee Phil Dowd with little choice but to brandish red and he will now face a three-match ban.
Everton dominated the game for the most part but failed to create many clear opportunities and were eventually undone by their own sloppiness.
Phil Jagielka - normally a model of consistency - was culpable as his uncharacteristic error gifted the visitors a priceless opening.
The Everton man dithered and was robbed, presenting Bolton with a three-on-two break 30 yards from goal.
Matt Taylor slid the ball to the back stick and Klasnic bundled the ball past the helpless Tim Howard.
Defeat would have been rough on an Everton side who had looked to take the game to their guests.
But despite their efforts they rarely troubled Jussi Jaaskelainen in the Bolton goal and seemed to lack a creative spark.
Everton manager David Moyes made three changes from the team that drew at Blackpool with the big news being the return of Fellaini.
Elsewhere, Diniyar Bilyaletdinov was granted a rare chance to impress from the start at the expense of Seamus Coleman, while Louis Saha replaced Yakubu up front, the Frenchman starting his first game for more than two months.
The visitors were unchanged and it was Owen Coyle’s side who fashioned the first chance of the match as Johan Elmander went past Jagielka to earn a glimpse of goal.
But just as the Swede prepared to pull the trigger he was thwarted by a superb recovery from Sylvain Distin.
The Blues began to look the more dangerous and five minutes later created their first real opening.
Steven Pienaar’s precision enabled Saha to turn on the edge of the box and the striker ghosted past the ponderous Zat Knight before thumping a shot into the abdomen of Jaaskelainen.
The rebound squirmed invitingly into the path of Tim Cahill but the Bolton keeper sprung from the turf to smother his follow-up.
Better chances were beginning to arrive and, as the half drew to a close, Saha’s lack of purchase on a perfect Arteta corner was the only reason Jaaskelainen wasn’t picking the ball out of his net.
Pienaar was skulking on the edge of the area where he met the clearance - his mishit shot ricocheting through the crowd and limping past the far post.
The resulting flag kick again wreaked havoc in the Bolton box and Fellaini was off target with a booming back-post volley.
That was as good as it got in the opening 45 for the Blues who had enjoyed the upper hand but lacked a cutting edge as their neat interplay was too often on the fringes of the game, or simply fizzled out as they searched for a killer ball.
They’d tried to mix it up with their midfield fluid and players swapping positions, but they rarely troubled the hosts who, despite pre-match claims of a bold approach, rarely showed much desire to commit men forward.
Consequently corner kicks were proving their chief threat and Tim Howard had to be at his very best as Stuart Holden connected with Taylor’s corner – the Everton keeper acrobatically clawing away his compatriot’s effort.
At the other end the Blues twice went close as Gary Cahill almost sliced into his own net before Bilyaletdinov failed to connect when well-placed.
Coleman arrived to replace the Russian and immediately jinked down the right and cut inside only to see his shot blocked.
Everton were knocking on the door and corner after corner came and went in front of the Gwladys.
Then at the other end they almost fell to a sucker punch as Holden returned the favour for Taylor and the Trotters’ left-back glanced a header off the bar.
In that moment their luck must have run out as the next time Bolton lurched forward they stole the lead.
Jagielka dithered and was robbed on halfway. Taylor burst into the space and squared for Klasnic to break the deadlock.
Worse was to come as Fellaini kicked out at Robinson on the deck and was rightly given his marching orders.
That appeared to have knocked the stuffing out of Moyes’ side before Beckford’s late intervention lifted the mood inside Goodison and salvaged a point.