Wigan 1 Everton 1
Victor Anichebe played the part of super-sub once again to earn Everton a point after an unfortunate error by Tim Howard looked to have gifted Wigan a win.
Howard, normally so reliable, failed to deal with a routine catch after Jean Beausejour’s cross had deflected off Phil Neville and taken a bobble, the Blues looking on aghast as the ball squirmed into the net.
Anichebe was introduced soon afterwards and he ensured the spoils were shared, heading home Leighton Baines’ corner to ensure the Blues left with a point in their pockets.
Everton went into the game in good spirits after two successive wins, including a superb 1-0 victory over title-chasing Manchester City on Tuesday.
In cold, wet and downright horrible conditions, Steven Pienaar began his second debut for Everton as if he’d never been away, skipping past two Wigan players, before spraying a delightful pass out to Landon Donovan. The move broke down when Denis Stracqualursi was caught just offside.
On 13 minutes, Donovan fooled Beausejour and played a nice ball into the box for Stracqualursi, but the Argentine’s low shot was comfortably saved by Ali Al Habsi.
The first real chance of the game came on 20 minutes and it fell to Wigan, Franco Di Santo forcing a smart save from Howard after Sylvain Distin failed to deal with a clipped ball forward from the midfield.
On the half-hour mark, John Heitinga was harshly penalised for a foul on Di Santo just outside the area. Jordi Gomez took the free-kick but sent his effort wide.
In a first half of few chances, Everton carved out their best opening of the half on the 30-minute mark. Baines raced clear down the left and cut inside, before teeing it up for the onrushing Darron Gibson. The midfielder couldn’t replicate his goal on Tuesday night, however, blazing his shot over the bar from 16 yards.
Everton made a change at the break, Neville replacing Tim Cahill, with Marouane Fellaini pushed further forward. Gibson had the first shot of the second half for Everton, but his long-distance effort was easy for Al Habsi.
New signing Nikica Jelavic entered the fray on the hour for his Blues debut, replacing Stracqualursi in attack. And he almost had a hand in what would have been a fine opener for the Blues when he dummied Tony Hibbert’s cross for Fellaini, only for Gary Caldwell to nip in and clear the danger.
Out of nothing, Wigan went in front on 76 minutes in bizarre circumstances.
The ball was worked out to the left where Beausejour took a touch before firing in a cross. Neville stuck a toe out and deflected it goalwards, with the ball bouncing off the bumpy surface and bamboozling Howard to find its way into the back of the net. It was a horrendous goal to concede.
David Moyes responded by replacing Hibbert with Anichebe as Everton put two up top.
And the big man had an almost immediate impact when he met Baines’ inswinging corner to nod a fine header past Al Habsi to haul the Blues level.
There was an almighty goalmouth scramble in the Everton area in injury time when Howard failed to deal with a corner, before the game came to an end with honours even.