On the final matchday of the 2017/18 season, Everton and just five other clubs played their 1,000th Premier League game, being the only ever-presents since its inception in 1992. Over the summer, evertonfc.com will be looking back at some classic Toffees clashes from the past 26 years. Today, we recall the second of the Blues’ dramatic great escapes…
EVERTON 1-1 Coventry City
Sunday, 10 May 1998
For the second time in four years, Everton produced a nail-biting final-day salvaging act to maintain their top-flight status.
Unlike against Wimbledon in 1994, the Blues did not have to battle back from two goals down. Ultimately, they did not even have to win.
But any Evertonian will tell you, this was tense.
This was a football match that had just about everything. A quite spectacular goal from midfielder Gareth Farrelly, a missed penalty by Nick Barmby, a dramatic equaliser from Dion Dublin, and minutes of excruciating tension as a great club desperately clung on to its 44-year run at English football’s top table.
Welcoming Coventry on the back of two straight losses and occupying the third and final relegation spot, Everton knew defeat was not an option.
But their fate was also out of their own hands; they required Chelsea to do them a favour against Bolton.
Delivering on their own end of the bargain was all the hosts could do – and they got off to the perfect start.
Farrelly's inclusion in Howard Kendall's starting XI may have raised eyebrows ahead of kick-off but when his big moment came just seven minutes in, the youngster delivered.
He started the move, flicking the ball high towards Duncan Ferguson. Ferguson - at his unplayable best all afternoon long - was then strong enough to win his aerial challenge and direct the ball back towards the edge of the box.
In doing so, he picked out Farrelly, who had darted forward. Twenty-five yards from goal, the Irishman controlled with his chest and sent a thumping volley soaring towards the top corner. A magic moment.
Fear and tension continued to reign over the Grand Old Lady as time ticked on with no further goals. But then came the good news from west London - Gianluca Vialli had put Chelsea in front.
Understanding Everton’s hopes still hung by a thread, Dave Watson did his bit, throwing his body on the line with a timely tackle to deny Darren Huckerby.
A penalty then came. And went. Paul Williams was adjudged to have fouled substitute Danny Cadamarteri, but Barmby couldn't capitalise from the spot.
Despite that blow, the last minute of normal time arrived. Everton, it seemed, had done it.
Until that is their former defender David Burrows sent a swirling ball towards the centre of the penalty box.
There, eight yards from goal, was Dublin, primed to apply his trademark header - one Thomas Myhre clumsily let slip through his grasp. It was a mistake the Norwegian may have been left to regret for the rest of his days.
Indeed, a winner for Coventry or an equaliser for Bolton and Everton would have been down.
As it was, word came through that Chelsea’s Jody Morris had grabbed a second at the Bridge and the Blues held on.
The final whistle sparked frenzied scenes as a tidal wave of emotion tore free from the stands. Realisation hit home and the party could begin.
"The fans responded today when the team coach arrived, when the players entered the field, when they played,” said Kendall afterwards. “There was never a negative thought in the fans' minds but it is a day I won't want to go through again while I'm manager."
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