Dramatic Gray Strike Earns Everton Point

Demarai Gray’s 88th-minute leveller ensured Everton got the very least they deserved in a dramatic 1-1 draw with Nottingham Forest at Goodison Park on Saturday.

The forward showed sensational composure and poise to control a long pass from Jordan Pickford and slot past Dean Henderson and earn Everton a point in the game’s dying moments.

Everton piled on the pressure after Brennan Johnson’s strike nine minutes from time put Forest ahead and – after Gray’s equaliser sent Goodison into raptures – could even have won the game.

Alex Iwobi’s swerving strike went over the bar in stoppage time, while Anthony Gordon was thwarted by Dean Henderson as the Blues poured forward with wave after wave of attack.

In the end, Frank Lampard’s team had to settle for a point but the Everton manager will be greatly encouraged by the resilience and determination shown by his team.

Everton began the game with speed and intent, with Tom Davies fractions away from getting on the end of a devilish Gray free-kick from the left flank on three minutes.

Davies threatened again soon after when his low drive from the edge of the area whistled past Forest goalkeeper Henderson’s far post.

Roared on by a buoyant Goodison crowd, Everton had their tails up and Henderson was forced into action twice in quick succession.

First, the on-loan Manchester United man beat away Gordon’s sweetly-struck effort from 20 yards before gathering Gray’s daisy-cutter from a similar distance.

Back came the away side and Pickford made his first meaningful save when he parried away Neco Williams’ shot.

A Gray cross was met by Davies on the 20-minute mark, but the Academy graduate could not get the requisite power on his volley.

The game was end-to-end at this point and Pickford made two fine stops to deny Taiwo Awoniyi and Orel Mangala.

Gordon and Gray were a constant menace to the away side’s backline and they almost combined to devastating effect shortly before half-time.

Gray weaved past two challenges before sliding a through pass into Gordon’s path, but Henderson raced off his line to collect before the Blues’ number 10 could apply the finish.

Everton made all the running at the start of the second half and Salomon Rondon was agonisingly close to opening the scoring when he swivelled and fired just past the post on 52 minutes.

The decibels were raised inside Goodison as Amadou Onana was introduced for his home debut shortly before the hour-mark, with the midfield talent given a rapturous reception.

Dwight McNeil was also brought into the fray as boss Frank Lampard shuffled his attacking options.

Another fabulous Gray delivery was beat away by Henderson, with the away side grateful to be able to hook the loose ball clear.

Onana then sent a shot over the bar after Gray tricked his way into space and laid the ball off to the Belgian 30 yards out.

As the game went into its final quarter, Everton were looking the more likely winners and a curling Gordon strike required another full-stretch save by Henderson.

Forest’s defenders were struggling to cope with him and he got another effort away after a marvellous jinking run, but this was more comfortable for Henderson.

The away side offered a reminder of their quality, though, when Williams flashed a drive wide and had another shot deflected just beyond the post.

Then came the late drama as Johnson slotted in after Pickford parried Ryan Yates’ low strike.

It was the Everton goalkeeper who assisted the Blues' equaliser, with his raking long pass collected in his stride by Gray, who finished superbly.

Goodison was rocking as only it can at this point and Iwobi and Gordon almost completed an incredible turnaround, but away side survived in a frantic finish.