Jermaine Beckford once worked for the RAC before becoming a full-time footballer and he could not have cut a rescue finer. After a night of hard luck, Everton, metaphorically at least, were on the hard shoulder and about to swallow their first defeat in two months when Leighton Baines, one of the evening's outstanding figures, dispossessed Lee Chung-young and found Beckford. He sent a brilliantly judged, curling shot into the top corner of Jussi Jaaskelainen's net beneath a Gwladys End that was preparing to greet the final whistle with a crescendo of abuse. There was barely time to restart.
"I do think we probably threw Jermaine in too early," said David Moyes, reflecting on Beckford's uncertain start to his Premier League career in the wake of his move from Leeds, for whom he had scored 31 times last season. "But anyone who has worked with him at Leeds will tell you he is capable of an array of goals and it was really needed because there could have been only 10 or 15 seconds left."
Almost everything in this match was crammed into a final quarter of an hour that embraced two goals and a sending off. The red card was shown to Marouane Fellaini, who with four minutes left became tangled up with Paul Robinson then drove his studs into what could politely be called Robinson's nether regions. "The red card was the correct decision," said Moyes. "It was retaliation; it was stupid."
When Fellaini walked off, the mood at Goodison was one of naked despair. Everton had dominated swathes of this game and yet had been caught utterly cold by a counter-attack from a Bolton side that had endured a siege without ever looking likely to crack.
Like Everton's goal, it began with a player being caught in possession – this time Phil Jagielka by Stuart Holden. The young American drove down the left flank, fed Matthew Taylor, who sent a long, diagonal cross into the Everton area that Sylvain Distin could not reach but which Ivan Klasnic did. In nine previous visits to Merseyside Bolton had neither won nor scored and here one of those sequences was broken and another looked as if it would be.
This was a day when all the figures at Bolton made for grim reading. They announced a loss of £35m, an overall debt of £93m and lost two points. Nevertheless, they are sixth on goal difference and the £4.2m that Bolton spent recruiting Owen Coyle and dismissing Gary Megson as manager appears to be one of the healthier items on their balance sheet.
Coyle agreed that this was a match that last season Bolton might have lost. Indeed, he said he had lost at Goodison twice last season, once with Burnley and once with his current team and on both occasions had a man sent off. Here, Bolton required some fine, rugged defending from Gary Cahill, who early in the second half turned a low cross from Baines that seemed destined for an Everton boot over his own crossbar. But Cahill and his defence seldom appeared near breaking points. "If you had said that we would play Tottenham and Everton and come away with four points we would have taken it," said Coyle, trying to control his disappointment. "Although we should have had six."
Everton (4-5-1): Howard, Neville (Yakubu, 81), Distin, Jagielka, Baines, Bilyaletdinov (Coleman, 66), Fellaini, Cahill, Arteta, Pienaar, Saha (Beckford, 81). Substitutes not used Mucha, Hibbert, Rodwell, Baxter.
Bolton (4-5-1): Jaaskelainen, Steinsson (Ricketts, 59), Knight, Cahill, Robinson, Lee, Muamba, Holden, Taylor, Kevin Davies, Elmander (Klasnic, 61). Substitutes not used Bogdan, Petrov, Mark Davies, Moreno, Blake.
Referee P Dowd (Staffordshire)