A deft touch from the prolific Michael Ricketts deep in the fourth minute of injury time gave Bolton a deserved share of the points after Paul Gascoigne's first goal for Everton had threatened all three. Ricketts' eighth Premiership goal of the season was not his most spectacular – a deflection to steer Gudni Bergsson's header past Steve Simonsen in the Everton goal – but it was as valuable to Bolton as any.
They were heading for a fourth home defeat in a row after dominating long periods and such a result could have signalled the moment when their slide down the table accelerated out of control.
Bolton took the lead in the 10th minute through a hotly disputed free-kick awarded against David Weir for a foul on Kevin Nolan. Perhaps the Everton wall was still debating the injustice of it as Per Frandsen drove through a convenient gap to give Simonsen, preferred in goal to Paul Gerrard in a Premiership match for the first time, no chance of keeping it out.
Bolton had a splendid half-hour after that during which they could have easily added another goal or two. A couple of minutes before half-time, however, Everton were level through a free-kick. Frandsen brought down Tomasz Radzinski 30 metres out, but the shot from Alan Stubbs – a former Wanderer – was a screamer.
Bolton had been disrupted 10 minutes before kick-off when their first-choice goalkeeper, Jussi Jaaskelainen, had a spasm in his back and had to pull out, but it was doubtful whether he would have got any closer to Stubbs' blast than the recently signed Kevin Poole.
Everton carried the momentum from that goal beyond the break and looked likely to take the lead a couple of times before Gascoigne did the trick. The old stager had shown plenty of touches of class in his first full match after his latest injury setback, but he had not scored in the Premiership since finding the net for Middlesbrough 26 months ago. You would not have thought that from the way he met Gary Naysmith's cross from the left and drilled it past Poole.
Bolton changed their formation as their search for an equaliser quickened. Rod Wallace, pushed up front, had one shot deflected on to the bar and put an easier chance wide, while Nolan, who underlined his potential as an outstanding midfielder, mounted a one-man assault. He had a point-blank effort saved by Simonsen, put one in the net only to be denied by a ruling that Dean Holdsworth had handled, and sent a diving header wide.
Bolton seemed to run out of any options when their substitute, Djibril Diawara, was sent off for a second booking, up-ending Radzinski as he chased a visionary pass from Gascoigne. But their continued determination did them credit.
"I think it's a turning point for us,'' said their manager, Sam Allardyce. "We would have come off the pitch not deserving to lose, for that would have been four home defeats on the trot. To come back with 10 men really pleased me.''
The Everton manager, Walter Smith, noticeably reticent in assessing Gascoigne's fitness and impact, was frustrated by the late loss of two points that would have taken Everton above Bolton in mid-table. "From our point of view, it was a couple of points thrown away,'' he said.Reuse content