Howard scored from inside his own penalty area just after the hour to break the deadlock following a goalless first half on a wet and windy night on Merseyside. It wasn’t enough though as Owen Coyle’s side fought back to claim a priceless victory with captain Gary Cahill scoring the winner 12 minutes from time on what could be his last game for the club after David N’Gog had levelled. The fighting spirit displayed by the Trotters will have given hope to supporters that the club can pull themselves away from danger after moving to within a point of fourth bottom QPR. Defeat will sting hard for David Moyes though as his side missed the chance to move into the top half throwing away their lead and a four-match unbeaten run that had seen them pull away from the danger over the festive period.
With Landon Donavan back at Goodison Park on a two-month loan deal from LA Galaxy to bolster Toffees’ attack they made the brighter start as the wind and rain made conditions treacherous in the first half. The American was involved almost immediately teeing up Denis Stracqualursi who fired wide of Adam Bogdan’s post before Leighton Baines crossed for Louis Saha to fire wide. The visitors also had a few sniffs at goal in a surprisingly bright opening forty five minutes with Phil Jagielka headed just over his own cross bar following Chris Eagles’ floated delivery. The Everton skipper then went close at the other end but was denied by a smart save from Bogdan after connected with Leon Osman’s cross before Donavan had a penalty shout turned down by referee Phil Dowd after tangling with Sam Ricketts in the penalty area. N’Gog then had the Trotters’ best chance of the half firing straight at Howard after being played in by Nigel Re0-Coker as both teams hurried down the tunnel at half time to escape the blustery weather.
The second period saw both sides create early opportunities with Jack Rodwell firing just wide for Everton before Mark Davies was denied by Howard at the other end after ghosting past Sylvain Distin and Johnny Heitinga. The American saved smartly from N’Gog’s curler from the edge of the area before stunning everyone inside Goodison Park by breaking the deadlock. His long clearance bounced 30-yards from goal and with a little boost from the wind sailed over the head of Bogdan and into the net. Going behind usually signals the beginning of the end for Coyle’s side but on this occasion they refused to lie down and accept their fate drawing level on 67 minutes through N’Gog. The Frenchman had failed to score in over three months but did brilliantly to take Reo-Coker’s pass under control before fixing the far corner with an accurate strike. He then had a penalty shout turned down after Baines appeared to block the former his s effort with an arm before Cahill swept home the winner to put Bolton in with a firm chance of beating the drop.