JOHN Heitinga revived Everton’s hopes of FA Cup glory with a late pile driver to edge them past Bolton Wanderers in a lacklustre fourth round tie.
David Moyes’ side were fortunate to avoid a replay after a subdued display at the Reebok stadium, but the Dutch defender put them into the fifth round in extra time, not long after he replaced Nikica Jelavic in the 81st minute.
A flare was released in the away end after the dramatic strike, which came when the Trotters failed to clear a Magaye Gueye corner, and the smattering of Bolton fans behind Tim Howard’s goal pelted the American keeper with snowballs.
But every cup run requires good luck, and Moyes will be hard pressed to deny that his side did not get their fair share by avoiding the prospect of hosting the Championship side at Goodison in a few weeks.
The Blues started with a phase of almost total dominance when they poured forward at will, and seemed to have recaptured the spark which was so lacking at Southampton on Monday.
Moyes had chosen to persevere with Nikica Jelavic and the Croatian formed a partnership with Victor Anichebe, who started in confident fashion owing to his recent much improved form.
The Nigerian international went close with a header, and Kevin Mirallas tried his luck as the travelling Evertonians perhaps readied themselves for a comfortable afternoon.
Unfortunately things are rarely that simple for the Toffees. Mirallas lasted just 17 minutes before signalling to the bench that he was injured, and had to be replaced on his full comeback by Magaye Gueye. It was a bitter blow, but the gloom was swiftly eased when Everton took a fortuitous lead moments later.
Anichebe turned Zat Knight smartly and his blocked attempt was deflected past Bolton keeper Andy Lonergan by Steven Pienaar.
Instead of galvanising the Premier League side the goal only fired-up their hosts, and Dougie Freedman’s side began to probe for a leveller with dangerous intent. By the half hour mark, with Bolton in the ascendency, their spirited response was rewarded.
The impressive Darren Pratley was left by Marouane Fellaini to escape down the right and his low cross was turned in expertly at the near post by Marvin Sordell. The striker’s intelligent movement had warranted the breakthrough.
Then Tim Howard had to be at full stretch deny the resurgent hosts as Pratley tried his luck with a fierce effort from range. So it continued until the break, with lacklustre Everton fortunate to still be on level terms as they headed in for a dressing down.