Wigan 1-1 Everton: Neville own-goal, Anichebe great-finish
A late header from Victor Anichebe spared Tim Howard's blushes as Everton snatched a 1-1 draw at Wigan Athletic in a sleety Premier League clash at the DW Stadium.
Seconds after coming off the bench, Anichibe met Leighton Baines’s excellent cross with a powerful header to cancel out a bizarre own-goal by Phil Neville as the conditions proved key at the DW Stadium.
Neville, on as a half-time substitute for the injured Tim Cahill, had deflected a Jean Beausejour cross towards Tim Howard, who had it well covered until the ball took a highly-unusual bounce that sent it spinning over his shoulder and into the back of the net.
The result continues a curious Everton statistic of never losing a Premier League match in which Anichebe has scored, while Wigan stay rooted to the bottom of the table after missing out on all three points.
Wigan impressed in the first half, passing well and creating the odd chance in spite of poor conditions in the sleet and rain.
Beausejour was particularly lively, finding Franco Di Santo a couple of times with good crosses; the first the Argentine was unable to make contact with, while for the second he saw his knock-down missed by Victor Moses arriving late.
Di Santo had a couple more opportunities before going off injured in the second half, firing one at Howard after getting the better of Sylvain Distain, then harassed into shooting over by Tony Hibbert after a great low ball from Ronnie Stam.
Everton were dangerous on the counter though, with Denis Stracqualursi firing straight at Ali Al-Habsi after good play from Landon Donovan, while Steven Pienaar and John Heitinga had half-chances from corners.
Darron Gibson, who scored the winner against Manchester City with one of his trademark powerful shots, was unable to connect properly with similar efforts on three occasions but Everton only really started to look like the better side when Nikica Jelavic made his entrance on the hour mark.
The deadline-day signing from Rangers immediately linked up well with his team-mates, almost releasing Marouane Fellaini with a step-over before finding the Belgian with a cross, only for Gary Caldwell to block the header.
Wigan, meanwhile, were still a threat, James McArthur seeing a shot deflected wide by what looked suspiciously like Heitinga's arm, before missing a free header at the far post after Howard flapped at David Jones’s corner.
The match was starting to open up as McArthur – in the thick of it in the latter stages – cleared after a penalty-area pinball followed a free-kick he had given away.
Then came one of the stranger goals the Premier League will witness this season.
With a quarter of an hour left on the clock, Beausejour swung in a low cross that struck the outstretched boot of Neville. The diversion did not deceive Howard, who knelt down to gather the ball into his chest; however, the bounce off the turf did fool the American, who contorted his body in vain as the ball spun unnaturally over his despairing lunge and inside the right-hand post.
Everton responded well though, throwing everything at Wigan and bringing on forgotten man Anichebe.
The Nigeria international, whose promising career has been disrupted by injuries, had an immediate impact as – after a Baines corner was cleared back to the England left-back – he angled an unstoppable header inside the far post, helped by a wonderful, spinning delivery from the ex-Wigan man.
To their credit Wigan tried to win it late on, a flapping Howard this time relieved that Neville was on hand to block from Albert Crusat, but the spoils were shared and Wigan stay bottom. Everton, meanwhile, sit 11th on 30 points.
WIGAN: Al Habsi, Stam, Boyce, Caldwell, Figueroa, Beausejour, McCarthy, McArthur, Gomez, Moses, Di Santo - Subs: Pollitt, Alcaraz, Crusat, Watson, Jones, Rodallega, Diame /// EVERTON: Howard, Hibbert, Heitinga, Distin, Baines, Pienaar, Fellaini, Gibson, Donovan, Cahill, Stracqualursi - Subs: Mucha, Jelavic, Drenthe, Neville, Gueye, Anichebe, Duffy