Wednesday 07 May 2014
Premierleague.com rifles through the annals of the Barclays Premier League to find significant events.
Everton preserved their Barclays Premier League status in a dramatic manner in coming back from two goals down in the final match of the season to earn the win they needed to stay up.
The Toffees started the day in the relegation zone and needed a victory to have any chance of avoiding the drop. Their 40-year stay in the top flight looked to be over when the sixth-placed Wimbledon went 2-0 up after 20 minutes, but a remarkable comeback and other results going in their favour saved Everton from the drop.
They moved above Ipswich Town, Southampton and Sheffield United. The Blades were the side condemned to relegation following their 3-2 defeat at Chelsea, which was sealed in the dying moments.
Rebuilding work was going on at Goodison Park, which was filled to its reduced 31,000 capacity with thousands more fans locked out, some of whom climbed trees to peer through the building site at the Stanley Park end of the stadium.
The supporters inside played a key role according to Everton manager Mike Walker, who said: “I came here expecting fanaticism but they were incredible.”
The home fans were stunned into silence in the third minute when Anders Limpar handled a corner from Gary Elkins and Dean Holdsworth’s penalty squirmed through the grasp of Neville Southall for the striker’s 24th goal of the season.
The visitors doubled their lead when Andy Clarke’s shot deflected into the net off the legs of Everton defender Gary Ablett for an own goal.
The Toffees responded swiftly and within four minutes they had one back when Peter Fear fouled Limpar and Graham Stuart slotted home the resulting penalty.
With ears glued to radios for news of scores from elsewhere and time starting to run out, Barry Horne seized the initiative as he ran at the Wimbledon defence before unleashing an unstoppable shot which flew into the sorner to equalise in the 67th minute.
A draw would not be enough, with Everton having the second-worst goal difference of the quartet battling to avoid the drop. And nine minutes from time one point turned into three when Stuart played a one-two with Tony Cottee and gave the Toffees the lead from 12 yards. That was enough to wrap up only Everton’s second win in 11 matches and secure their survival.
“I said all along to those who bothered to listen that we wouldn’t go down," Walker said. "We kept our heads and we kept going. Now we have a chance to build a team that will bring in 30,000 every week.”
As for Wimbledon, seven wins and two draws in their previous nine fixtures had taken them to sixth, which was where they stayed after this result to record their best Barclays Premier League final placing.