Everton 3-2 Wimbledon (May 1994)

Goalscorers: Dean Holdsworth 4 PEN, Gary Ablett 20 OG, Graham Stuart 24 PEN, 81, Barry Horne 67

Teams:

Everton: Neville Southall, Gary Ablett, David Unsworth, Dave Watson, Ian Snodin, Barry Horne, John Ebbrell (Stuart Barlow 80), Anders Limpar, Graham Stuart, Tony Cottee, Paul Rideout

Wimbledon: Hans Segers, Warren Barton, Dean Blackwell, Gary Elkins, John Scales, Peter Fear (Gary Blissett 84), Vinnie Jones, Robbie Earle, Marcus Gayle, Andy Clarke, Dean Holdsworth

Referee: Robbie Hart, Attendance: 31,233

Everton began the final day of the 1993-1994 season inside the relegation zone, a point behind Ipswich Town, Southampton and Sheffield United. The Toffees needed a victory or face up to the realistic possibility that their 40-year top-flight stay would end at the conclusion of this match against an in-form Wimbledon. Joe Kinnear’s side went into this match in an impressive sixth position, having recently defeated both league runners-up Blackburn Rovers and champions Manchester United.

The pressure was on Mike Walker’s side and they made a nightmare start. Anders Limpar stupidly handled the ball from a corner in just the third minute. The anguish on the face of the Swedish international was clear to see and he was punished by Dean Holdsworth, whose weak penalty just evaded the grasp of Neville Southall to put the visitors infront.

After 20 minutes, it was 2-0. Two Everton defenders, Dave Watson and David Unsworth went for the same ball. Andy Clarke’s mishit shot looked like it was going wide before it took a deflection off the unfortunate Gary Ablett and ended up in the back of the net. Relegation was looking likely for the Toffees after this horrendous beginning.

Hope was restored four minutes later. Limpar resorted to desperate measures in an attempt to redeem himself for his earlier error. He threw himself to the ground under minimal contact from Peter Fear. Referee Robbie Hart gave the spot-kick and replays clearly showed Limpar had made a meal of any contact. Graham Stuart showed plenty of composure in such a high-pressure situation to stick his penalty beyond Hans Segers.

Everton were still living dangerously though. Holdsworth missed two glorious opportunities to extend the advantage again before half-time. At the interval, Everton were still looking like favourites for relegation, especially as none of their relegation rivals were losing at the break. Into the second half and Holdsworth had another chance with a header that was cleared off the goal-line by Stuart. Moments later, it was 2-2. Welshman Barry Horne tried his luck from distance and his shot flew into the back of the net. Segers had absolutely no chance.

The comeback was complete with nine minutes left. Stuart played a nice combination of passes with Tony Cottee and then, his first-time shot crept past Segers and into the back of the net. There’s no doubt the Wimbledon goalkeeper was surprised by the effort and probably should have done better. However, Everton’s comeback was complete.

At the full-time whistle, the fans ran onto the pitch in a combination of relief and delight. Everton had produced one of the most unlikely turnarounds to preserve their Premier League status at the expense of Sheffield United, whose own last-gasp defeat at Chelsea meant they were relegated instead.

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