Southampton’s hopes of avoiding relegation took a devastating late blow as Everton midfielder Tom Davies scored an equaliser in the sixth minute of added time.
Substitute Nathan Redmond’s first goal in almost a year appeared to have put the fight very much back in Saints’ hands as it would have left them needing a win at fellow strugglers Swansea on Tuesday to guarantee safety.
However, Davies’ deflected shot off defender Wesley Hoedt moved Mark Hughes’ side above 18th-placed Swansea on goal difference only.
It was cruel end for the visitors, who finished the match with 10 men after Maya Yoshida’s 85th-minute red card, but despite Everton stealing a point the 1-1 draw was greeted with boos.
The Everton players’ post-match lap of appreciation also received a lukewarm response with Goodison Park barely a third full.
Southampton had received a pre-match boost with the absence of Wayne Rooney (calf) and Theo Walcott (knee) and despite early half-chances from Davies and Cenk Tosun the visitors remained composed and controlled.
Twice Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford was forced into action, saving Charlie Austin’s half-volley and Oriol Romeu’s shot which deflected off Phil Jagielka.
There was actually more fight off the pitch than on it with a couple of home fans getting into an argument in the Main Stand which resulted in one man ending up shirt-less.
Such was the level of discontent at Sam Allardyce’s short reign there were reports of an organised protest taking place.
But fans did not heed the request of a pre-match printed flyer asking them to turn their backs to the pitch in the 18th minute or leave in the 78th (the relevance being 1878 was the year of the club’s formation).
However, with 10 minutes to go a brief chant of “F**k off Sam Allardyce” rose up from the Gwladys Street End.
By then Everton had been behind for 25 minutes after Redmond had directed a far-post header between Pickford’s legs from Cedric Soares’ cross, his first goal since May 13 last year.
Redmond’s introduction deserved to be game-changing, although whether Saints boss Hughes would have made the change so early had Mario Lemina not been injured is open to debate.
90+ Deep, deep into added time, @1TomDavies' low drive from 20 yards takes a deflection off Hoedt and ends up in the back of the net! #EFCmatchday— Everton (@Everton) May 5, 2018
🔵 1-1 🔴
📝 https://t.co/mKadEBUHQa pic.twitter.com/Ox1oVN26JF
Everton’s half-time change, which saw winger Yannick Bolasie replaced by centre-back Ramiro Funes Mori as Allardyce matched up Southampton’s 3-5-2, proved less impactful although the later addition of Oumar Niasse and the out-of-favour Davy Klaassen, who had just played six minutes of Premier League football since September, was slightly better.
But it was still not as good as Redmond’s performance with the former England Under-21 forward tricking his way into the area to force another save from Pickford.
Yoshida’s departure to a second yellow card put Southampton under unnecessary pressure and their resolve cracked deep into added time with Davies’ deflected shot.