Everton 2 Tottenham 2
Richard Wright hoped he had left behind the clangers that blighted his life at Arsenal. Sadly he chose his Everton debut for his latest blunder.
The player Everton boss David Moyes believes will become England’s goalkeeping future, almost gifted Spurs a victory they hardly deserved.
Everton had led at the break through Mark Pembridge and conceded an equaliser to a unimpressive Spurs on the hour through Matthew Etherington’s angled cracker.
But then on came Les Ferdinand to hit a daisy cutter that Wright managed to let slip through his fingers, to the glee of the travelling Spurs fans who did not waste the chance to taunt the former Gunner.
Thankfully for Everton, Tomasz Radzinski plundered a deserved equaliser with 10 minutes left, and Wright’s blushes were saved with a rescued point.
Everton marked their 100 seasons in the top flight by giving 16-year-old Wayne Rooney his league debut.
Rooney, 17 next month, is second only to Joe Royle (16 years 288 days) as Everton’s youngest-ever first-teamer.
Rooney’s good and with great promise, but if Moyes had been given a few million more to spend, he could have brought in an experienced striker so that Rooney could be given a little more time to mature.
But Everton feel he is ready for Premiership pressure, and he certainly showed confidence, skill and strength and had a hand in the Merseysiders’ opening goal.
Everton made the most of their ton-up and introduced 50 old-time stars - from Howard Kendall, Graeme Sharp and Kevin Sheedy to Alex Young and Brian Labone - to mark the occasion in front of a packed house, who still cling to hope that the good times will roll again.
Moyes has brought in new faces on a tight budget and Chinese World Cup star Li Tie and new goalkeeper Wright made their debuts while Brazilian Juliano Rodrigo was on the bench.
For Spurs, Jamie Redknapp returned to Merseyside to make his debut for the Londoners, while Slovenian World Cup man Milenko Acimovic was on the bench.
The opening half hour was full of effort but little really telling in either box.
Spurs keeper Kasey Keller had a lot of trouble with Pembridge’s swirling corners from the right - clawing one away and thanking Steve Carr for heading another out from under the bar.
Thomas Gravesen created Everton’s best early chance when he cleverly evaded three tackles to thread the ball out left. Gary Naysmith was charging in and looked to have the better shooting chance, but Kevin Campbell spun and struck a shot with his left foot that Keller held with ease.
Spurs rarely got anywhere near Everton’s box, where they were confronted with excellent tackling and covering from Li Tie – China’s holding midfielder in the World Cup.
And Everton’s industry finally produced a goal on 36 minutes. Li Tie cleared from his own box, Gravesen sent Tomasz Radzinski away down the right.
His run and eventual pass found Rooney on the edge of the box and the teenager spun to find Pembridge in space with the Welshman driving home an excellently worked goal from 12 yards.
Spurs then lost Carr a minute from the break after looking to pull a hamstring as he tried to clear under persistent pressure from Rooney. Ben Thatcher took over.
Rooney, having done pretty well in the first half, started to blossom in the second.
A far post header and a blistering 25-yarder that Keller needed to be at his best to tip over, was the mark of a young man not being fazed by the occasion.
Everton were searching for the breathing space a second goal would bring, and Mauricio Taricco had to head off the line on the far post when another dangerous Pembridge corner was flicked on by Alan Stubbs.
But Spurs, who had created so little, punished Everton’s failure to turn their possession into more goals.
And on 63 minutes Spurs were level. They worked the ball down the right and in across the face of the box before Redknapp laid the ball into space for youngster Etherington to lash high inside the near post and over Wright’s head.
Everton went for more width on 66 minutes and withdrew young Rooney and sent on Swedish winger Niclas Alexandersson.
And the man who scored against England in the World Cup almost struck within a minute of coming on, drilling a low shot inches widen of the far post.
But tragedy was soon to strike Everton, and Wright.
Spurs brought on Les Ferdinand for Sheringham on 71 minutes and just three minutes later the Londoners were ahead, with Wright clearly at fault.
Ferdinand chested the ball down the Iversen, took the return and fired a daisy cutter from the edge of the box that Wright went down for and allowed to slip through his fingers.
Spurs fans, delighted with the misfortune of the former Gunner, stole the home fans’ chant of "England’s number one" to taunt the unfortunate keeper.
But Everton fought back. The little Brazilian Rodrigo came on for Li Tie on 75 minutes to inject more attacking ideas as Everton fought to get back into the game.
And the equaliser came on 80 minutes when Campbell’s flick sent Radzinski away on the right and he cut into the box to fire across Keller and into the far corner.
Everton had not deserved to lose, but Wright will be the first to admit his new side can do without such self-induced calamities.