Everton 0 Blackburn 1
By Rui Pires
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Stead popped up to score a header ten minutes from time to settle the match, which up until then was dominated by excellent goalkeeping from Nigel Martyn and Brad Friedel.
Martyn threw himself to his right after six minutes to palm away a header from former Everton defender Craig Short from a Tugay corner.
A minute later and Freidel was called into action, producing an outstanding reflex save to turn over a powerful Steve Watson header from a Wayne Rooney cross.
Tomasz Radzinski almost set up a goal, sending over a cross which Rooney spooned over the bar.
Everton began to dictate the game and Rooney, moving from central into wide areas to take possession, caused Lucas Neill plenty of problems, while Radzinski's pace did likewise to Short.
Blackburn were finding it more difficult to create space for themselves, although Rovers striker Stead saw his hooked shot from 15 yards out drop wide of the far post.
Everton then suffered a bad blow with the loss of Thomas Gravesen after 22 minutes after he slipped while sending over a cross and clearly suffered a muscle strain. Alex Nyarko came on to take the Dane's place in midfield.
Tobias Linderoth and then Watson both needed lengthy treatment after a foul, with young Stead given a warning from referee Phil Dowd for aiming a frustrated kick at Watson.
Nyarko joined in on the same flank on 38 minutes and cut inside Garry Flitcroft to blast a rising shot from outside the box that Friedel held onto.
Stead sent in a fine header from Michael Gray's cross but Martyn was alert enough to produce another excellent save.
Lorenzo Amoruso powered in a header from the resulting corner which beat Martyn, but Linderoth hacked the ball off the line.
At the other end, Friedel got down well to his right to fingertip a Radzinski shot inches wide of the far post.
Kilbane saw an overhead effort sail over the bar just after the break, and Nyarko tried his luck from range but his effort failed to find the target.
Alessandro Pistone put Radzinski away on the right and, when the cross arrived in the box, Rooney's drive seemed to come off Amoruso's arm but the referee ignored the penalty appeals.
Seconds later Nyarko flashed a 20-yard shot wide of the left hand post, Everton at last producing real pressure to pin back Rovers.
Pistone got down the line himself on 64 minutes, saw a cross blocked and then lashed the rebound inches over the angle.
Martin Andresen then fed Andy Cole in the box, but his fiercely struck shot was superbly beaten away by Martyn.
But Everton were to pay for failing to score when they were on top and found themselves behind with nine minutes left.
Cole, quiet for much of the afternoon, turned away from Pistone's slack challenge to lift a cross into the box that Stead headed past Martyn from eight yards.
Blackburn held on to secure the three precious points which should see them retain their Premiership status for another season.