Everton crash out of the FA Cup in the 5th Round after a lacklustre defeat to Championship side Reading.
Everton never got going in the game, and at times felt as stuck as Jermain Beckford did in the pre-match traffic jam. The striker was penned in for the starting eleven, but a hastily re-arranged teamsheet meant he was on the bench with Everton going for a 4-5-1.
Despite some early periods of encouraging possession as the visitors to Goodison Park sat back to keep things tight, Reading came into the game – mostly due to Everton having very little bite up front – and their revival was rewarded with a goal.
Ian Harte sent in an incurler corner with his fabled left foot that once operated in a Champion´s League quality Leeds side. It causes chaos and indecision in the defence, Osman´s clearance wasn´t enough and captain Matthew Mills pounced, striking the ball clean and low beyond Tim Howard.
It could have been two shortly afterwards. A bad mistake from Sylvain Distin allowed the Malian Kebe to run on, and it required a low save from Tim Howard to keep Everton in with a chance.
The home fans began to get restless, with only two chances of note in the first half – both coming from a header, with Coleman and Osman missing the target.
Moyes made a rare double substitution at half-time with Anichebe and Beckford introduced to aid the attack, but Reading continued to look comfortable, with most Everton attacks relying on the crossing ability of Baines from the left, due to the continued lack of inspiration in the middle from the likes of Arteta.
The best chance of the game for Everton arrived from the left. Louis Saha drifted into the left channel, whipped in a cross for Beckford, who nodded down for the onrushing Osman – but his right footed volley was saved brilliantly by McCarthy in the Reading goal.
The introduction of young attacker Jose Baxter did nothing of note to change matters, neither did the baffling five additional minutes of added time at the end. It´s an embarrassing, frustrating exit from the FA Cup which effectively ends Everton´s season by March.