Everton 2-1 Lincoln City​

Lookman and Bernard see Blues past a hard-working Lincoln​.

Far from a classic cup tie as Everton lost their way for period of this game despite having raced into a two-goal lead inside the first quarter of an hour.

The road to Wembley saw the draw produce a first ever FA Cup meeting between the Toffees and the Imps with the home side looking to make it beyond the third round for the first time in three years.

After a poor December and a frankly awful showing against Leicester on New Years Day, Everton and their long-suffering supporters were hoping for a change of fortune in the oldest cup competition of them all.

Many Evertonians were of the opinion that Marco Silva needed to play his strongest possible eleven and not tinker with the side. With James McCarty vying for a return to first team action and Leighton Baines on standby if the manager decided give Lucas Digne a rest, changes were not out of the question.

Silva noted in his pre-match press conference, “Our ambition is important for us and our fans, they want to see our club doing a fantastic run in the FA Cup. You have to have respect for the opponents, but we will play with an eleven which has 100% condition to win the match.”

As the clock reached two o’clock, he submitted his team sheet indicating the starting line-up to read: Pickford, Baines (c), Mina, Zouma, Kenny, Gana Gueye, Davies, Lookman Sigurdsson, Bernard, and Calvert-Lewin.

For the Imps manager Danny Cowley, who masterminded their historic run to the quarter finals two seasons ago, was hopeful of having first choice goalie Josh Vickers and leading scorer John Akinde available for selection.

Currently top of League Two, Lincoln are hoping anther cup run can replicate the success it brought them two years ago when they won the National League and returned to Football League.

Ahead of the trip to Goodison Cowley commented, “that cup run helped us win the league, we’d played in big games and handled those pressure situations. Hopefully the experience can have the same affect this season, we’re not going there just to make up the numbers, we want to give a good performance.”

A sold-out visiting supporters section of over half the lower and upper Bullens Road were no doubt boosted by the team Cowley selected: Vickers, Eardley, Bostwick, Shackell, Toffolo, Anderson, O’Connor, Pett, Frecklington (c), Andrade and Akinde.

Our referee for the start of the road to Wembley was John Brooks.

A good start by the Blues almost saw them take a first minute lead as DCL laid the ball off for Bernard to find Lookman on the right who controlled, stepped inside his marker and fired a shot just over the bar.

Lincoln responded forcing Zouma into an error that saw Akinde in down the right channel but his cross came to nothing.

The visitors were working hard to close Everton down quickly and Shackell lifted a ball to the edge of the box for Akinde to head down for Pett, but his rising shot was well off target.

Everton opened the scoring in the 12th minute as the ball was worked out to the left for Baines to send a deep cross to the back post where Lookman rose to head past the keeper and across the line.

Everton roared forward and doubled their lead two minutes later as Sigurdsson found DCL and he neatly played in Bernard to dink the ball over Vickers for his first Everton score.

Everton now had the chance to out the game to bed and on 19 minutes, Lookman cut in from the left to fire just wide of the far post. DCL was next to put the visitors under pressure, Vickers doing well to send his shot behind for a corner.

The goals had taken some of the urgency out of the game and Everton were perhaps a tad guilty of overplaying in looking for the ideal opportunity to strike, and with Pett and Frecklington combative in midfield and Akinda proving a bit of a handful, the visitors were not fully subdued.

And on 27 minutes, they reduced the arrears as O’Connor sent a free kick to the back post where Shackell saw his header beaten out by Pickford, only for Bostwick to pounce and crash the ball into the Gwladys Street goal.

Roared on by their huge travelling support, Lincoln were boosted and got about a rattled Everton in search of an equaliser.

The Blues steadied and when Lookman found Davies in an advanced position, he was unfortunate to see his chip beat Vickers and the crossbar.

Half Time: 2-1

Marco Silva made two immediate changes for the start of the second half, Andre Gomes and Cenk Tosun replacing Tom Davies and DCL respectively.

Kenny saw an early yellow card for a foul on Andrade as Everton got off to a nervy and sloppy start to the half, too many passes going astray and nowhere near enough movement to provide the ball player with a decent outlet.

On 56 minutes, Everton finally put a move together that saw Baines cross from the left cleared only as far as Sigurdsson who fired in a terrific shot that Vickers made a fine save from.

Gomes bursting out of defence found Bernard in space and kept going to take the return ball only for his shot to be blocked and cleared. Everton kept the pressure on and Tosun worked the ball to Gomes for another long range but this time it was off target, high and wide.

The Blues were now enjoying a better spell with Bernard and Baines causing problems down the left flank and a Baines cross to the near post on 69 minutes saw Vickers make a smart save to deny Tosun.

Changes for Lincoln saw Rhead, McCartan and Chapman replace Akinde, O’Conner and Pett.

Baines went down in the area, but the referee said no to half-hearted penalty appeals ahead of Richarlison replacing Sigurdsson with eleven minutes to play.

Jonjoe Kenny made a crucial goal line clearance as a header from Rhead looped over Pickford as Lincoln strained for an equaliser.

Baines with a sweet move to bypass his marker fed Richarlison for a shot from the edge of the box, but he bent it wide of the far post.

Inside the final two minutes, Gomes again found Baines in space and his low centre saw the shot from Tosun easily gathered by Vickers.

With four minutes added on time signalled, it was kitchen sink time for Lincoln as they tried to throw everything forward and that left a gap that Tosun threaded a ball through, but just too strong for Lookman to get on the end of.

In the dying moments, Bernard found Tosun to release Richarlison, but the Brazilian over ran the ball.

This was far, far from a vintage Everton performance, but the object of progression into the fourth round draw was achieved.

And if you’re looking for a Man of the Match, can I suggest Bernard who never stopped running and working hard for the cause.

Full Time: 2-1

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