COW­LEY PROUD AS IMPS RUN TOF­FEES CLOSE

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Carl Markham

LEAGUE Two lead­ers Lin­coln City gave Premier League Ever­ton a huge fright, be­fore ul­ti­mately fall­ing just short of tak­ing the Tof­fees back to Sin­cil Bank.

A mad two-minute pe­riod dur­ing the first half, in which Ade­mola Look­man – with his first goal in 394 days – and Bernard scored, proved the Imps’ down­fall and de­spite claw­ing a goal back through man-of-the­match Michael Bost­wick, it wasn’t to be for the Imps.

Lin­coln boss Danny Cow­ley was pleased with the way his side re­sponded to go­ing 2-0 down, with the Tof­fees look­ing likely to roll City over, be­fore the tide turned.

He said: “I think we can be proud of our ef­forts. When you are 2-0 down af­ter 15 min­utes at a Premier League club, you fear the worst – but we have a re­silient, gritty, de­ter­mined group and we showed all those qual­i­ties to get back in the game.

“We scored and it gave us the con­fi­dence to go toe-to-toe with Ever­ton.

“There was a 30-minute pe­riod in the game when they didn’t have a shot on tar­get and that’s an achieve­ment against a Premier League side.

“They are Premier League play­ers, have a world­class man­ager and they have tested us to the hilt.”

Look­man sig­nalled his state­ment of in­tent within 57 sec­onds, cut­ting in from the right and fir­ing a left-footed shot just over, but his long wait for a first goal since De­cem­ber 2017 ended when he con­verted a far-post header from Leighton Baines’ cross.

When Gylfi Sig­urds­son and Do­minic Calvert-Lewin com­bined for Bernard to clev­erly dink over Josh Vick­ers, back in the Lin­coln goal for the first time since Box­ing Day af­ter in­jury, Ever­ton al­ready had one foot in the fourth round.

But it was the last real piece of qual­ity to come from the hosts with Look­man’s ef­fort their fi­nal at­tack­ing threat. Lin­coln, hav­ing over­come their early nerves, be­gan to play more foot­ball and with their big front man John Akinde in­duc­ing un­nec­es­sary panic in cen­tre-backs Kurt Zouma and Yerry Mina, there were plenty of free-kicks around the penalty area to take ad­van­tage of.

They duly did in the 28th minute when Jor­dan Pick­ford saved Ja­son Shack­ell’s header, only for Bost­wick to fol­low up from close range.

Mo­men­tum switched in an in­stant as Ever­ton lost all com­po­sure while their vis­i­tors’ con­fi­dence vis­i­bly grew and half­time came at the wrong time for them.

Sig­urds­son’s 30-yard drive was bat­ted away by Vick­ers, but still Ever­ton did not look like they were in full con­trol and a lack of cut­ting edge al­ways of­fered Lin­coln hope.

Vis­it­ing hopes were raised when Tof­fees top scorer Richarli­son had to head out from un­der his own cross­bar to deny Shack­ell at a cor­ner. But their hopes of snatch­ing a re­play dis­ap­peared when sub Shay Mc­Car­tan had a penalty claim re­jected af­ter go­ing down un­der the com­bined chal­lenge of Zouma and Mina.

Ever­ton man­ager Marco Silva was sat­is­fied with the win, if not the per­for­mance.

“First we achieved the main thing, to play in the next round,” he said. “We started with in­ten­sity and some good mo­ments, but af­ter we lost the fo­cus and gave them hope.”

PIC­TURES: PA Im­ages

EARLY HOPE: Lin­coln’s Michael Bost­wick, left, cel­e­brates scor­ing their first goal, in­set, with team-mate Ja­son Shack­ell

FIST PUMP: Ever­ton’s Bernard has hit the win­ner

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