Silva re­lief as Ever­ton edge past plucky Imps

The Observer - Sport - - Football Emirates Fa Cup Third Round - Sachin Nakrani Good­i­son Park

For Lin­coln City there will be no new shock­wave to fol­low the one they caused in 2017 by be­com­ing the first non- league club for 103 years to reach the FA Cup quar­ter- fi nals but they cer­tainly gave it a good go. On a chilly Mersey­side af­ter­noon Danny Cow­ley’s men, now lead­ers of League Two, pushed Ever­ton all the way in a third- round tie dur­ing which it was tough at times to tell the favourites from the un­der­dogs.

Hav­ing gone 2- 0 up in the space of two first- half min­utes, Ever­ton ul­ti­mately did enough to seal their place in the fourth round but this was an­other largely un­con­vinc­ing dis­play from Marco Silva’s side.

Ever­ton toiled against op­po­nents who sit 58 places be­low them and all but closed that gap with a dis­play brim­ming with to­geth­er­ness and de­fi­ance. In­deed, it was telling that, hav­ing been roared on through­out from the 5,000 or so spec­ta­tors who trav­elled here from the east Mid­lands, Lin­coln’s play­ers also re­ceived a stand­ing ova­tion from sec­tions of the home sup­port on the fi nal whis­tle – a nice touch and one that was richly de­served.

“We can be re­ally proud of our ef­forts,” said Cow­ley. “When you’re 2- 0 down af­ter 15 min­utes at a Premier League club you fear the worst. But we’ve got a re­ally re­silient, gritty group and we showed all of those qual­i­ties.”

That they did, most no­tably Michael O’Con­nor and the cap­tain Lee Freck­ling­ton in cen­tral midfi eld, while Tom Pett, op­er­at­ing just be­hind the com­bat­ive lone striker, John Akinde, also caught the eye with his work- rate and de­ter­mi­na­tion. It was not pretty but it was ab­sorb­ing and on 82 min­utes a re­play looked on the cards af­ter Ja­son Shack­ell rose to meet Bruno An­drade’s left- sided cor­ner. The ball ap­peared to be head­ing in only for Richarli­son, hav­ing just come on as a sub­sti­tute, to clear the ball from un­der­neath his cross­bar.

It was via Shack­ell’s head that Lin­coln got back into th e game. On 28 min­utes the cen­tre- half met O’Con­nor’s free- kick and, though Jor­dan Pick­ford was able to keep his ef­fort out with an ex­cel­lent re­ac­tion save, he could do noth­ing to stop Lin­coln’s other cen­tre- half, Michael Bost­wick, from smash­ing in the re­bound.

It was a bolt from the blue – or rather from the red and white – and, as Silva con­ceded, his play­ers sub­se­quently lost their fo­cus hav­ing started this game in com­mand­ing man­ner. A side con­tain­ing five changes from that which lost to Le­ices­ter here on New Year’s Day moved the ball with com­po­sure and con­fi­dence and struck af­ter 12 min­utes when Ade­mola Look­man glanced in Leighton Baines’ cross. Bernard quickly dou­bled the hosts’ lead with a lovely lifted fin­ish fol­low­ing Do­minic Calvert- Lewin’s deft pass. It was the Brazil in­ter­na­tional’s fi rst goal for Ever­ton since join­ing from Shakhtar Donetsk in the sum­mer.

Look­man and Bernard were two of the play­ers brought into the home team’s lineup by Silva and they gen­er­ally im­pressed but many oth­ers in blue failed to make an im­pact. While this was a much- needed re­sult for Ever­ton fol­low­ing a run of one vic­tory in eight games, it did lit­tle to sug­gest all is go­ing to plan un­der their lat­est man­ager.

“It looked in some mo­ments that we didn’t want to have a quiet af­ter­noon,” said Silva. “But we achieve the main thing to play the next round. That was our obli­ga­tion.”

Bernard deftly lifts the ball over Josh Vick­ers to give Ever­ton a 2- 0 lead

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