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Venue: Goodison Park, Liverpool
FA Cup
Saturday 5 January 2018; 3:00pm
Everton
2 1
Lincoln
Lookman 12'
Bernard 14'
Half Time: 2 - 1 
Bostwick 28'
Attendance: 37,900
Round 3
Referee: John Brooks

Match Report
Match Preview
Match Summary
Discussion
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2018-19 Reports Index
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 Match reports
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EVERTON
  Pickford
  Kenny
  Zouma
  Mina
  Baines
  Gueye
  Davies (Gomes 46')
  Sigurdsson (Richarlison 80')
  Lookman
  Bernard
  Calvert-Lewin (Tosun 46')
  Subs not used
  Stekelenburg
  Jagielka
  Coleman
  McCarthy
  Unavailable
  Bolasie (loan)
  Besic (loan)
  Connolly (loan)
  Dowell (loan)
  Garbutt (loan)
  Holgate (loan)
  Martina (loan)
  Mirallas (loan)
  Onyekuru (loan)
  Pennington (loan)
  Ramirez (loan)
  Robinson (loan)
  Tarashaj (loan)
  Vlasic (loan)
  A Williams (loan)
  J Williams (loan)
LEICESTER
  Vickers
  Eardley
  Bostwick
  Shackell
  Toffolo
  Anderson
  O'Connor (McCartan 72')
  Pett (Chapman 78')
  Frecklington
  Andrade
  Akine (Rhead 71')
  Subs not used
  Gordon
  Wharton
  Mensah
  Slocombe

Match Stats

Possession
75%
25%
Shots
18
8
Shots on target
5
2
Corners
5
6

FA Cup Scores
Friday
Tranmere 0-7 Tottenham
Saturday
Accrington 1-0 Ipswich
Aston Villa 0-3 Swansea
Blackpool 0-3 Arsenal
Bolton 5-2 Walsall
Bournemouth 1-3 Brighton
Brentford 1-0 Oxford
Bristol City 1-0 Huddersfield
Burnley 1-0 Barnsley
Chelsea 2-0 Nott'm Forest
C Palace 1-0 Grimsby
Derby 2-2 Southampton
Everton 2-1 Lincoln
Fleetwood 2-3 Wimbledon
Gillingham 1-0 Cardiff
Man United 2-0 Reading
Middlesbrough 5-0 Peterborough
Newcastle 1-1 Blackburn
Norwich 0-1 Portsmouth
Sheff Weds 0-0 Luton Town
Shrewsbury 1-1 Stoke City
West Brom 1-0 Wigan
West Ham 2-0 Birmingham
Sunday
Fulham 1-2 Oldham
Man City 7-0 Rotherham
Millwall 2-1 Hull City
Newport 2-1 Leicester
Preston NE 1-3 Doncaster
QPR 2-1 Leeds United
Sheff United 0-1 Barnet
Woking 0-2 Watford
Monday
Wolves 2-1 Liverpool


Match Report

For a team struggling through the kind of run Everton find themselves midway through the season, a home tie against a side in the fourth tier of the English football is precisely what you would want. Granted, any game against a lower league side is a potential banana skin and the Blues were unlikely to replicate Tottenham’s record-setting feat of last night against Tranmere but a healthy home win to calm the nerves was certainly on the cards.

That it didn’t turn out that way underlines the shortage of confidence and composure that has suddenly afflicted Marco Silva’s team. The Toffees won but the manner in which a fast start gave way to a disconcertingly disjointed display during which Lincoln more than held their own for long periods won't have dispelled the doubts that have crept in in recent weeks.

A lot of hope has been invested in this competition for the remainder of this season but it's hard to see a long road to Wembley on this evidence unless it's paved with home ties against lower-division teams.

Danny Cowley and his brother and assistant, Nicky have a pedigree in the FA Cup after their impressive run to the quarter finals two years ago which included knocking out Burnley but there shouldn’t have been as little difference between the Premier League and League Two outfits as the scoreline suggests.

Indeed, the threat of an unwanted replay wouldn’t have been hanging over Goodison until the final whistle had Everton not relinquished the vice-like grip they had established on the game over the first quarter of the contest.

Having controlled the ball, sped into a 2-0 lead before 15 minutes had elapsed and threatened to rack up a rugby score, the Blues took their foot off the pedal and quickly lapsed into the unconvincing, mistake-addled team they have so often been over the past month.

Coupled with their maddening susceptibility to set-piece goals, one that looks as though it will continue as long as Marco Silva persists with this hybrid of zonal and man marking, it gave Lincoln a way back into the game in the 27th minute.

Matters improved after half-time when Tom Davies was hooked in favour of André Gomes but there remained a lack of fluidity and confidence about Everton that suggests it’s going to continue to be a difficult road while the manager searches for the answers to a poor run of form since the Merseyside derby.

If the New Year’s Day defeat to Leicester demonstrated anything it’s that mentally and physically, Everton were struggling from a gruelling festive programme, one that had compounded the last-gasp punch to the gut at Anfield and the twin disappointments against Newcastle and Watford that followed.

In response, Gomes, Richarlison, Michael Keane, Theo Walcott and the virtually ever-present Lucas Digne were rested and opportunities to impress against an inferior side were handed to Tom Davies, the fit-again Ademola Lookman and Leighton Baines while Dominic Calvert-Lewin was preferred to Cenk Tosun up front and Bernard was back in the starting XI out wide.

And from the opening minute, it looked as though the replacements would seize their chance, with Lookman smashing a cracking left-footed effort just over the bar from outside the box.

The 21-year-old would find the net via the more unexpected route of his head 11 minutes, though, as Everton’s early pressure and slicker passing told. Spreading the ball across the pitch, the Blues eventually worked the ball wide the over-lapping Baines who curled a cross to the back post where, unmarked, Lookman looped a header over the goalkeeper and over the goal line where the covering defender couldn’t keep it out.

Two minutes later it was 2-0 and Everton were flying. Another nicely-worked move saw Gylfi Sigurdsson find Calvert-Lewin in the area, he played Bernard in behind the last man and the Brazilian lifted the ball expertly over Josh Vickers.

Lookman then missed narrowly with an attempted curler from 20 yards and Calvert-Lewin was denied by Vickers after he had knocked the ball past his man and bore down on the keeper as the Blues threatened to add to their lead.

The impetus suddenly and inexplicably left the Blues’ game, however, after that and Lincoln started growing in the game. John Akinde had been giving Kurt Zouma plenty of problems early on, not least when the Frenchman gave the ball away in the middle of the park and was then “skinned” by the burly striker as he tried to ward him off, but it was Mina’s cheap foul that handed the Imps a free-kick opportunity from which they scored.

The dead ball picked Jason Shackell out free in the six-yard box and while his point-blank header was repelled by Jordan Pickford, the rebound fell straight to Michael Bostwick who converted from close range.

For the next half hour of the match, Everton struggled to rediscover their rhythm, even after Silva had moved to address the lack of control in the middle by replacing the disappointing Davies with Gomes at half-time. This was the kind of match that the likes of Sigurdsson, Idrissa Gueye and Bernard, all of whom who have played in World Cups, should have been absolutely bossing from start to finish and for the likes of Davies, Calvert-Lewin and Tosun, it was a chance to really shine.

Of the younger players drafted into the side, Lookman was the only one who made a strong case in patches for a regular first-choice berth and only Baines lived up to his billing as a former international and Premier League star.

In terms of his offensive production, this was vintage Baines but too many of his team-mates seemed bereft of confidence and unable to reliably find a blue shirt. Lincoln deserved enormous credit for their industry and their determination to close down every ball and for long periods Everton had few answers to it.

The introduction of Gomes, with his calm on the ball and ability to keep cycling it through midfield eventually allowed Everton to regain the upper hand and Sigurdsson was twice foiled by the Lincoln back line either side of the hour mark. First, Vickers dived to his left to push away a powerful shot from the Icelandic international and then, after Sigurdsson had played a one-two with Baines, the last defender was able to deflect his shot behind for a corner.

Baines had a decent shout for a penalty turned down when he was flattened in the box but Everton’s ability to put the game to bed meant that the last 10 minutes or so were unnecessarily nervy.

Richarlison, on for Sigurdsson as an 80th-minute sub, had to put the ball over his own crossbar following a Lincoln free-kick and then a corner and when Shay McCartan stole in in the 90th minute in a rare opening for the visitors from open play, Zouma came across well to toe it away from him.

In between, Richarlison had gone very close to notching Everton’s third but his shot fizzed wide and Tosun saw a shot from Baines’s low centre comfortably gathered by the keeper but in the end the two early goals proved to be enough.

In the cup, the final score is always paramount and, in that respect, the Blues being in the hat for the next round is what matters. In the context of this match being an opportunity to reset, for the players to re-find their groove and build their confidence, and in view of the calibre of the opposition, this should have been a lot more convincing than it was.

Next Sunday’s clash with Bournemouth, when a more familiar starting XI will no doubt be deployed after the first week-long break the players will have had since mid-December, will be more instructive as to how Silva and his staff have been able to right the ship after a turbulent month.

And while this wasn’t the kind of dominant performance Evertonians would have hoped for, both Silva and Marcel Brands will have added more information and context to their plans for further strengthening the squad, whether that is advanced during the current transfer window or over the summer.

Lyndon Lloyd

Matchday Updates

Everton's FA Cup campaign kicked off this afternoon against Lincoln City and they went into an early and very impressive two-goal lead with some great football, only to sit back and cede the initiative to the Imps through a series of set-pieces, one generating a reply when Bostwick prodded home Pickford's parried save.

Lookman, Davies Calvert-Lewin, Mina and Kenny started in a relatively strong team, with Richarlison, Gomes and Coleman — all who have been poor in recent games — on the bench with James McCarthy. Walcott — who has been terrible — was dropped; Keane and Digne were not in the matchday squad.

Lincoln kicked off but it was Everton who showed the first signs, a superb effort from Ademola Lookman zipping fractionally over the bar. Zouma was very sloppy at the other end, letting Akinde run at Pickford's goal.

Baines got wide left and delivered a fine ball to the far post where Lookamn got great height for a looping header to the far side of the goal, beating everyone. A great start for the Blues.

Then a finely worked goal, finished with a lovely chip by Bernard following a great through-ball from Calvert-Lewin after Sigurdsson picked him out. Very nice movement and execution.

Lookmmn fired in a fantastic shot that looked to be curling inside the far post but flew inches wide. Calvert-Lewin was gifted a loose ball and danced in on the keeper who got a vital touch to deflect the ball behind and the corner came to nothing.

But Everton continued playing good football, forcing the Imps to defend their area with an air of desperation. Lincoln did break out and had some fair possession but the shot from Frecklington was very wayward. However, Mina gave away another free-kick that O'Connor whipped in, spilt by Pickford, and it was easily prodded home by Bostwick. Poor from Mina, poor from Pickford, poor zonal marking.

A couple more set-pieces — corners — threatened the Blues goal, and had Everton rocking, the travelling Imps fans loving every minute of it as they made the Blues defence look laughable.

Another cheap free-kick given away in a dangerous area, but it was played short and the routine did not come off, an opportunity to test the Blues back four missed. Davies was very lucky not to be called for a poor piece of football after his first touch was threatened by O'Connor.

A dreadfully clumsy challenge by Zouma gave away the next free-kick, this one further out and flicked away by Yerry Mina, with Everton pinned back for an extended period of the first half, following a brilliant start, as if they thought it was game over at 2-0.

Silva decided, somewhat uncharacteristically, that changes were needed: Gomes and Tosun on for Davies and Calvert-Lewin, neither of whom had looked much good as Lincoln sought to control the majority of the first half.

Gomes restarted the game but the shape and intent was not much different, the Blues failing to create much joined-up football, conceding possession cheaply, totally failing to play out from the back with any conviction, they looked very unconvincing. Akinde looked to get behind the defence but inadvertently hand-balled.

Sigurdsson was not having a good game, getting dispossessed with ease. But he did get a sight of goal and half-volleyed it superbly goalward, saved very well by Vickers. At the other end, Gueye gave it away to Anderson but was rescued and Bernard looked to play in Gomes but his shot was a long way off target.

Kenny got forward but his cross only found a defender; likewise for Loookman's shot as Everton finally started to press forward with some meaning, but Lincoln were now well organized, forcing the Blues back to the half-way line. It opened up enough for Sigurdsson to shoot, blocked behind by Bostwick. Mina was close to the well-delivered corner but instead, Lincoln cleared.

Some better play from a fine cross-field pass by Zouma ended with Baines's cross headed away. Bernard tried to run in but laid off to Gueye, and the Blues were trying to walk in the third goal, shots being blocked too easily. At least it was a period of pressure mid-way through the second half, with Vickers not really being tested until Tosun got in but did far too little with a lame flick on the end of Baines's superb cross.

Lookman and Kenny combined and Kenny did well to get a corner, Baines finding the head of the first defender at the near post. Everton were passing the ball around well enough but not really getting anywhere near the Lincoln goal.

Baines got firmly bundled off the ball in the Lincoln area but no penalty. A corner saw Bernard lashing the ball high and wide as Richarlison replaced Sigurdsson for the last 10 minutes.

Another dangerous free-kick for Lincoln, delivered deep to the far post, needed the intervention from Kenny for the corner: that was delivered deep and Richarlison had to head behind the ball that came back in, almost out of Pickford's hands.

Richarlison then took a sniper shot to the mouth, probably grazed the back of Ardley's hand, and collapsed in a now-trademark heap, demanding treatment for his playacting that did not fool the referee. Richarlison then played with a big a man-size wet-wipe stuffed in his mouth until he finally got half a chance that he drove wide.

The Blues kept probing, Baines picking out Tosun with a low cross that he prodded goalward without much conviction. At the other end, Zouma defended well, Lincoln screaming for a penalty that never was. McCartan tried again to get Mina in trouble this time, winning a late corner kindly plyaed straight to Bernard.

Richarlison got in behind and ran in on goal but his touch was awful and he squandered any chance to shoot, in what turned out to be the final move of a poor showing really considering that they should have pressed home a much more convincing victory.

But the Blues are through to Round 4 of the FA Cup and that's really all that matters.

Scorers: Lookman (12'), Bernard (14'); Bostwick (28')

Everton: Pickford, Kenny, Mina, Zouma, Baines, Gana, Davies (46' Gomes), Bernard, Sigurdsson (80' Richarlison), Lookman, Calvert-Lewin (46' Tosun).
Subs: Stekelenburg, Jagielka, Coleman, McCarthy.

Lincoln City: Vickers, O'Connor (74' McCartan), Shackell, Pett (78' Chapman), Frecklington, Andrade, Toffolo, Bostwick, Eardley, Anderson, Akinde (70' Rhead).
Subs not Used: Slocombe, Gordon, Wharton, Mensah.

Referee: John Brooks

Attendance: 37,900

Michael Kenrick

Stern test from The Imps but we're in the hat

We proudly drove over to the game at about 12.30pm. I say proudly, because it was the first taste of Everton for Elliot - my two year-old son. And though testing on a few occasions, it was a joy to indoctrinate the boy at Goodison Park.

At the pub they were nice and accommodating for him. Ordinarily we walk up to Goodison Park at about 2.40pm, but this time gave ourselves a bit more time and were into the ground at about 2.20pm. It was actually quite nice to see the players warm up and Elliot seemed to enjoy absorbing the atmosphere even if he didn’t really know a lot about what was going on.

We got the team news is the pub, and though there were five changes, I was surprised, pleasantly, with the team. I expected more players to be given a rest but it’s nice to see that Marco, perhaps as a consequence of current form, taking the competition seriously.

Not that Lincoln City are a team to be taken lightly of course. Only two seasons ago in their promotion back from the National League to League Two, they reached the quarter finals of the FA Cup, knocking out League One Oldham Athletic, Championship teams Brighton & Hove Albion (who were promoted to the Premier League that season of course) and Ipswich Town; and defeated Premier League Burnley at Turf Moor in the 5th Round before finally succumbing to Arsenal in the last eight. They also won the FA Trophy Cup that season and now sit at the top of League Two and are very much a club on the up. A nice success story, and one we would rather have not been a part of in this fixture.

Thankfully we started well and effectively had the game wrapped up inside the opening 15 minutes thanks to two goals in as many minutes from Ademola Lookman and Bernard, both of which were put in the net smartly following nice build up play. The first started when Tom Davies, somewhat waywardly, switched play out to the left to Leighton Baines and following several passes, Baines was released by Idrissa Gueye and put in a superb delivery for Lookman to head smartly past the goalkeeper and over the line.

The second was a great finish by Bernard, this one lofted over the keeper again following a good passing move which finalised with Gylfi Sigurdsson fizzing a ball in to Dominic Calvert-Lewin who nicely teed up Bernard to do the rest. I’m pleased to see Bernard finally get a goal for Everton. On countless occasions now he’s got himself into a good position and had an opportunity to score a goal or provide an assist but his final decision making has been lacking. Hopefully this can be a catalyst for Everton to make more of these opportunities.

Everton were cruising now and for a while you dared to think this may be a case of “how many?”. Ademola Lookman curled a fabulous effort around the post and Dominic Calvert-Lewin was through on goal but the keeper saved well as Everton threatened to turn the screw.

Typically Everton made a mess of this superiority far too easily. Yerry Mina was poor in giving away a soft free kick to John Akinde. It was a good ball in but Gylfi let his runner John Shackell go too easily and his free header was well saved by Jordan Pickford. However Michael Bostwick was first to react to smash the ball into the net to put Lincoln City back in the game.

While I’m pleased Everton have improved immeasurably at defending set-pieces in the first phase (albeit not on this occasion), we need to get more alert to the second ball. In three of our last four games now we’ve conceded from the rebound. Granted there’s not always something you can do about it, but it was too easy at Turf Moor and the Falmer Stadium.

We struggled through the remainder of the half with the noisy 5,481 Lincoln City supporters now whipped up into a frenzy and backing their team all the way. We got to the break unscathed, and Marco Silva used the half time opportunity to try and sort a few things out with a change of personnel, hooking Tom Davies and Dominic Calvert-Lewin for the more experienced pair of Andrew Gomes and Cenk Tosun.

Though we were back to creating opportunities again, we couldn’t take any of them and The Imps remained in the game right to the death. Gylfi Sigurdsson’s half-volley from distance was well-beaten away by Josh Vickers, Leighton Baines tumbled in the penalty area but it wasn’t given - I guess that depends which club you play for; while Cenk Tosun and Richarlison both missed good opportunities to put the game to bed.

Thankfully Lincoln City, though in the game throughout, didn’t really create that killer opportunity to level the game. Richarlison headed a ball out from just short of the goal line as the game ticked towards its conclusion; and substitute Shay McCartan went down in our penalty area. It didn’t look a penalty but with the Lincoln CIty supporters screaming for it and referee John Brooks having given us little all game, you half-expected him to point to the spot though thankfully he didn’t.

At full time usually we’re quick to scurry off home but this time, to save dragging our toddler through the busy streets we hung around a while. It was actually quite enjoyable. Jordan Pickford kindly came over to the Lower Gwladys and donated his gloves to a young supporter. It was also nice to see the Lincoln CIty players applauded off the pitch. It was well deserved as they’d given us quite a game, and it’s nice, for the first time in three years, to make it into the hat for the fourth round.

If we were more clinical our passage may have been more comfortable but that for me has been our biggest problem all season. We don’t, generally, concede a lot of chances but in key moments in a lot of games we’ve missed great opportunities. Games, to my mind, against West Ham United, Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool, Watford, Manchester City and Brighton and Hove Albion have seen us miss big, costly, opportunities which could see us standing much higher in the league.

If our players can take these chances, or if we can sign players that can, we could be on to something.

Player ratings:

Pickford: The one time he was called upon he made a good save but nobody else was alert to it and we went behind. He didn’t have much else to do otherwise but distributed well. 7

Baines: He was excellent and I suppose it’s credit to Lucas Digne;s quality, availability and fitness that Marco hasn’t felt a need to call upon Leighton at any point in the league. That said, I think there’s worthiness in keeping players involved. Leighton is clearly still up to it and while he may be able to contribute for us for another year or two, we’d be loath to lose him, and lose him we may if he is seeking game time. He was class as ever and put in a good ball for the first goal and got forward brilliantly. 7

Mina: I’m not convinced by Yerry and his slack defending in giving away a poor free kick lead to their goal. He needs time of course. He is still learning the language and it’s a new league to him. He had a stellar World Cup and with a background including Barcelona I expect he will much improve over time but I’d be sticking with Kurt Zouma and Michael Keane for now. Yerry’s height and ability to play a ball out of defence are two things I like about him and if he can get more dominant and decisive in defence we could have a good player there. 5

Zouma: Good and solid. 6

Kenny: Did well I thought. What I like about Jonjo is his aggression. He loves a tackle and likes to know the winger know he’s there. Has done his first team opportunities no harm at all. 6

Gueye: Won many balls and kept things ticking over nicely. 6

Davies: I thought he was doing OK an was a bit surprised to see he was substituted but Andre does bring with him that sense of calm. 6

Bernard: Nice to see him score his first goal and his movement and cleverness on the ball was excellent. More goals and assists now please Bernard. My man of the match. 8

Lookman: Also did well and I’d like to see him start against Bournemouth to give him an opportunity to build on this positive performance. Nicely taken goal also. 7

Sigurdsson: Did OK. I imagine Marco hadn’t planned on using him for a whole 80 minutes but needs must I suppose. 6

Calvert-Lewin: Was doing fine. It might have been the plan from the start to give he and Cenk half a game each. 6

Substitutes:

Gomes (for Davies): Brought a bit of calmness to the field and helped us settle down in the second half. 6

Tosun (for Calvert-Lewin): Missed a good chance and though he tries it didn’t quite work for him. Sadly, because he seems a good lad, you feel time is running out for Cenk at Everton. 5

Richarlison (for Sigurdsson): He got involved and did OK but I really wish he’d curb this rolling around. I think he cut his lip not long after coming on but rolled around like an extra from that D-Day scene in Saving Private Ryan. You want players to just get on with these things really. It’s frustrating me to hell and not fooling anyone. 6

Paul Traill

Well I didn’t think it was too bad

Back from collecting Emily from a dubious looking nightclub in Exeter around 1 am, I had a maximum of 5 hours to grab some sleep before getting to Taunton for the West Country Blues coach pick-up. Ron (our chairman) failed a late fitness test on a sprained ankle so Mike took on the captaincy for the day.

A part of the M5 was closed and we were stuck in an awful traffic jam which added an hour to our journey and left a few of the guys freezing their nuts off for 1¼ hours waiting to be picked up — they’re a hardy bunch these West Country Blueboys!

Nevertheless, we made good time and pulled up at Stanley Park around 1:30 pm. A brisk walk followed by a cup of tea in the church hall (and a quiet prayer for the match) and I then had the honour of presenting Bill Kenwright with West Country Blues mugs for himself and Mr Moshiri — let’s hope they are lifting a cup come May rather than a mug! These were accepted with thanks for such long-distance support — the coach was full with 56 members — and it was on with the game.

The first 25 minutes was really good — some of the best football I have seen from us in quite a while, not least because of the sharp and precision passing of Baines. Lookman was in the mood and it was no surprise to see him score although celebrations were muted because it didn’t look like it was going in from my seat in the main stand. The second goal was lovely — the much maligned Calvert-Lewin playing an important part in setting up Bernard for a very classy finish. At this point, I was thinking in terms of six- or seven-nil but we took our foot off the gas and, from a silly free-kick, they pulled one back.

So many posters on this site reckoned it was like the Alamo after that but whilst they had most of the possession up to half time we defended well and Mina and Zouma headed everything away from goal. Marco showed that he does know when to change things around by bringing on Gomes to keep possession and this worked a treat. I can’t recall Lincoln getting close to a goal in the second half as Gomes, Baines and Bernard kept the ball pretty well and the defence was solid.

The Lincoln fans were brilliant — what a row they generated almost for the entire match and it was because of this that so many of our fans thought we were in trouble, in my opinion. The noise they created made you think they were giving us more trouble than they actually did; I thought we managed the second half well and were unlucky not to score again.

Many people near me criticised Pickford for not coming for crosses. Not me — he is too small to be competing with big centre-forwards — he will get knocked off the ball. Surely it’s better to make use of Mina and Zouma who are built to cope with this and leave Jordan on his line to make the save if necessary? I thought his distribution was excellent.

Kenny, like all of our youngsters gets totally unfair criticism and I thought he had a good game in both attack and defence. The centre-backs were solid if you ignore the free-kick given away which led to the goal and Zouma bravely stuck to his task despite getting roughed up by their huge striker.

Baines was superb – could he combine with Digne down the left flank? Gana was Gana — work rate and interceptions were fine but passing forward hit and miss. He is a good player but one who I would replace to improve us. Likewise Sigurdsson who had a quiet game. He is a funny player as he produces moments of great skill but never dominates the midfield — a luxury player for me, and I don’t see us breaking the top 6 with him in the side. The bloke next to me thought he was brilliant... which shows how differently we all see the game.

Bernard had his best game for us and, whilst you could say it was because it was Lincoln, I had expected them to bully him, but he was too quick for them and when he was caught he showed that he is tough enough too.

Lookman faded after a great first 25 minutes but was always a threat. This lad moves like a top-class player and I would give him a good run in the side now as I think he could be special. Calvert-Lewin is someone I have defended all season against the unjustified criticism and abuse and I thought he had a decent half. Tosun, by comparison, was pretty awful. He is a funny player as he has no pace, no power, not good with his head, can’t beat a man — I don’t really know what he is good at, to be honest... though he did, of course, score quite regularly for us last season. I think he will be on his way.

Tom Davies was okay but I think needs his role to be defined. He was trying to play a possession game but I don’t think that is him. I see him more as box-to-box and Gomes is in his way. Speaking of whom, he is class — total class.

Marco Silva needs to have a word with Richarlison and tell him to cut out the playacting. Okay, he took one to the mouth, which was bleeding, but he will endear himself more to the fans if he plays the tough guy rather than the cry baby.

Full-time and a comfortable win, I thought, though I was biting my new Christmas gloves when they got the corner in added time.

The journey home was good and I got in at 11:15pm, a long day but very enjoyable and made even more so by winning one of the scratch card raffles on the coach which paid my fare!

Looking ahead, we all know we need a striker. I saw Graeme Sharp at the game and he looks well enough to play half-an-hour – if only!! I think we have a good set of defenders now but they need time to bed in both as a back line and in combining with the rest of the team. It is so unreasonable for anyone to expect a new manager to transform a team in half a season and Marco needs time.

Howard Kendall took a couple of seasons before things suddenly clicked, Klopp and Poch both needed time and even Pep had to fiddle around a bit at first. I don’t know whether Marco has it or not (I think Marcel does) but this time next season will be a fairer time to start judging him. It sounds like Farhad means business from what was said at the AGM and how great to hear such positive intent from the board.

The work of the supporters clubs up and down the country goes unnoticed much of the time and I am sure that there are lots of others who do sterling work travelling long distances like this one does. The guys who run them get no reward and probably are taken for granted by many of their members so heartfelt thanks from me to Ron, Mike, Ian and the rest of the team for making travel to the Old Lady so easy.

Dave Williams

Match Preview

Everton's FA Cup campaign kicks off this afternoon against Lincoln City and in the context of a season that has veered off the rails over the last month, it's a match that has taken on extra importance.

The visitors to Goodison Park may be from the lower reaches of the Football League but the Blues' increasingly fragile confidence, combined with the unpredictability of the cup and the pitfalls of too may personnel changes, means that this will be far from a formality for Marco Silva's side.

Silva badly needs a victory to inject some belief back into a group of players that has won just once in the last seven games but on whom a gruelling festive programme had clearly taken its toll by the time Leicester had left Merseyside with all three points on Tuesday.

The manager will undoubtedly make changes for today's tie but home many and where those changes will come remains to be seen.

At the very least, André Gomes will surely sit out after his tired display against the Foxes which saw him withdrawn after an hour's play of the 1-0 defeat. The Portuguese has started every match since belatedly making his Everton debut after recovering from a hamstring injury and the effects of his first Premier League winter have been unmissable.

He is likely to be replaced by Tom Davies rather than James McCarthy who is medically fit again following his double leg break but lacks match sharpness and strength and probably won't be risked.

Lucas Digne has also been ever-present since being rested for the League Cup defeat to Southampton in September and he, too, could drop back to the bench in favour of Leighton Baines.

Ademola Lookman, meanwhile, is fit again and Silva hinted that he could make his first start since the home draw with Newcastle last month, most likely in place of Theo Walcott who played more minutes over the Christmas period than most and has, in any case, been struggling for form.

In terms of the remainder of the line-up, much will depend on how much faith Silva has in any other replacement players he might field and how bold he dare be with the number of changes he makes given what happened in the Carabao Cup.

This is The Imps' first trip to Goodison since losing to the Toffees over two legs in the second round of the 1993-94 League Cup but they will travel with the confidence that comes from being the clear leaders of League Two.

They have lost just four games all season but regardless of what side Silva puts out, Everton should have too much for them.

Kick-off: 3pm, Saturday, 5th January 2019
Referee:
Last Time: Everton 4 - 2 Lincoln City (Coca Cola Cup 2nd Round, 2nd Leg; no prior FA Cup meeting)

Predicted Line-up: Pickford, Kenny, Zouma, Mina, Baines, Gueye, Davies, Sigurdsson, Lookman, Bernard, Tosun

Lyndon Lloyd

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