National League Boreham Wood’s incredible FA Cup journey came to an end but not without forcing Premier League Everton to dig deep for their narrow fifth-round victory.
The Hertfordshire club have been the story of this season’s tournament so far with their run but, despite a valiant effort roared on by thousands of travelling fans, they were undone by Salomon Rondon’s two second-half goals.
The Venezuelan striker was set up by Seamus Coleman to steer in a shot just before the hour and then headed a second late in the game from a corner to settle the tie.
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Richarlison also had the ball in the net, but saw his effort ruled out for handball by VAR, rubbing salt into still raw wounds from the penalty the Blues were denied by the technology against Manchester City at the weekend.
The result sets up a quarter-final tie at fellow Premier League side Crystal Palace for the Blues, who made six changes but still fielded a side strong enough to have produced a far more dynamic performance.
For much of the game they struggled as the visitors staged a masterclass in how to frustrate a superior opponent, defending with intelligence and dogged determination.
Wood departed the competition to cheers and with more than just gate receipts and television money in the bank.
There were also emotional scenes before kick-off, with both sets of players coming on to the field with Ukrainian flags in support of the country and its people following the invasion by Russia.
The theme to Z Cars – the traditional anthem by which teams come out at Goodison – then switched to John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’, with the players holding aloft a banner together that read: ‘Imagine all the people, sharing all the world’.
In another sign of solidarity, Everton’s captain for the night was Ukrainian international full-back Vitalii Mykolenko.
Everton get business done … just
Before the game, Boreham Wood manager Luke Garrard described it as a “free hit” – a no-lose game which his side could attack knowing everyone expected them to lose heavily.
The Wood boss is clearly smarter than that, though, as illustrated by the intelligent manner in which he set his side up to hamper the home side and play on their insecurities.
Operating with a flat back five, ably assisted by hard-working defensive midfielders, his team stopped a side full of internationals from hurting them for almost an hour.
Every fluffed shot, each misplaced pass and cleared cross was cheered on from an away end that then burst into song declaring that they were Wembley bound.
Rondon’s second-half double ensured that would not be the case, while also sparing Everton’s blushes.
There is no disguising that the home side were poor, but they did deserve their win, with Boreham’s only real effort at goal a Tyrone Marsh shot after he had been gifted the ball by sloppy defending.
The Toffees could easily have added more to the scoreline by the end, with Richarlison’s disallowed goal preceding another two efforts from the Brazilian, one brilliantly saved, the other blocked.
But with all due respect to the Toffees the evening was not really about them – Frank Lampard hinted as much in his programme notes by declaring it was “all business” for his side.
With that taken care of, the Blues players departed the field to leave the Boreham players and fans to bask in the romance and in a stunning run that left them just one stage short of matching Lincoln’s record of being the only non-league side to reach an FA Cup quarter-final.
- 5KeaneSubstituted forPriceat 89′minutes
- 3PattersonSubstituted forRicharlisonat 45′minutes
- 6AllanSubstituted forWelchat 89′minutes
- 19MykolenkoSubstituted forColemanat 60′minutes
- 24GordonSubstituted forDobbinat 86′minutes
- 5EvansBooked at 59mins
- 19SmithSubstituted forSmithat 74′minutes
- 4RickettsSubstituted forComleyat 69′minutes
- 9BodenSubstituted forRangerat 89′minutes
- 10MarshSubstituted forCliftonat 90′minutes
- Tony Harrington
Match ends, Everton 2, Boreham Wood 0.
Second Half ends, Everton 2, Boreham Wood 0.
Attempt saved. Salomón Rondón (Everton) header from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.
Attempt missed. Richarlison (Everton) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right from a direct free kick.
Substitution, Boreham Wood. Adrian Clifton replaces Tyrone Marsh.
Substitution, Boreham Wood. Nile Ranger replaces Scott Boden.
Substitution, Everton. Isaac Price replaces Michael Keane.
Substitution, Everton. Reece Welch replaces Allan.
Séamus Coleman (Everton) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Connor Stevens (Boreham Wood).
Attempt blocked. Allan (Everton) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Abdoulaye Doucouré.
Attempt saved. Salomón Rondón (Everton) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Séamus Coleman with a through ball.
Foul by Abdoulaye Doucouré (Everton).
Frankie Raymond (Boreham Wood) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Substitution, Everton. Lewis Dobbin replaces Anthony Gordon.
Goal! Everton 2, Boreham Wood 0. Salomón Rondón (Everton) header from very close range to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Andros Townsend with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Everton. Conceded by Josh Rees.
Anthony Gordon (Everton) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Josh Rees (Boreham Wood).
Offside, Everton. Anthony Gordon tries a through ball, but Richarlison is caught offside.
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