Salomon Rondon scored twice as Everton eventually eased to a 2-0 fifth-round victory over non-League Boreham Wood to set up an FA Cup quarter-final date with Crystal Palace.
The first goals conceded by the National League side – 77 places below the top-flight Toffees – in this season’s competition were enough to be their downfall with the visiting defence eventually breached by the Venezuelan’s near-post finish in the 57th minute.
A powerful header from Rondon, which Taye Ashby-Hammond – who also made one good, low save from substitute Richarlison – could not prevent from crossing the line, then guaranteed progress six minutes from time.
Although Richarlison also had a goal ruled out for handball by VAR, the Boreham Wood goalkeeper had an easier night than he would have anticipated.
Rondon’s rare double, taking his tally to three in 17 appearances since arriving as one of three summer signings in Rafael Benitez’s ill-fated and short-lived reign, set up a last-eight tie away to Crystal Palace.
Everton: Begovic (6), Kenny (6), Patterson (6), Keane (6), Brantwaite (6), Mykolenko (6), Allan (6), Doucoure (6), Gordon (7), Townsend (6), Rondon (8).
Subs: Richarlison (6), Coleman (6), Price (n/a), Dobbin (n/a), Welch (n/a).
Boreham Wood: Ashby-Hammond (6), Evans (7), Stephens (7), Stevens (6), Mendy Mendy (6), K. Smith (7), Ricketts (6), Rees (6), Raymond (6), Boden (6), Marsh (6).
Subs: Comley (5), C. Smith (5), Clifton (n/a), Ranger (n/a).
Man of the Match: Salomon Rondon
Everton labor before Rondon heroics
Everton had funded a special one-off kit for Boreham Wood to avoid a clash and also paid for the visitors’ travel and overnight stay. And that generosity was extended to the pitch with a dreadful first half.
Ukraine international Vitaliy Mykolenko was made Everton captain for the night and there was a poignant pre-match show of solidarity with his homeland as players and officials and held a banner reading ‘Imagine all the people, sharing all the world’ – a line from John Lennon’s Imagine which was played over the ground’s public address system.
Everton’s left-back was the first to test Ashby-Hammond, but the next challenge did not come until the 36th minute when Anthony Gordon whipped in a low, angled shot which bounced awkwardly in front of the goalkeeper who successfully clawed it away.
The awfulness of the first 45 minutes persuaded manager Frank Lampard to make a half-time change and it was the unfortunate Nathan Patterson, making his debut nearly two months after signing from Rangers, who had to make way for Richarlison.
Mykolenko was first to show again but his driven cross was missed by Rondon, who should then have buried Jonjoe Kenny’s cross but headed over.
- January signing Nathan Patterson was handed his debut and Ukraine international Vitalii Mykolenko was made captain as Everton made six changes from the weekend defeat to Man City.
- Boreham Wood named the same side which knocked out Bournemouth in the previous round.
Jarrad Branthwaite was spared embarrassment when he passed straight to Tyrone Marsh and was relieved to see the Boreham Wood forward drive a shot just over goalkeeper Asmir Begovic.
The growing frustration subsided when Rondon made amends for his earlier failures with a neatly-taken goal after nipping in front of center-back David Stephens to convert another Kenny cross.
For the second successful home match Everton were on the end of another controversial VAR handball decision – this time denying them a goal – when Richarlison’s close-range effort was chalked off after Adrian Clifton’s attempted headed clearance hit the Brazil international.
But Rondon ensured there was no late drama with a header which was adjudged to have crossed the line before Ashby-Hammond pulled it back.
Garrard reflects on fantastic FA Cup campaign
Boreham Wood manager Luke Garrard: “We didn’t really have many spells and they dominated the ball. We were waiting for one moment, but Everton managed it superbly. We just went over 500 minutes in the FA Cup without conceding a goal, but their movement and their runs were just class.
“The fans have been amazing they didn’t stop singing. It’s a shame we didn’t give them their moment, but they were class and they gave us everything. What this group has done is fantastic and we have been in the last 16 of a national cup competition.”
FA Cup quarter-final draw
Middlesbrough’s reward for knocking Tottenham out of the FA Cup is a home quarter-final against Chelsea.
Boro followed up their fourth-round penalty shoot-out win over Manchester United by deservedly beating Spurs 1-0 after extra time on Tuesday and will now face a third Premier League giant in the last eight.
Chelsea beat Luton on Wednesday and make the long trip north looking to make it back to Wembley for the semi-finals, having been beaten in the last season’s final.
Six-time winners Manchester City have been handed a tough draw as they visit Premier League outfit Southampton, while Liverpool – fresh from winning the Carabao Cup on Sunday – are guaranteed Championship opposition after being drawn against the winner of Nottingham Forest and Huddersfield, who play on Monday night.
The final tie sees Everton travel to Crystal Palace. Matches will be played over the weekend of March 19/20.
Everton travel to Tottenham on Monday Night Football at 8pm – live on Sky Sports Premier League – while Boreham Wood travel to Wrexham in the National League on Tuesday at 7.45pm.
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