by Matthew Gamble @Everton

Naismith Targets First Leg Advantage

After the highs of February, Everton's campaign suffered a telling blow as March got underway.

The last hope of silverware for 2010/11 was extinguished with a disappointing home defeat to Reading at the fifth round stage.

With a quarter-final tie at Manchester City on offer for the winners - and after the heroics of the penalty shoot-out success at Chelsea - Everton were the favourites in the clash with The Royals.

Everton dominated possession but couldn't find an answer to Matt Mills' first half goal, ensuring an anti-climactic end to a Cup run that had promised so much after Stamford Bridge.

Seamus Coleman  scores against Fulham

Typically, the Blues responded to that setback in defiant manner. Four days later they travelled to the north east to record an impressive 2-1 victory over Newcastle. Mikel Arteta was inspirational on the left-flank as David Moyes' men bounced back from a goal down to seal the three points. All the goals came in the first half, Leon Best's fortuitous strike providing the home side with the lead for just eight minutes before a cracker from Leon Osman on the half hour levelled. Phil Jagielka was the unlikely match winner five minutes later, stabbing home from a brilliant Leighton Baines free-kick.

The win moved the Blues to 10th in the table, level on points with the Magpies.

But, after that success, another evening of frustration awaited at Goodison. A torn hamstring for Arteta, just as he was rediscovering his best form, set the tone for the evening as Everton played host to Birmingham. An uninspiring 1-1 stalemate will be best remembered for a thumper from John Heitinga - his first goal in a Blue shirt - and little else.

A rollercoaster month concluded with a welcome home victory. Fulham were the visitors overcome courtesy of a first half Seamus Coleman strike and a second Louis Saha effort. Clint Dempsey struck a second half consolation as the visitors rallied to make it a nervy end to the afternoon for the home side.

But the three points ensured that, despite the month having started so badly, it ended with the Toffees on the up, climbing into eight place as the race to the finish began in earnest.