Stevenage v Everton
Everton cruised into the fifth round of the FA Cup with a 4-0 victory over Stevenage at the Lamex Stadium.
Two goals from Steven Naismith, another for John Heitinga’s FA Cup collection and a late effort from Magaye Gueye were sufficient to see The Toffees through in a contest marred by a dreadful injury to Bryan Oviedo.
The League One side posted some early intent by forcing a first-minute corner and then almost taking a shock lead when a shot by Lucas Akins was cleared off the line by John Stones.
Blue nerves were calmed though in the 5th minute. A low drive by Kevin Mirallas was palmed away by Chris Day but Aiden McGeady, making his full debut, pulled the loose ball back across the goal for Naismith to convert.
There was a sickening incident in the 14th minute when Oviedo slid in to challenge Simon Heslop and as he lay stricken you could tell by the frantic reaction of the players that the Costa Rican had picked up a serious injury.
After several minutes of attention on the pitch a clearly distressed Oviedo was stretchered off and rushed straight to hospital.
On 24 minutes Gareth Barry uncharacteristically gave the ball away in midfield and in his eagerness to win it back he clattered into Luke Freeman on the edge of the box. Filipe Morais’ subsequent strike was clawed away spectacularly by Joel Robles.
Everton went two goals up in the 31st minute. Leon Osman, on as a replacement for the unfortunate Oviedo, slid the ball through to Naismith who kept his composure to slide a neat finish past Day.
McGeady was enjoying a productive evening and he showed his confidence when he attempted to chip the keeper from 20-yards but just failed to get the required elevation.
Barry was next to try his luck when he thundered in a shot during one of the six minutes of first-half added time but it was blocked as it fizzed towards the goal.
Defender Heitinga came off the bench for the second half, with Phil Jagielka withdrawn, and one of his first contributions was to find the net! An acrobatic overhead kick by Mirallas was headed in by the Dutchman to make it 3-0 in the 53rd minute.
There were further opportunities for both sides. Leighton Baines blasted a direct free-kick high over the bar from 25-yards in the 66th minute and Francois Zoko prodded the ball wide from ten yards for Stevenage.
The fourth goal was a well-taken individual effort from Gueye. The Frenchman skipped past a couple of challenges inside the box and slipped the ball past Day.
In the dying stages Joel was called upon to make a brave double stop to ensure his goal was not breached as the Blues secured their passage into the fifth round.