Full-time report: Stevenage 0 Everton 4
- Credit: Archant
Goals from Steven Naismith (two), Johnny Heitinga and Magaye Gueye end Boro’s run in this season’s FA Cup
Stevenage 0 Everton 4
FA Cup fourth round
Stevenage’s hopes of another incredible night at the Lamex Stadium were ended by a dynamic Everton outfit this evening.
Boro had gone into the game hoping to emulate the side that had given Newcastle United a pasting some three years ago on this very ground, but two Steven Naismith goals in the first half plus two more in the second from Johnny Heitinga and Magaye Gueye ended their hopes of another shock result.
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There had been talk prior to the match from Stevenage about the state of the pitch, while from the Toffees camp manager Roberto Martinez had said that it was the home side, some two divisions below, who were the favourites.
Yet Everton controlled much of the ball and dictated the play, with the trickery of Kevin Mirallas, Aidan McGeady and Naismith proving too much for Boro.
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Graham Westley was without the injured Michael Doughty so had a reshuffle with Darius Charles coming in for his first start since he was injured at Goodison Park earlier in the season.
Charles partnered skipper Jon Ashton at centre-back, meaning Luke Jones moved out to the right of a back four while Jimmy Smith started in midfield.
Everton took the lead after just five minutes, and it was Naismith who got it.
Much of the pre-match talk had been about whether the Toffees would risk starting Romelu Lukaku with the Merseyside derby in four days’ time, and Naismith had hardly been given a mention.
Yet when Chris Day kept out Mirallas’ low drive from 20 yards, the ball was played back across goal by McGeady and Naismith was there to drive the ball home from close range.
Boro had already had a chance by this point, Lucas Akins seeing his effort blocked in the box by John Stones, and following the goal Luke Freeman teed up Filipe Morais on the right and his cross was headed clear with Smith lurking.
Bryan Oviedo was stretchered off on 20 minutes with a suspected broken leg in a challenge with Simon Heslop and was taken straight to hospital. When play resumed, after Oviedo had been replaced by Leon Osman, Boro’s smart set piece saw Freeman pull the ball to the side of the wall and force a low save out of Joel Robles.
Boro, though, conceded a second goal 10 minutes later, and once against Naismith was the scorer after Ashton could only get a touch on an Osman through ball and the Scottish international ran through to put his low shot past Day.
Phil Jagielka, who was taken off at half-time against Boro at Goodison Park earlier this season, made way again at the break here, with Heitinga coming on.
The Dutch defender had an immediate impact, getting his side’s third of the game when Mirallas’ overhead kick on the left flew over to him to head in off Charles at the back post.
Boro’s liveliest player was Freeman, with his pace forcing Everton to double-mark him whenever possible. Yet with 25 minutes to go the tricky wide took up possession on the left and sent in a good cross which Zoko controlled but, leaning back, he poked it the wrong side of the post.
Boro sent on Dean Parrett for Luke Jones, with Smith dropping to right-back, and they had two good chances in the dying moments of the match only to be denied by Robles.
First he saved from Charles, who had broken through the Everton defence, and when the ball was only half-cleared Parrett fired goalwards only for Robles to get in the way again and deny Boro at the death.
Stevenage: Day, Hartley, Charles, Ashton, Jones (Parrett 70), Morais (Andrade 80), Freeman, Smith, Heslop, Akins, Zoko (Deacon 84). Subs: A Smith, Wedgbury, Burrow, Tounkara.
Everton: Robles, Hibbert, Baines, Jegielka (Heitinga 46), Stones, McGeady, Oviedo (Osman 20), McCarthy, Barry, Miralles (Gueye 80), Naismith. Subs: Howard, Lukaku, Vellios, McAleny.
Ref: A Taylor