Gordon influential as Everton see off stubborn Boreham Wood


Two second half goals from Salomon Rondon saw Everton reach the quarter-finals of the FA Cup at the expense of National League side Boreham Wood.

The non-league outfit took a sizeable travelling contingent up north on a Thursday night and made plenty of noise, particularly when watching the quarter-final draw on the big screen.

A game with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park would await the winners and the scene was set. Could the ‘Wood Army’ pull off a huge upset?

Before the game could kick off, both sets of players came together draped in Ukrainian flags and holding a message of solidarity for the Ukrainian people. This will have been particularly poignant for Everton’s captain on the night Vitalii Mykolenko who hails from the Eastern European country.

‘Imagine’ by Beatles legend John Lennon was played over the P.A system as the crowd joined in with applause, showing their support for the cause. It was a special moment and a touch of class from all concerned that left quite a few in the ground with a tear in the eye.

As inconsequential as it was in the context of what was just mentioned, there was still a game of football to be won. Everton started with a back three, handing a debut to Nathan Patterson.

The Toffees started slowly with Boreham Wood defending very deep and in great numbers. Everton have struggled at times this season to break teams down and early on in his tenure it is clear that Frank Lampard’s side are better as a counter-attacking outfit.

This was very evident in the first half as the ‘Toffees’ huffed and puffed, struggling to create any real chances to test Taye Ashby-Hammond in the Wood goal.

The tempo was much too slow with too little movement in the attacking areas to pull opposition defenders out of position.

Anthony Gordon was the man the ‘Blues’ turned to for inspiration and he was the only one that was giving Boreham Wood any genuine trouble.

Unfortunately for Everton, Gordon was having to drift inside too often to pick up possession and this suited Boreham Wood who were able to clog up the middle of the pitch and restrict the space for Everton to attack in.

The only area the Merseysiders were getting any joy from was on the right but Patterson’s deliveries were poor, not giving Rondon any chance to bully the defence and show his aerial prowess. The crowd were starting to get restless if not fearful of an upset.

Lampard needed to try something different and to his credit, his half-time change reaped dividends and let to a much stronger second half showing.

Richarlison would come on for Patterson which meant a change of shape. Everton now lined up in a back four with Jonjoe Kenny moving across to right-back and Gordon now having the freedom to attack down the left-hand side.

It was Kenny who helped supply the opening goal, his first chance of a cross much better than what came before, allowing Rondon to swoop in and beat Ashby-Hammond at this near post.

The goal allowed Everton to relax a bit more and Gordon seemed like he was on a personal mission to get himself on the scoresheet. The 21-year-old was doing what almost no other Everton players were willing to do-take risks.

Gordon was not afraid to take defenders on, even if sometimes it meant he’d lose the ball eventually, but his willingness to try things committed defenders and opened up space for his team mates.

The winger has been one of Lampard’s few shining lights in recent weeks and could have had an ‘assist’ here when his fierce shot was blocked only for the ball to ricochet off the arm of Richarlison and into the net. VAR duly ruled the goal out.

The former Preston loanee was relentless, attempting six shots in the second half alone. Finishing is something that will come with age but being fearless enough to have that many attempts will no doubt please his manager.

Rondon would seal the win late on when his header was adjudged to have crossed the line despite the valiant efforts of Ashby-Hammond in the Boreham Wood goal. The only surprised was that Gordon did not play a part in it.

The local lad was replaced towards the end of the game and was given a standing ovation by the Everton faithful. On this form he will be one of the first names on Lampard’s team sheet and will be gunning for Tottenham on Monday night.

The result was that what they would have wanted but Luke Garrard can be proud of his team’s efforts, with he and his players enjoying a nice moment with the travelling supporters after the game.

For Everton, attention now switches back to Premier League survival mode but they are now just one win away from Wembley. Do supporters dare to dream of a first trophy since 1995? They’ll need to improve on this showing but at this stage, it’s anyone’s tournament.

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