By Paul Conatzer
For the first 20 or so minutes, Everton looked like they were going to book their passage in the fourth round of the FA Cup with ease.
Ademola Lookman got a start and he looked to prove Everton manager’s Marco Silva’s decision was the right one from almost the start as he whistled a shot just over the bar in the first minute. The 5-foot-9 Lookman followed up by putting Everton in front by nodding home a cross from Leighton Baines, who proved he still has plenty to offer with a number of good crosses that as per-usual Everton failed to convert. Lookman, who scored his first goal of the season, opened the scoring in the 12th minute. It was his first Everton goal for more than a year.
Two minutes later, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Dominic Calvert-Lewin combine to set Bernard free in the penalty area and the diminutive Brazilian winger calmly lifted the ball over Imps’ ‘keeper Josh Vickers and it looked like the rout was on. Lookman and Calvert-Lewin went close as Everton pushed to put the game completely out of reach.
However, Everton, who have been inconsistent for most of the season, reverted to that pattern and once again, trouble defending set pieces let the League Two leaders back in.
After Yerry Mina fouled John Akinde out on the left wing, zonal marking let Everton down again. Jordan Pickford, who didn’t make any mistakes this week, saved a close range header from Jason Shackell, who got to Michael O’Connor’s cross first. However, despite a penalty box full of Everton players, Michael Bostwick was able to get to the ball first and bundled it home to make it 2-1 at the 28th minute mark of the match.
Everton’s manager played a strong squad as he only rested Lucas Digne, Richarlison and Andres Gomes. A flurry of Lincoln corner following their goal probably forced Silva into making changes to start the second half. Gomes and Cenk Tosun came on for Tom Davies and Calvert-Lewin.
Gomes, Sigurdsson and Tosun all came close for Everton as did Richarlison, who came on in the 80th minute for Sigurdsson. However, the slim lead continued to make Everton and its fans shaky. Richarlison didn’t score, but he did contribute with a headed clearance off the line as Lincoln pressed forward.
The statistics failed to tell the story of the match as Everton dominated in most categories. Having 75 percent of the possession and outshooting Lincoln, 18-8. However, despite the big edge in possession, it often seemed that Everton would prefer to go sideways for periods of the match. Sigurdsson seemed flat and out of touch for much of the match.
The game ended as Lincoln took its sixth corner of the match.
In the end, Everton are through to the FA Cup’s fourth round for the first time in three years, but the problems remain. With many Everton fans clamouring for a goal-scorer to be bought in during the January transfer window.
Man of the match: Leighton Baines (Everton). Despite a long absence from the side, he buzzed up and down the wing and with better finishing, he could have had a handful of assists.