Salomón Rondón doubles up to send Everton past battling Boreham Wood | FA Cup

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The beaten team led the post-match celebrations and no one could begrudge Boreham Wood one last toast to this season’s FA Cup. “I’m proud but I’m just gutted we haven’t been able to give our fans a moment tonight,” said Luke Garrard, fresh from whipping up the away section with a series of fist-pumps reminiscent of the manager who resides on the other side of Stanley Park.

He had no cause for regret. Only one team can lose when Premier League meets non-league as Frank Lampard can testify. Everton produced a much-improved second-half display to secure a quarter-final date at Crystal Palace courtesy of Salomón Rondón’s second half double. The night, however, belonged to their opponents.

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The National League side fell short in their attempt to become only the second non-league club to reach the last eight but, as their reaction to the final whistle illustrated, with players embracing each other and taking selfies, that was an afterthought. Boreham Wood defended impressively throughout and, while they never troubled Asmir Begovic in the Everton goal, it needed the half-time introduction of Richarlison to finally disturb their gameplan.

Garrard said: “What this group of players, the town and the community have achieved is fantastic. They were colossal all evening. It is just a shame we weren’t able to trouble Asmir enough. The fact we have come to Everton and kept them to 0-0 in the first half is credit to the team. But they went up several gears in the second half. Anthony Gordon is frightening, such a talent.”

Everton have been a class act since drawing the non-league side, the Boreham Wood manager had said, with the Premier League club paying for their visitors’ specially commissioned fifth round kit, taking care of travel arrangements and sorting their accommodation. The same was true of Everton’s moving anti-war statement prior to kick-off too.

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Ukraine international Vitalii Mykolenko, the club’s January signing from Dynamo Kyiv, was named captain for the night by Lampard. He led out an Everton team draped in Ukraine flags, as were the players of Boreham Wood, and as the teams emerged onto the pitch the traditional pre-match strains of Z-Cars were replaced by John Lennon’s Imagine. Both sets of players gathered behind a blue and yellow banner carrying a hopeful, poignant line from the song. “Imagine all the people, Sharing all the world.”Outside, all MegaFon branding had been removed from the stadium following the suspension of Everton’s sponsorship deals with Russian companies backed by Alisher Usmanov, the oligarch close to the club’s majority shareholder, Farhad Moshiri, and who has been sanctioned by the EU and the UK.

The sombre opening gave way to a fiercely committed display from Boreham Wood and palpable frustration in the Everton ranks during the first half. The National League promotion chasers had started their FA Cup story with a 1-0 win at Barnet in the fourth qualifying round on 16 October. Eastleigh, St Albans City, AFC Wimbledon and Bournemouth had also fallen to Garrard’s team en route to a prestigious date at Goodison, where their manager looked genuinely taken aback by the surroundings before kick-off. Garrard took a good look around the entire stadium, opening his arms at the size of the Main Stand looming above him, and accepted well-wishes from Everton’s backroom staff and supporters during the warm-up. But he and his team were never overawed. Boreham Wood pressed immediately with a three-man forward line and caused several palpitations in the Gwladys Street end at Everton’s awkward attempts to escape.

Salomón Rondón heads in Andros Townsend’s cross to double Everton’s lead against Boreham Wood.
Salomón Rondón heads in Andros Townsend’s cross to double Everton’s lead against Boreham Wood. Photograph: Lindsey Parnaby/AFP/Getty Images

They were soon forced into a deep block, with a five-man defence protected by three in central midfield, and managed to contain their Premier League hosts with some comfort.

Lampard had seen enough aimless crosses and paid the non-league side the compliment of introducing Richarlison for the second half. “We needed another player to get behind their midfield line,” he explained

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Rondón squandered an excellent chance when Jonjoe Kenny, switched to right-back following Nathan Patterson’s substitution and Lampard’s move to a 4-4-2, swept an inviting cross over Connor Stevens early in the second half. Rondón, arriving in behind, headed dreadfully over from six yards out.

The Venezuela striker atoned minutes later, however, following more good work by Kenny. Receiving Allan’s pass in space, the full-back steered a first-time cross towards the near post where Rondón held off David Stephens to sweep a finish beyond Taye Ashby-Hammond. Richarlison had a goal disallowed for handball by VAR after Adrian Clifton headed Gordon’s cross into the Brazilian’s face, the ball then touching his arm before crossing the line, but Rondón brought Everton the comfort of a second late on. Andros Townsend collected Gordon’s short corner and floated a cross to the far post where the centre-forward powered a header beyond Ashby-Hammond, the ball crossing the line before the keeper clawed it away.

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