Ademola Lookman helps Everton limp past League Two Lincoln City

The gap between League 2 and the Premier League had been ruthlessly exposed on Friday evening as Tranmere succumbed to Tottenham by the small matter of seven goals.

Here, just across the Mersey at Goodison Park, a similar clash in levels, though this time it was the underdogs who travelled, along with more than 5,500 expectant fans.

The stewardship of manager Danny Cowley and his assistant, brother Nicky, have delivered some scarcely believable days for the Lincoln faithful.

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Promotion back to the Football League in 2017 was achieved alongside an incredible run to the quarter finals of the FA Cup which included a defeat of Premier League Burnley along the way.

Could lightning strike twice? The man who said it couldn’t wasn’t from Lincoln, suggested the impressive Cowley in the days leading up to the game.


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The early signs weren’t brilliant for the visitors however, Ademola Lookman – one of five changes made by Everton manager Marco Silva – cutting in from his wing to fire a powerful effort just over.

Cowley had spoken of how his team would have to “climb a mountain” to obtain a positive result but would try to do so by managing the game in six 15 minute blocks.

Unfortunately for him, his side were two down by the time the first such block was over.

Lookman, 21, was the man who eased nerves on 12 minutes with his first of the season, a  fine leap meeting Baines’ quality cross for a header which dropped over Josh Vickers.

Three minutes later and the contest appeared effectively sealed as another recalled starter, Brazilain Bernard, finished a fine move involving Gylfi Sigurdsson and Dominic Calvert-Lewin with a fine dink over the advancing Vickers, his first Everton goal.

Suddenly that mountain looked three times as high and the game was about fun rather than any sense of fear for the Evertonians on the pitch and in the stands.

Lookman switched wings and flashed a superb effort just wide, while Calvert-Lewin was denied by Vickers when clean through.

Lincoln play to their own scripts though and they weren’t prepared to accept this one.

Just before the half hour mark the tie was alive again.

Cowley had asked top scorer John Akinde to play on his own up front and he was clever enough to draw a foul from Yerry Mina.

Northern Irish international Michael O’Connor swung in a superb ball from the left and while Jordan Pickford produced a fine save to deny Jason Shakell’s header, Michael Bostwick was on hand to turn home the rebound.

Suddenly it was Lincoln dominating the next 10 minutes, winning set plays which were proving uncomfortable for the home side.

Everton will have been just as happy to hear the half time whistle as the underdogs, despite 73% possession, and Marco Silva introduced Cenk Tosun and Andre Gomes at the break just to confirm that impression.

The changes didn’t bear immediate fruit, through Sigurdsson struck a superb volley from long range which Vickers turned away with a wonderful leap to his left.

Twice substitute Gomes found good positions but his shots were first blocked and then just wide. An hour in the gap remained just one.

Baines fell in the box but referee John Brooks pointed only to the corner flag.

Lincoln just couldn’t get enough of the ball to move up the pitch and get within sight of Pickford’s goal.

With 10 minutes left a set-piece offered that opportunity and Shakell rose once again to meet a corner. Breath was held around the ground but substitute Richarlison was in the right place to head away from under his own bar.

The Brazilian fired wide at the other end while Tosun’s weak effort was claimed down low by Vickers.

Everton never did find a third but two was enough as they took their place in the fourth round for the first time in three years.

Lincoln couldn’t quite deliver the FA heroics of 2017 once again but their chairman Clive Nates – an Everton supporter for more than 50 years – could travel home very proud of his team.

His side richly deserved the warm applause afforded them by both sets of fans as they left the pitch.

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