Non-league Boreham Wood’s FA Cup dream was ended by two goals from Salomon Rondon as the Everton striker secured his side a second successive FA Cup quarter-final spot with a labored 2-0 win at Goodison Park.
The first goals conceded by the Vanarama National League side – 77 places below their top-flight hosts – in this season’s competition were enough to be their downfall with the visiting defense eventually breached by the Venezuelan’s near-post finish in the 57th minute.
A powerful header which Taye Ashby-Hammond, who also made one good, low save from substitute Richarlison, could not prevent from crossing the line guaranteed progress six minutes from time.
Although Richarlison also had a goal ruled out for handball by VAR the Boreham Wood goalkeeper had an easier night that he would have anticipated.
Rondon’s rare double, taking his tally to three in 17 appearances since arriving as one of three summer signings in Rafael Benitez’s ill-fated and short-lived reign, set up a last-eight tie away to Crystal Palace.
Everton had funded a special one-off kit for Boreham Wood, who named the same side which knocked out Bournemouth, to avoid a clash and also paid for the visitors’ travel and overnight stay.
But that generosity was extended to the pitch with a dreadful first half, watched for the first time by Everton’s new director of football Kevin Thelwell.
Ukraine international Vitalii Mykolenko was made Everton captain for the night and there was a poignant pre-match show of solidarity with his homeland as players and officials held a banner reading ‘Imagine all the people, sharing all the world’ – a line from John Lennon’s Imagine which was played over the ground’s public address system.
Everton’s left-back was the first to test Ashby-Hammond but the next challenge did not come until the 36th minute when Anthony Gordon whipped in a low, angled shot which bounced awkwardly in front of the goalkeeper who successfully clawed it away.
The awfulness of the first 45 minutes persuaded manager Frank Lampard to make a half-time change and it was the unfortunate Nathan Patterson, making his debut nearly two months after signing from Rangers, who had to make way for Richarlison.
Mykolenko was first to show again but his driven cross was missed by Rondon, who should then have buried Jonjoe Kenny’s cross but headed over.
Jarrad Branthwaite, one of six changes made from last weekend’s defeat to Manchester City, was spared embarrassment when he passed straight to Tyrone Marsh and was relieved to see the Boreham Wood forward drive a shot just over goalkeeper Asmir Begovic.
The growing frustration subsided when Rondon made amends for his earlier failures with a neatly-taken goal after nipping in front of centre-back David Stephens to convert another Kenny cross.
For the second successive home match Everton were on the end of another controversial VAR handball decision, this time denying them a goal, when Richarlison’s close-range effort was chalked off after Adrian Clifton’s attempted clearance hit the Brazil international.
But Rondon ensured there was no late drama with a header which was adjudged to have crossed the line before Ashby-Hammond pulled it back.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.