Match Report Luton emerged from Goodison Park victorious for the second time this season as Cauley Woodrow grabbed a last-gasp winner that turfed turgid Everton out of the FA Cup. An unwanted replay at Kenilworth Road was looming as a poor contest between two limited sides dragged into stoppage time when the Blues failed to deal with a corner and the Hatters struck with almost the last kick of the game. Luton had gone ahead in controversial circumstances late in the first half when Ross Barkley appeared to push Dominic Calvert-Lewin as Alfie Doughty swung in a corner and Vitalii Mykolenko inadvertently headed into his own net. The hosts eventually hauled themselves back level when Jack Harrison profited from some fortune from Tim Krul who couldn’t keep his low drive out but their attempts to win it late on proved wholly inadequate and they paid the price at the death. If there were key takeaways from the first meeting between these two sides at the end of September, they were that Everton were highly susceptible to conceding from set-pieces against Rob Edwards’s side and that the combination of Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Beto up front in a 4-4-2 just didn’t work. So it was galling to see Sean Dyche retain that unproven and unconvincing partnership up front and for the Blues to concede from two corners. Worse was the continued deterioration in Everton’s approach play and effectiveness in the final third, where openings to create goalscoring chances were routinely spurned and when rare opportunities arrived, they were missed. Luton had started on the front foot and sent three efforts into the Gwladys Street End inside the first 5 minutes, Doughty missing the best chance when he skied James Tarkowski’s short clearance over after Mykolenko had been badly caught out by Andros Townsend down the visitors’ right flank. Everton found their feet, however, and came very close to taking the lead when Calvert-Lewin was played in down the left channel where he centred for Beto who, exhibiting a rare moment of composure, despatched a crisp side-foot shot an inch the wrong side of the upright from the edge of the box. Elijah Adebayo went almost as close for Luton at the other end after 23 minutes when Morris clipped a ball into the box and the big striker nodded past Joao Virginia but also narrowly wide of the far post. Mykolenko failed to test Krul when he was picked out in space with an excellent, quickly-taken free-kick by Tarkowski and Dwight McNeil headed a cross straight at the keeper but the best chance of the half fell to Beto. Onana’s shot from 25 yards was deflected heavily into the Portuguese striker’s path but, under pressure from a defender, he somehow failed to even hit the target lunging in on the loose ball. The Hatters went ahead 6 minutes before the end of the regulation 45, however, when Calvert-Lewin fell forward in his own box trying to meet a low delivery to the near post with Barkley’s hands on his back and the unsighted Mykolenko unwittingly headed into his own goal. A VAR check did not come to Everton's rescue and after James Garner swept a late direct free-kick over the crossbar, the Toffees had to go into the interval a goal down and with plenty to think about for the second half. Dyche opted not to make any changes at the break – in the end, he would wait until there were just 12 minutes left to make his two substitutions – and things might have got worse for him and his side 6 minutes after the restart but, although Morris rose easily above Beto in the box, Virginia made a good save to turn his header away. Everton were level 2 minutes later, however, when a counter-attack saw the ball arrive with Beto and he swept a pass out to the right wing for Harrison. The on-loan winger cut across Teden Mengi, drilled the ball goalwards and, though Krul looked as though he might save it, it squirmed under his body and rolled over the line. That should have been the catalyst the Blues needed to kick their performance up a few gears and really take the game to Luton but, instead, it was the Hatters who nearly scored again. First, an uncharacteristic slip by Jarrad Branthwaite gave Adebayo a two-on-one break with Townsend in support but, rather than play the obvious pass that would have given the ex-Everton winger a simple tap-in, he went for glory himself and Virginia tipped his effort around the post. Then, in the 63rd minute, they carved Everton’s defence open with ease and when Townsend sold Tarkowski with a turn back onto his left foot in the penalty area and squared it for Morris with the goal gaping, Nathan Patterson denied him by blocking his shot on the line. Harrison smashed well over the bar and Barkley had a wayward effort of his own that flew well over the crossbar at either end before Beto, played in by Patterson’s ball forward, out-muscled his man and engineered space for a shot but Reece Burke got in the way to block it behind for a corner. It was then that Dyche belatedly moved to switch things up, removing Calvert-Lewin and McNeil in favour of Youssef Chermiti and Arnaut Danjuma but a Beto shot that he blasted over as he slipped in the 81st minute and a blocked Harrison volley were as close as the Blues would come to winning it. Instead, it was Luton who seized the moment deep into stoppage time when Morris again won a barely-contested header that dropped to the back post, the ball pinged between Danjuma’s knee and the chest of Woodrow before the Hatters’ substitute prodded it home to send the Hatters through to the Fifth Round. In all honesty, with Everton’s small squad stretched thin by the absences of Abdoulaye Doucouré, Seamus Coleman, Idrissa Gueye and André Gomes and three Premier League games to come in the space of 11 days, Luton might have done them a favour by settling this tie without the need for a replay. There is no way that this Blues team playing like that would get anywhere near Wembley so it might be a blessing in disguise that Dyche and his staff can now concentrate on the Premier League where survival is paramount. On this evidence, though, the manager has a lot of work to do at Finch Farm in trying to get this team playing effective, winning football, something they have forgotten how to do since that impressive spell before Christmas. Certainly, nervy, haphazard, disjointed, kick-and-rush football isn't going to be enough. Lyndon Lloyd top Matchday Updates A pretty dreadful FA Cup tie with few redeeming moments saw Everton beaten by Luton right at the end of 5 minutes of added time when the visitors bundled home a corner to avoid a replay no-one wanted. With injuries biting deep into Sean Dyche's squad, the Blues are without Doucouré, Gomes, Coleman, Dele Alli, but the manager has finally decided to play Beto and Calvert-Lewin together up-front. For the visitors, Ross Barkley returns to Goodison Park with Andros Townsend also in the Hatters' starting line-up. Everton lined up attacking the Park-End with Luton kicking off, Beto soon pulling back Bell for an earl free-kick. Mykolenko was far too easily robbed and Doughty ended up lashing over. Barkley was next to have a pop from 30 yards. Then it was Morris hoofing it over, with Everton looking half-asleep! Everton looked to build but they lost the ball again. Tarkowski to the rescue but, when released, Beto could only manhandle his marker again. Everton came a bit closer to Luton's penalty area but Beto looked very leggy. Finally, Calvert-Lewin teed up Beto to shoot – inches wide. Branthwaite then picked out Calvert-Lewin with a nice forward ball but he was only marginally offside. Luton built well from the back but Virginia plucked the ball off his head. Everton then got forward with a lot more intent but Mykolenko's cross was just too high for Calvert-Lewin. Onana was scythed down by Burke but, because the Luton defender cleared the ball, it was not deemed a foul… although it certainly looked for all the world like a very bad tackle, Onana needing treatment and 30 s off the pitch as Patterson's shot attempt was woeful. Onana was then tripped by Lokonga, setting up a deep free-kick for Garner wide left that was far too easily cleared. The quality of play was really poor at times and the crowd were beginning to get restless. After more scrappy stuff, McNeil was kicked on the shin by Lokonga. But Luton quickly produced an attack, with Adebayo heading just wide. More Luton attacks were stalled by Branthwaite but Harrison could not release Calvert-Lewin, hitting the defender for the second time with his through-ball. The visitors won the first corner that was half-cleared but Everton were really struggling to play anything even approaching joined-up football and thankfully accepted a free-kick to clear upfield, where they struggled again. Beto was manhandled by Mengi, from inside the area, eventually getting a free kick after he went down outside the area, but Garner's effort was cleared again without reaching any of the big Everton players. Some rare quick-ball forward saw Beto fail to set up McNeil and the follow-up play failed to produce any threat. McNeil and Garner tried to one-two their way through the Luton defence but McNeil's return ball was overhit. The physical grappling was getting completely ridiculous but Everton's quick free-kick found Mykolenko on the overlap with a great chance to either cross or score but he messed it up with a poor in-between ball. Onana drove a shot forward that seemed to fall nicely for Beto with only the keeper to beat but somehow Mengi got a boot to it before the Everton man, the ball screwing wide. Mykloenkko swung in a cross that McNeil headed straight at Krul – the first shot on target. Luton won a corner from a deflected shot and it was Burkeon the end of it to head home at the near post, with Everton protesting that Barkley had pushed Calvert-Lewin, who ducked under the ball and sprawled forward after he felt the contact. A scrappy bundled goal, credited to Mykolenko, befitting of an equally scrappy game, and a massive task now for a highly dysfunctional Everton side. Everton tried to respond but Garner's effort at forward play was poorly overhit behind. Beto was fouled again by Lokonga as 4 minutes were added. Garner curled his effort just over but well covered by Krul, totally lacking in required guile. A very shoddy first-half performance was serenaded by a chorus of boos at the break. Really, it was shockingly poor football on show. The same line-up started the second half with little sign that the game would be much different, Luton getting an early corner that kept away from the Everton goal. But the Blues still struggled to get forward with any effect as the niggly fouls continued. Another corner was headed powerfully goalward by Morris and saved very well by Virginia. Everton then seemed to have no idea how to penetrate the massed Luton defence. But eventually, Harrison saw a gap and drove forward, his shot squirming beneath Krul and dribbling over the line. Er... Game on! But a rare slip by Branthwaite allowed Adebayo to run in on Virginia and try to curl it around him with Morris open for the passs, Virginia again covering his goal superbly to palm it behind. Harrison tried to feed the ball forward to Beto but he had no way around the confident defending of Mengi. Townsend then skipped through, drawing Virginia out and setting up Morris who could not get it past Paterson on the line. Adebayo got the better of Branthwaite again and won a very dangerous free-kick that Barkley overhit dreadfully, much to the amusement of the Goodison crowd. Luton then remarkably withdrew some of their best players. Everton won their first corner off a wayward backpass, a much better delivery from Garner, forcing a second corner, with Harrison unable to keep his shot down. At the other end, an equally wayward Barkley effort sailed over the Everton goal. Everton got forward and Beto finally seemed to have a clear shot only to hit a defender with his drive goalward. Luton got forward in numbers but Barkley's shot was charged down, Barkley finally going off with cramp. A better move saw a good first-time cross by McNeil but it was a bit behind Harrison who could only fire over. That was enough of the next-to-useless Calvert-Lewin and the insufficiently effective McNeil, a double change for the last 15 minutes seeing Danjuma and Chermiti replace them. Beto then had a half-chance bouncing away from him and he could only welly it high over the goal. Beto continued to be outgunned in the physical battle stakes at this level, and was hustled off the ball all too easily. Beto looked like he'd set up Harrison but his looping cross was headed tamely back across goal by Chermiti. A superb through-ball from Onana found Danjuma who carried the ball forward wanted a clear shot but it was easily blocked and the second phase didn't produce much, the third phase saw another Harrison volley blocked at close range. A deep Everton cross was challenged as it was going out, Chermiti and Burke getting their handbags entangled and both getting booked. The Everton corner was not good enough to create a chance, but Everton kept pushing forward, Mengi superbly dispossessing Chermiti as he was about to shoot. It was the most determined spell Everton had managed in terms of attacking play but the lack of quality was painfully obvious. Everton tired a little in the 5 added minutes, allowing Luton to come forward and claim a very late corner, bundled into the Everton net at the third attempt by Woodrow. Probably a blessed relief to be honest. Everton showed no capacity whatsoever to mount anything approaching a cup run, and really must now focus on their perilous situation in the Premier League. Everton: Virginia, Patterson, Tarkowski, Branthwaite, Mykolenko, Harrison, Onana, Garner, McNeil (78' Danjuma), Calvert-Lewin (78' Chermiti), Beto. Sub not Used: Pickford, Lonergan, Keane, Young, Godfrey, Hunt, Dobbin. Luton Town: Krul, Mengi, Burke, Bell, Doughty (75' Johnson), Barkley (75' Berry), Sambi Lokonga (66' Mpanzu), Ogbene, Townsend (66' Chong), Adebayo (66' Woodrow), Morris. Subs not Used: Shea, Potts, Kaminski, Nelson. Referee: Simon Hooper Attendance: 37,713 Michael Kenrick top Not the worst thing It’s interesting the path we all take to become Evertonians. My son, who is now 7, has always shown a placid interest in Everton, but has never really been incredibly interested. Over the last year or so he started playing for a football team, and I’d get frustrated as he would often lark around with one or two of the other lads, and not pay attention or get involved with the game, and wasn’t really improving like some of the other lads. I was actually wanting him to tell me “Daddy, I don’t want to play anymore,” so he could do something more of interest, and perhaps what he was more suited to doing. But when asked, he would reply the opposite. He really wanted to carry on. I’m no coach or expert but having watched football for a heck of a long time now, I was at least able to guide him on a few things that could benefit the team, and get him more involved. Hard work being one. He would never get the weekly Man of the Match award, though by putting in the hard yards, and at least running hard, making it difficult for the opposition and retaining possession, he became more involved in the team and has since won that coveted trophy a few times. Simultaneously, his interest in Everton has blossomed significantly, and whereas when there used to be an opportunity for him to come to the game, he would often decline, now he can’t wait to go. He’s forever asking questions. As many of you will understand, it’s a very proud thing seeing your children develop that interest in the team and the game we have grown to love, and I was very proud to take him to the game yesterday, and for the first time, have him recognise players and comment on their capabilities... or there lack of. “Why does Beto get into the box a lot but never shoot?” was one that made me chuckle, as he stood on his seat next to me in the Gwladys Street. Obviously it’s a shame he didn’t get to see a good Everton performance this time out. Luton Town certainly seem our bogey team this season, though I have optimism we’ll give them what we owe them at Kenilworth Road come May. While I applaud how well they work with what they’ve got, and have made an amazing effort at staying in the league with what they have at their disposal, their limited ability when up against established Premier League opposition is clear for all to see. And while we have been poor in both games we’ve played against them at Goodison Park this season, we very easily could have drawn or won both, and definitely shouldn’t have lost either. How we’ve managed to concede four goals against them, all from set-pieces, is criminal really and is certainly something to work on. But a few general observations from the game… Formation. Well, 4-4-2 doesn’t work. The players seem lost in shape and struggled to affect the game, particularly from the flanks. Though one player who I thought got clear benefit from the system was Dominic Calvert-Lewin. It’s another game without a goal for Dominic of course, though with more support in attack and more space to operate in, he was on the ball more and seemed to play with more freedom. We don’t have the luxury of giving him that extra body up there permanently of course, the rest of the midfield suffers way too much, and this only emphasises how crucial Abdoulaye Doucoure is to this team. Sods Law isn’t it that he neglected the opportunity to play at the African Cup of Nations… though then spends the time he would have spent there on the treatment table. Injuries. A big factor and with such a small squad and a manager who only seemingly trusts a certain number of them, it perhaps shouldn’t be a surprise that we have struggled without some important players. The absence of Abdoulaye Doucoure, Idrissa Gueye, Seamus Coleman, Ashley Young, and to a lesser extent purely because of long-term lack of availability – Dele Alli (even if just for six games) and Andre Gomes makes life difficult and options limited. Plus Dwight McNeil may still be struggling with what looked a very serious injury at the time. Our lack of squad depth compared to almost everyone else in the league is clear for all to see. Luck. Not that this was the biggest hard luck story of the season, there’s been a few more of them, though I can scarcely remember a game when every bounce of the ball seemed to drop in favour of the opposition – it even happened for their winning goal. Couple that with tough calls on a few decisions, and the game could have been a different story. Sometimes you can not be at your best, especially at home, but come away with this win. It’d be nice to do that once in a while. Luton Town’s first goal shouldn’t have stood. It was strange while it happened as everyone seemed to stop afterwards. Luton Town celebrated – and this may be because it was an own goal – sheepishly, and Everton appeared very confident that it would be overturned on review. Compare it with say, the goal we had taken off us at Tottenham Hotspur, and you can understand the frustration. Having now seen it back, I can’t quite fathom why it wasn’t overturned – it’s a clear two-handed push on Dominic which impacts his ability to clear the ball. Quite ridiculous actually. Factor in also, Dwight McNeil played in on goal but a flag going up for a non-offside (inconsistent calls are my biggest VAR frustratiion, by the way), and Beto pushed and held inside the box and not given a penalty, but then given a free kick once he steps out of the box, particularly as we still await a penalty this season, I couldn’t help but feel we could have done with a slice of luck here or there. Again, sometimes you're not at your best but you have enough. We don’t get a lot of that these days. Composure. It comes with confidence I guess. When you’re going well things go in, when you’re not, they don’t. Sean Dyche alluded to as much in his post-match comments. And it’s important to note that Luton Town had other chances too, but good first-half chances for Dwight McNeil, and second-half ones for Jack Harrison and Beto, did go begging. The fine margins in sports are so interesting I find, on another day, we’re leaving buoyant, the goals scored at the right time mask an average performance and everyone is buzzing. It’s all about being clinical with opportunities, I suppose, and if you have a limited squad, it’s more difficult to have that because the quality isn’t always there. It's not the worst thing. I wanted to go through to the Fifth Round, no doubt. Though in the final 10 minutes or so, with Luton Town having made five substitutions with their midweek game against Brighton their focus, they had given up. They were in the mindset of – well, we either lose, or we win it on the counter-attack. I don’t think they wanted the replay and nor did I. So while I would have welcomed a win on the day, I didn’t want a replay at Kenilworth Road a few days before we have to play Manchester City away. Our limited squad could do without that game. I’d rather have lost yesterday than have a replay. As sad as it is, let’s face it, winning the FA Cup would have been highly unlikely. Other than the Sky favourites, only Everton, Portsmouth, Wigan Athletic and Leicester City (and that during Covid) have won it once each since 1988. It’s become a near impossibility frankly. With the best will in the world, this season was unlikely to be our year. Getting the points to stay in the league has to be the priority. And as we slowly trudged off through the crowd, an older gentleman rubbed my son on his head and said “Never mind lad, you’ll see better days”. My son turned to me and said “Daddy. When you’re old, I will take you to the game when I’m playing for Everton.” Dream big, my boy. Player ratings Joao Virginia: He made a couple of good saves but surrendered possession often with poor kicking. Still, it’s been helpful to see Joao play a few games in the FA Cup, it’s good to know we have a reliable deputy should Jordan get an injury or suspension. 6 Vitalii Mykolenko: Not at his best. Began poorly with a mis-control that nearly allowed Luton Town in, and suffered an own goal of course, albeit one that should have been disallowed. 5 Jarrad Branthwaite: Also not at his best, hopefully just a rare blemish and he’s raring to go for important upcoming league games. 5 James Tarkowski: Was up for the challenge of Carlton Morris and distributed well. One ball out to Dwight McNeil for a first-half chance that was cleared just short of the line was brilliant. I don’t know how he conceded the corner for their winning goal, that should have been put into the Luton Town fans though I suppose he was trying to keep us going for the win. Overall, pretty average, I’d say. 6 Nathan Patterson: He had a relatively good game, though it was poor positioning with letting the ball go over his head from the throw-in in which led to their corner kick. A relatively minor complaint though as it still should have been dealt with. Overall, I thought he had an alright game. 6 Amadou Onana: He grew into the game and towards the end was really driving us forward. He, and James Garner, were asked to do a lot in a 4-4-2 and both didn’t do badly, though the system certainly highlighted how much more you get out of them both with an extra midfielder in there. 6 James Garner: I find that James really grows into games and his desire to win, especially in games in the balance, is clear to see. I love his tenacity and he showed more intent and ability than most to drag us over the line. A shame we couldn’t do it. 6 Dwight McNeil: Also suffered from not having another body in midfield, I think, and perhaps he’s still not quite fully fit either but he kept on going. Will rue his missed first-half opportunities. 5 Jack Harrison: Well, he scored, and you can’t fault his effort, but there was a high number of misplaced passes and he lost possession countless times. 5 Dominic Calvert-Lewin: He was very effective knitting together midfield and I think he enjoyed the freedom of having someone up there with him, even if it didn’t suit the midfield. We can’t get Abdoulaye Doucoure back to support him soon enough. My Man of the Match. 7 Beto: He did well with the goal set up, and his effort isn’t in question, though he does frustrate. He should have a crack at goal more when given half a yard I think. When he clumsily tries to take a player on in the penalty area, he gets a bit panicky, and the end result is seldom pretty. But we are where we are. If we can’t spend any money, this is what we’ll get, so we have to make do, and at least he puts the effort in. 6 Arnaut Danjuma: Couldn’t really affect the game and was a bit unlucky with their winning goal. 5 Youseff Chermiti: Not a bad cameo and he got on the end of a few things, though you can see he still has plenty of development ahead of him. I like how he stood up for himself amidst all the pushing and shoving. 6 Paul Traill top Match Preview Everton and Luton meet at Goodison Park for the second time this season, with the Toffees seeking to make amends for a dreadful second-half display in their Premier League defeat to the Hatters by progressing to the FA Cup Fifth Round. Luton's unexpected victory in L4 at the end of September was their first since returning to the top flight and it was an indication that they were not simply going to go back down to the Championship as favourites for relegation without a fight. Goals by Tom Lockyer and Carlton Morris stunned the Toffees that day and it sparked a run of eight wins from the next 11 games in all competitions by Sean Dyche's men in response. Since the win over Burnley in mid-December, however, Everton have won just once, that in the Third Round replay against Crystal Palace on 17th January and the manager will be hoping another victorious cup tie performance can provide a platform for three League games in quick succession between 30th January and 10th February He will have to do it with a squad that is less than full strength following the news that André Gomes has sustained another injury and is "very unlikely" to play on Saturday. The midfielder was the hero of the replay against Palace when he whipped a direct free-kick in off the post to score the only goal of the game and send Everton through but Dyche told the media at his press conference today that Gomes now has an injury, thought to be a recurrence of his troublesome calf issue. The Portuguese looks set to join Abdoulaye Doucouré and Seamus Coleman on the sidelines while Dele Alli, already a long-term absentee after suffering another set-back in his comeback last month, has undergone surgery on his groin. It had been thought Doucouré would be back for the replay but he isn't expected to be fit again until mid-February at the earliest after he injured the hamstring in the other leg from the one that kept him out of action over the Festive Period. With Idrissa Gueye away at the Africa Cup of Nations where Senegal have progressed to the next phase of the competition and Ashley Young not quite ready to return to first-team action, it leaves Dyche with a threadbare squad ahead of four matches in the space of 15 days. Nathan Patterson is the obvious candidate to start at right-back while one of Arnaut Danjuma or Lewis Dobbin is likely to take one of the spots out wide with Jack Harrison expected to play off Dominic Calvert-Lewin up top. Having kept two clean sheets and performed well in both games against Palace, Joao Virginia can be confident of continuing his "cup keeper" role by retaining the goalkeeper's spot. The Hatters could feature two former Everton players in their ranks, depending on how seriously manager Rob Edwards wants to take the tie. Ross Barkley and Andros Townsend have both been important players for Luton in their recent uptick in form that has brought them to within a point of the Blues in the Premier League table (albeit only because of the 10-point deduction that Everton will soon be fighting through an appeal) and both will need to be kept quiet by the home defence. Otherwise, it will be a case of seeing what Dyche and his players learned from the meeting in the League and how best to defeat a physical side who can deal with the aerial game but aren't quite as adept at defending attacks on the ground. Kick-off: 3pm, Saturday 27 January 2024Last Time: Everton 1 - 0 Luton Town (FA Cup QF replay, March 1986) Predicted Line-up: Virginia Pickford, Patterson, Tarkowski, Branthwaite, Mykolenko, Onana, Garner, McNeil, Danjuma, Harrison, Calvert-Lewin Lyndon Lloyd top * Unfortunately, we cannot control other sites' content policies and therefore cannot guarantee that links to external reports will remain active.