Everton eased into the fifth round, though the loss of Bryan Oviedo to a serious injury took the shine off a clinical win
And that's it! That became a romp for Everton in the second half, but they were tested at the back by Stevenage, who should really have taken an early lead, but turned down the chance. Everton made no mistake in punishing them, and their name goes into the FA's wizened leather pouch for the fifth round. A Merseyside derby awaits them in the league on Tuesday ... and then perhaps the FA Cup?
90 min +2: The second of three added minutes sees Akins hoicking miles over the bar after latching onto a poor headed clearance from Stones.
90 min: Another example of Everton's occasional largesse at the back, which isn't reflected in the scoreline, but still. Charles romps down the inside right and shoots low from a tight angle. The shot squirms under the body of Robles. Hibbert and Heitinga somehow combine to hook the ball away, utilising some pinball techniques. How did that stay out?!
89 min: The Merseyside derby on Tuesday should be a decent spectacle again, if today's matches here and at Bournemouth are anything to go by. Two teams who look excellent going forward, but aren't exactly the finished article at the back. Another 3-3 draw? Yes please!
88 min: Not a single shock today, then, unless you count cup holders Wigan, of the Championship, knocking out Crystal Palace. And who'll be doing that?
86 min: Deacon comes on for Zoko.
Osman hangs around, 25 yards from goal, in order to tease a few defenders out. He's successful, and then slips a pass down the inside-right channel for Gueye, who takes a touch inside, falls over, but swings a leg at the ball anyway to send it into the bottom right corner. Not very pretty, but look at that scoreline!
83 min: Naismith is sent clear down the middle by a sliderule pass from Barry. He can't quite get the ball out from under his feet, though, and fails to get a shot away. Not for the first time in this second half, he's close to that hat-trick and yet so far away.
81 min: Gueye comes on for Mirallas, while Andrade replaces Morais.
80 min: Someone should probably nip down to the nearest petrol station and buy a couple of spares.
78 min: They've only got three balls left, apparently! Has anybody got the keys to the club shop?
77 min: Another two balls depart the ground within the space of 30 seconds. How many footballs do Stevenage have in their kitbag?
74 min: Zoko is nearly released down the inside left, but he's flagged offside. He's not giving up, though, and soon after wins a corner with a determined bustle down the same wing. The corner's fizzed in low. McCarthy swings a leg to clear, but only succeeds in slicing it backwards towards the bottom-left corner. Robles spares his midfielder's blushes by turning the ball out for another corner. McCarthy then does what he should have done first time round, whacking that one clear.
72 min: Parrett replaces Jones.
70 min: A ball whipped into the Everton area from the left. Zoko chests down magnificently, but can't connect with the dropping ball properly. He's 12 yards out with only Robles to beat, but shins a poor effort wide right. The ball rolls round the frame, behind the net, and for a second the crowd wonder whether it's gone in. But no consolation for Stevenage. They deserve something, if only for their excellent early display.
68 min: Everton are giving it the full Swansea at the moment, stroking it this way and that. Stevenage can't get the ball at all. It's an aesthete's treat. Eventually the home side get fed up and Mirallas is clattered. Baines belts a free kick into the car park behind the stand. Have Everton posted a man out there, with a view to making off with some free training equipment?
65 min: Freeman embarks on a baroque ramble down the left. His looping cross is punched clear by Robles. Everton go up the other end, and Mirallas shoots from distance and into the car park behind the stand.
63 min: Naismith is sent free down the inside-right channel by Osman. He lobs Day, but it'll not be his hat-trick goal, because the whistle's gone for offside. Instead, he's booked, which rather adds insult to injury as he looked onside from the replay.
62 min: A lot of time to kill here. A sense that everyone involved would just like to go home now.
61 min: Smith is booked for a late hack at the ankles of Mirallas.
60 min: Heitinga, in the middle of his own half, slices hilariously towards the corner flag down the Stevenage right. Zoko and Akins attempt to make something of the territorial gift, but it's just not happening for them. Broadhall Way was bouncing earlier, but it's only the Everton travellers who can be heard now. It's a pretty quiet ground.
58 min: Everton have slipped up so often in recent seasons against lower-division opposition, or in other matches they started as favourites. This is a new Everton all right.
Mirallas cuts in from the left and forces Day into a splendid save, his shot aimed towards the top right and tipped round the post. The resulting corner, from the right, is sent deep. Mirallas chips up and attempts to bicycle kick into the same top-right corner. The spectacularly ambitious effort is going wide, but it flies towards Heitinga, six yards out, level with the right-hand post. Heitinga heads goalwards, the ball taking a slight deflection off Charles past Day and into the right-hand side of the net. Game over.
53 min: A double save from Robles. Zoko looks to get his head on a right-wing cross; the keeper punches clear. Then Akins belts the loose ball goalwards; it's straight down the keeper's throat. Stevenage are doing what they can, but their earlier pizzazz isn't there.
51 min: This half has been one long lull so far. Freeman attempts to up Stevenage's pace with a dribble down the left. Hibbert is backtracking in panic, but Freeman lets him off the hook with a wild swing of the leg, his shot from the edge of the area wanging miles left of the target.
49 min: If they want to worry Everton any, Stevenage will surely need to score quickly. They pump a couple of balls down the wings, but can't apply any real pressure. It's all a bit scrappy so far, but with Stevenage going nowhere, this will suit Everton as much as it does the home side.
47 min: So there you go, Jagielka was "feeling his hamstring" and has been accordingly wrapped in cotton wool and bubble wrap.
And we're off again! It's no longer raining, but it's very blustery. A second change for Everton, Jagielka making way for Heitinga. No idea whether that's an injury, or tactical. Chances are, the Everton captain is nursing a tweak, and with his side 2-0 up, is being rested with the Merseyside derby coming on Tuesday.
HALF-TIME ADVERTISEMENT: Everton fans aren't going to like Jonathan Wilson's new book, The Anatomy of Liverpool, much. But they'll know someone who does, right?
And that's your lot for the half. Everton have been very clinical, picking off Stevenage twice, and already have a foot in the fifth round. Stevenage had their chances, though. Of course the terrible injury to Bryan Oviedo has cast a pall over the match. Another 45 minutes to come; don't go flipping.
45 min +4: Everton are passing it around a lot, without going anywhere fast.
45 min +2: Osman dances down the left and, upon reaching the byline, fires a ball across the face of the Stevenage goal. Charles sticks out a leg to hook away. That's a fine defensive clearance, with many a blue shirt lurking.
45 min +1: There will be six minutes of injury time, a result of the Oviedo incident.
45 min: Freeman jinks and jives down the inside left, but upon reaching the edge of the area loses his mind, and blooters a hellish shot miles wide right and high. Stevenage have looked decent going forward on occasion, but as the game's progressed, they've shed most of their earlier self-belief.
44 min: Naismith is nearly released again, straight down the middle, but Jones just about holds him off. A lot of space in the middle of the park for Everton.
43 min: McCarthy batters his nose into the back of Heslop's head, as the two go up for a ball near the centre circle. He requires a little squeeze of the old-fashioned magic sponge.
41 min: McCarthy slips the ball wide right to Mirallas, who shuttles it on to McGeady. The winger can't beat his man this time, but Everton are playing some very fluid stuff down that flank. The atmosphere is pretty flat now, like Everton care. They're all over this.
38 min: Not for the first time, Hartley brings down McGeady in the agricultural style. His name is popped in the referee's book, and no wonder. Everton waste the free kick, but soon enough McGeady's trying to float a chip over Day and into the top right from the left of the D. He doesn't get enough on the effort, which is easily claimed by the keeper. Everton are in total control of this now.
36 min: Zoko earns Stevenage a corner down the left, but shoulders are collectively slumped, and they don't cause the bedlam they were causing before the second goal. Everton deal with it with minimum fuss.
34 min: Everton, having weathered a minor storm before doubling their lead, suddenly look the serious proposition they usually are these days. Baines rakes a diagonal pass towards Naismith from tight on the left touchline, and so nearly releases the striker. Jones does enough to put Naismith off. A quick third goal will settle this tie before half time.
Out of nothing, a second goal for Everton! Osman flicks a clever pass down the inside left. Ashton should deal with it, but he miskicks, allowing Naismith to nip away with the ball and slide it under the advancing Day. Do Stevenage deserve to be two down? Probably not, but Everton have been extremely clinical on the break, and this is where we are.
31 min: The injury to Oviedo has, unsurprisingly, dampened the mood a little. Nothing much is happening right now.
28 min: News on poor Oviedo's injury. He's gone straight to hospital. It's a serious, long-term injury, a double fracture. God speed, young Bryan, on the road to recovery.
25 min: Stevenage look pretty lively up front. Freeman dances down the inside left, and is scythed down from behind by Barry, who really should be booked. This will be another free kick in a dangerous spot. And Morais loops one towards the top-left corner. It's going in, but Robles claws it out. Charles tries to backheel the rebound into the danger zone from a tight angle. That'll be a corner, from which Everton again look all at sea, the ball worked out to the right, Charles then getting on the end of a long ball only to guide it softly back to Robles.
23 min: Everton deal with the corner with ease, and flood upfield. Whereupon Osman nearly scores with his second touch of the ball but, standing close to the left-hand post, volleys McGeady's deep cross from the right hopelessly into the stand.
22 min: And it's a brilliant free kick, a training-ground move which so nearly leads to an equaliser! The ball's tapped to the right, then quickly to the left, allowing Freeman to whistle a low shot towards the bottom right. Robles tips round for a corner.
21 min: There's a long break in play, as both physios carefully load Oviedo onto a stretcher. Osman will come on in his wake. Play will restart with a Stevenage free kick, 25 yards out.
18 min: Uh-oh. Poor Oviedo has gone down on the greasy turf, while tracking back to make a defensive challenge on Heslop. This looks like a serious injury - a leg break perhaps, though BT Sport aren't showing the challenge again on the grounds of taste - with all the players immediately screaming for a stretcher, and medical assistance. A lot of grim faces.
17 min: Both sets of fans are giving it plenty, with Stevenage's support refusing to pipe down, despite that early setback. Old-school FA Cup atmosphere right here! McGeady looks to be inspired by it, and jinks to the byline down the right. His clipped cross is headed powerfully clear by Charles.
15 min: McGeady drops a shoulder to nip inside Hartley down the right, and is upended for his trouble. Free kick in a very dangerous position, to the right of the Stevenage box. But the ball doesn't beat the first man. No matter, Everton are coming back at the hosts soon enough, with Oviedo slide-ruling a pass down the left channel, and so nearly releasing Naismith into the area. Day comes out to smother.
13 min: The visitors calm things down a bit by passing it hither and yon along the back line. Clever Everton. They knock it around in a very pretty manner. No wonder they're dreaming of their first trophy in 19 years.
10 min: Everton don't look particularly comfortable when the ball's pumped into their half, it has to be said. Stones, Baines and Barry make an 11-course tasting menu of dealing with a long loop down the Stevenage right. Eventually Robles hacks into touch, and soon there's more joy for Morais down the right, and Hibbert does well to dive at full length to head clear with Smith on his shoulder. It's been a bright and exciting start to this game. Everton will be happy, of course, but perhaps not 100 percent content.
7 min: Some start, huh? Roberto Martinez's campaign to become the first manager to win consecutive FA Cups with different clubs is on!
How costly that Akins miss? Everton zip up the other end. Mirallas, in space down the inside right, hammers a low shot goalwards. It's parried well by Day, but the ball squirts out right to McGeady, who fires a low cross into the centre, where Naismith adjusts his feet quickly and whips the ball into the net. That's what Akins should have done. That's the difference between League One and the Premier League.
4 min: Freeman goes on a power jog down the left touchline. His cross is too deep, but Stevenage are soon coming back at Everton, and really should take the lead. The ball's whipped in from the right, and Stones, who has started very delicately, nearly chest the ball past his own keeper. Robles should hold, but spills the ball as he falls to the ground, under pressure from Zoko. It falls to Akins, who should sidefoot home, but hammers the ball straight at the unwitting Stones. What a chance spurned!
2 min: Stones faffs around down the Stevenage right, allowing Morais to tear clear down the wing. He's in space and into the area, but Barry comes across to block. Corner, which doesn't get past the first man. A decent start by the underdogs, mind you.
And we're off! Everton set the ball rolling, sort of, on a pitch that's heavy and damp. It's raining. Broadhall Way is bouncing. Zoko races after a long ball down the right, but can't control.
The teams are out! Stevenage are doing their white-and-red thing, while Everton are in their trademark blue, as they should be, no need for changing needlessly into ludicrous away kits. No huge shocks in this fourth round so far, though Watford tried their level best by going two goals up at Manchester City before being turned over in the second half. Can Stevenage add to the FA Cup legend? Everton have rested a few big names - Romelu Lukaku is only on the bench - but they're still able to call on the Irish Ronaldinho, Aiden McGeady, who makes his first start for his new club. Stevenage's line-up meanwhile includes Jimmy Smith and Filipe Morais, both formerly of Chelsea, the pair having clocked up one league appearance for the Stamford Bridge giants between them. As for the atmosphere, is it, as Stevenage manager Graham Westley promised, "bizarre" and "bewildering"? I have no idea what he meant by that, so I can't tell you. It's very loud. Does that count?
Stevenage: Day, Ashton, Jones, Morais, Charles, Akins, Zoko, Heslop, Freeman, Smith, Hartley.
Subs: Smith, Wedgbury, Burrow, Parrett, Tounkara, Andrade, Deacon.
Everton: Robles, Hibbert, Baines, Jagielka, McGeady, Oviedo, Mirallas, Naismith, McCarthy, Barry, Stones.
Subs: Howard, Heitinga, Lukaku, Gueye, Osman, Vellios, McAleny.
Referee: Anthony Taylor (Cheshire)
With Stevenage currently rooted to the bottom of the Third Division, and Everton chasing a place in next year's European Champion Clubs' Cup, you wouldn't put too much money on a shock occurring at Broadhall Way this evening. Nope. Until you remember that Stevenage gave Roberto Martinez's side a good run for their money in this year's League Cup at Goodison Park, Luke Freeman giving the visitors a 36th-minute lead, Gerard Deulofeu equalising to force extra time, and the minnows hanging on until the 25th minute of extra time, when Marouane Fellaini broke their hearts.
(Whatever happened to Marouane Fellaini? We'd love to know.)
Everton should have more than enough to make it to the fifth round, of course. Thanks to some judicious purchases and loan signings, their squad is deep enough to withstand injuries to Seamus Coleman, Ross Barkley and the aforementioned Deulofeu. And while they'll have half a mind on Tuesday's Merseyside derby, this is a robust team now: they've only lost three games all season. This is very unlikely to become a fourth.
But you never know. Newcastle United felt the force of Stevenage's rugged brilliance back in 1997, Giuliano Grazioli and all that. And Stevenage were a non-league outfit at the time, while Newcastle had recently broken the world-record transfer fee for Alan Shearer. Meanwhile Everton's record against lower-league opposition in the cup in the last few years hasn't been the greatest, with losses to Reading, Oldham Athletic, Shrewsbury Town and Tranmere Rovers since the turn of the millennium. So yes, you never know. You sort of know, but you never know. Either way: it's on!
Kick off: 5.30pm