National League side Boreham Wood will seek to pull off another giant-killing when they face Premier League stalwarts, Everton, in the FA Cup fifth round.
The magic of the FA Cup will be on display when fifth division Boreham Wood make the trip to Goodison Park to face Frank Lampard’s Everton for the fifth round tie on Thursday night.
Everton have blown hot and cold since the arrival of Frank Lampard, having lost three of the five games under the tutelage of the former Chelsea manager. The Merseysiders enter this contest on the back of consecutive Premier League defeats against Southampton and Manchester City, which has left them in a precarious 17th place in the table. only one point above the drop zone.
However, their spirited and energetic performance against the Premier League leaders deserved a point at least, as they were controversially denied a handball penalty late on. Everton began their FA Cup campaign earlier this season with a narrow 3-2 extra-time victory over League One club Hull City before making light work of fellow Premier League side Brentford 4-1 at Goodison Park in the next round.
The Toffees are five-time winners of the FA Cup but last lifted the trophy back in the 1994/95 season. They will be looking to give the home crowd something to cheer about with a decent cup run in what should be a comfortable path into the quarter-finals.
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On the other hand, Boreham Wood will want to leave their mark on non-league history. They became only the tenth team from outside of the Football League to reach the fifth round since 1945 by sending Scott Parker’s high-flying Bournemouth packing, securing a monumental 1-0 win over the Championship outfit.
Boreham Wood are currently sitting third in the fifth tier and, with multiple games in hand on teams above them, are favourites for promotion into League Two. They have only lost two of their last 22 games in all competitions but are on a three-game winless streak on the road.
The visitors are the lowest-ranked team left in the competition. Should they somehow pull out another shock here, they will become only the second non-league club in history to reach the FA Cup quarter-finals, following the lead of Lincoln City’s incredible 2016/17 FA Cup run.
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Everton’s winter arrivals Donny van de Beek, Dele Alli and Anwar El Ghazi are all cup-tied and ineligible to feature in Thursday’s contest. Abdoulaye Doucoure and Demarai Gray marked their returns from injury at the weekend, but Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s adductor injury means he joins Tom Davies, Yerry Mina, Ben Godfrey and Fabian Delph on the sidelines.
Frank Lampard looks set to line his side up in a 4-4-2 formation and is expected to shuffle his pack for the visit of non-league side Boreham Wood, with youngsters Jarrad Branthwaite, Nathan Patterson and Vitaliy Mykolenko the likely beneficiaries.
Second-choice goalie Asmir Begovic will operate between the sticks for the Toffees. The Bosnian shot-stopper will be the last line of defence behind the quartet of Patterson, Mason Holgate, Branthwaite and Mykolenko. The full-backs will have the license to maraud forward to offer width and attacking support with overlaps and underlaps.
With Allan likely to be handed a breather for this game, Andre Gomes will have to step up and partner Abdoulaye Doucoure in the midfield double-pivot. Meanwhile, Andros Townsend could return to the starting lineup on the right flank and will be responsible to provide the forward line with adequate service. Alex Iwobi should offer directness and pace down the left side.
Salomon Rondon will spearhead the Toffees’ attack up front alongside Richarlison. In theory, the front-duo should complement each other, with Rondon being a physical nuisance and the latter adept at running in behind defences.
Probable lineup (4-4-2): Begovic; Patterson, Holgate, Branthwaite, Mykolenko; Townsend, Doucore, Gomes, Iwobi; Rondon, Richarlison
Defender Jamal Fyfield is a big doubt for the game due to a hamstring injury. Club’s No. 1 goalkeeper Nathan Ashmore has returned to the squad after a long layoff, while the Wood are sweating over the fitness of right-back Kane Smith and captain Mark Ricketts. Wood’s boss Luke Garrard is hopeful the duo will shake off the injuries in time for their historic tie against Everton.
Garrard has done a fantastic job at Boreham Wood and has made them incredibly tough to break down this season. Yet to concede a goal in this year’s FA Cup, it comes to no surprise that they have the league-best defence, having shipped only 17 goals after 27 National League games.
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— Boreham Wood FC (@BOREHAM_WOODFC) March 1, 2022
The manager is likely to go with a defensive 3-5-2 system and is expected to deploy a similar side to the one that knocked Championship side Bournemouth out of the FA Cup at the start of February. Taye Ashby-Hammond looks set to start in goal behind a three-man defensive unit of Connor Stevens, Will Evans, David Stephens.
The width in attack will come from the wing-back duo of Jacob Mendy and Smith, with the latter especially posing a threat with late runs. Frankie Raymond will anchor the midfield from the holding role, with support from Ricketts and Josh Rees. The latter is a capable midfield goal-scorer and has scored ten times this season.
Former Newcastle United striker Nile Ranger joined Boreham Wood in December but has yet to string together a run of games under his belt. So, a strike-partnership of Tyrone Marsh and Scott Boden is expected to lead the line for Wood. The duo will have to carry most of the goal-scoring workload in the attacking third as they boast a combined 17 goals between them.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Ashby-Hammond; Evans, Stephens, Stevens; Smith, Rees, Raymond, Ricketts, Mendy; Marsh, Boden
- This game will be Boreham Wood’s first-ever competitive game against top-flight opposition.
- Only one of the last seven non-league sides to play a top-flight opponent in the FA Cup fifth round have progressed.
- Boreham Wood have won all of their four FA Cup matches in normal time and boast an aggregate scoreline of 9-0.
- Luke Garrard’s men have progressed through the four FA Cup rounds this season preserving a clean sheet in each of them, becoming the first non-league side to do so in the process.
- Everton have advanced to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup on 11 of the past 13 times they have reached the fifth round of the competition, including the last five.
Player to Watch
With Frank Lampard probably going to rest and rotate, one player who is expected to start is Andros Townsend. The former Crystal Palace winger has fallen down the pecking order under Lampard and has largely underperformed despite making a bright start to his Everton career.
He has two goals in the FA Cup this season and could play his part here yet again with his quality from set-piece and crossing situations, which could make him a big asset for the Toffees against the deep block of Boreham Wood.
Everton 2-0 Boreham Wood
Even with Everton hardly pulling up any trees since Frank Lampard’s arrival and Boreham Wood’s unblemished defensive record in the FA Cup, it is hard to see another scalp for the visitors at Goodison Park. Of course, it goes without saying that the Wood have nothing to lose and a whole lot to gain.
They have been a tough nut to crack not only in the cup, but they also boast National League’s best defensive record. That said, an inspired Everton side, who will be eager to bounce back to winning ways, should have enough quality and firepower to get the job done against fifth-tier side Boreham Wood. The Hard Tackle predicts Lampard’s men to come out on top this midweek with a comfortable 2-0 victory.