EVERTON 2 (Deulofeu 45, Fellaini 115) – STEVENAGE BOROUGH 1 (Freeman 36) (aet; ft 1-1)
In the end Roberto Martinez had to summon Marouane Fellaini from the bench to kill off a stubborn, hardworking, Stevenage. The big Belgian came on as a 96th-minute substitute and capitalised on some slack defending to knock the League One side out of the Capital One Cup and set up a trip to Craven Cottage in the next round.
Earlier Goodison was shocked when, totally against the run of play, Luke Freeman had put the visitors ahead, but the Blues got back into the game with the last kick of the first half, thanks to a virtuoso effort from Gerard Deulofeu, the game’s outstanding performer.
All the talk around the ground concerned the futures of Fellaini and Leighton Baines. Roberto Martinez rubbished suggestions that Baines has asked to leave but refused to comment on whether Everton have received a renewed offer from Old Trafford of £38million for the pair. Martinez commented: “I’m not going to entertain speculation; we are still looking to get one or two bodies in. The two players have been true professionals; they are dedicated and working hard. I will be glad when the window is no longer open. There is nothing new to tell our fans. We are not going to feed speculation.”
Martinez gave four players their first competitive Everton starts – defenders John Stones and Bryan Oviedo, attackers Gerard Deulofeu and Arouna Kone. The Ivorian, who has failed to score since his £5.5million move from Wigan, had a great opportunity to open his account in the 12th minute but, somehow, managed to miss from about two yards after he was picked out by Deulofeu.
It was however the 19-year-old product of Barcelona’s La Masia Academy, who rescued Everton late in the first half with a superb equaliser, bending in a left-footed drive. Awful defending nine minutes earlier had seen Everton fall behind; Freeman taking advantage when Everton’s defence were, in Martinez’s words, ‘naive’ in failing to clear a long ball.
Although Everton dominated possession in the second half it was only youngsters Ross Barkley and Deulofeu who threatened to find a way through. As Stevenage shut up shop, hoping to get penalties, Martinez finally turned to Fellaini.
Everton: (4-1-2-3) Robles; Hibbert (Coleman 66), Jagielka(c) (Distin 46), Stones, Oviedo; Heitinga; Osman, Barkley (Fellaini 96); Naismith, Deulofeu, Kone
Unused subs: Baines, Jelavic, Mirallas, Howard
Stevenage: (4-1-4-1): Day; Gray, Ashton, Hartley, Deacon; J Smith (Tansey 53); Freeman, Dunne, Doughty (Heslop 89), Shroot; Charles (Tounkara 27)
Unused subs: Arnold, Jones, Burrow, Haber
Booked: Gray, Doughty, Hartley
Referee: Keith Stroud