Coleman’s 75th minute strike gave Everton a much needed boost ahead of a tricky FA Cup visit to Scunthorpe United on Saturday. Had the Toffees travelled to Glanford Park on the back of a disheartening home defeat the chances of them suffering the kind of upset that has plagued the Blues in the past would have increased tenfold. Confidence was low at Goodison Park, both on the pitch and in the stands, after Stoke City eased to victory on New Year’s Day but an excellent team performance, rewarded with a deserved three points has lifted some of the gloom. A safe passage through to the next round of a tournament Everton have had mixed fortunes in recently would be the perfect follow-up to the victory over high-flying Tottenham.
The highlight of Everton’s late FA Cup history was of course the trip to the final in 2009. Along the way David Moyes guided his side to victories over Aston Villa, Liverpool and Manchester United, and saw Louis Saha put Everton in front of eventual winners Chelsea in the final within a minute. But sandwiched either side of that trip to Wembley are a pair of disappointments, losing to League One Oldham Athletic at Goodison in 2008 and Birmingham City in 2010. While defeat to the Midlands Blues is not a terrible result by any means, it was at home and it was one of three failed attempts to beat Alex McLeish’s side in 2009/10, and after reaching the final the previous year, hopes were high of a repeat performance. As it was, Everton crashed out in the fourth round, having beaten Carlisle United 3-1 in the third round, at Goodison, in a game that was far closer than the scoreline suggests.
Moyes’ list of cup shocks is longer than his list of cup successes, such is the life of a long-serving Premier League manager. In Moyes’ first full season as Everton manager, 2002/03, he fell to a Shrewsbury Town side managed by Everton legend Kevin Ratcliffe. The Shrews won 2-1 but were still relegated out of the Football League that same season. 2004 brought a fourth round exit to Fulham, 2005 a fifth round defeat by Manchester United and 2006 another fourth round departure after a 4-1 hammering by Chelsea. If being hammered by a Jose Mourinho-led Chelsea was, if not acceptable, at least understandable, the same result a year later against Blackburn Rovers was not. With the Oldham humiliation next, it took until 2009 for Moyes to enjoy any magic in the FA Cup, nearly seven years after he replaced Walter Smith, and he will not want to wait that long again.