There are not many instances when non-league sides find themselves in the fifth round of the biggest cup tournament in English football. That is what National League side Boreham Wood found itself in when it entered Goodison Park.
Frank Lampard and the Toffees ended Luke Garrard and the Wood's run with a 2-nil victory last week in Merseyside. There was a slim chance that Boreham Wood could take down a struggling Premier League side, but the belief is what the FA Cup is all about. At the half, the Wood and Everton were knotted at zero with a suffocating defensive effort by the side that comes from just outside London.
Following the match manager, Luke Garrard gave his honest opinion, "We had a game plan and they had a lot of the ball but their quality in the final third wasn’t great...They didn’t really get up the side of us and try and get a numerical advantage down the side of us, but that’s exactly what they did in the second half...But the fact we have come to Everton in the first half and kept them at 0-0 is a credit to the team...We worked on it this week. Shutting the gaps, compact, but they went up several gears in the second half and when you bring on Richarlison and the way he and Rondon worked together."
Everton, who sit just one point above the drop zone, should be slightly concerned after it had many issues breaking down a non-league backline. Just 12 years ago, the Wood were back in the seventh tier of English football. They have only been in the fifth tier for seven years, and are on track to make it to the EFL for the first time in their team's history. Garrard and company sit in fourth place in the National League and are chasing down Stockport, and Chesterfield for an opportunity that will feel more like a dream to them.
Even though the Toffees ended Boreham Wood's run, it leaves Goodison Park knowing that it was able to hang with a side that spends the sixth most money in all of English football. Everton's quality in the final third just has not been there as of late. The Toffees have only taken four points from their last nine top-flight matches. Some say there is no chance that a big club like Everton gets relegated from the Premier League, but after the fifth round of the FA Cup, the chances are there. Having Lampard at the helm has clearly not worked in the slightest, and the players that he brought in are just not up to par with what a successful team in the Premier League needs. The furthest the Wood went in the FA Cup before was just the second round in 1996 and 1997.
Being able to make a name for themselves in the public eye was huge for such a small club as Boreham Wood. Its stadium capacity is around 4,500 people, and only 1,700 of them are able to sit. The club shares its ground with the Arsenal women and the Arsenal academy teams. Goodison Park on the other hand has a capacity of around 40,000 people.
The odds were completely not in its favor the entire tournament, but the club became just the tenth non-league side in history to make it to the fifth round of the FA Cup. It is the first time since the 2016-2017 season when Sutton United beat Leeds United in the fourth round but ended up losing to mighty Arsenal 2-nil in the fifth round. It is the second time in Everton's history that they knocked a non-league side out of the FA Cup in the fifth round. The last time was back in 1985 when it defeated Telford United FC by a scoreline of 3-nil.
Everyone loves an underdog story, and Boreham Wood is the poster child of that phrase. The Wood did what very few teams in English football history were able to do. Even though their run may have come to a close, their experiences and memories will serve them well going forward. Seeing what a top-flight club experiences on a day-to-day basis will motivate them going into the rest of the National League season.
Boreham Wood's next two fixtures are massive heading into the final stretch of the season. It could be the deciding factor of if it will make it into the EFL for the first time in club history. Chesterfield and Wrexham sit in the second and third places in the table respectively. The Wood need to find a way to get as many points as possible from these two matches. Both matches against this opposition earlier in the year did not go as planned, but that was before they knew that could hang with a Premier League club even if that club is of a lower-tier like Everton.