Lincoln City battled bravely before bowing out of the FA Cup after a 2-1 defeat at Premier League side Everton.
The Imps, who are top of League Two, went into their third round tie in Merseyside as underdogs but did their supporters proud with a valiant display at Goodison Park.
Lincoln are no strangers to FA Cup magic after becoming the first non-league side in over 100 years to reach the quarter-final of the FA Cup in the 2016/17 season, but it wasn’t to be this time.
Lincoln endured a tough opening 25 minutes during which time a lively Everton scored two goals. Ademola Lookman met Leighton Baines’ cross with a looping header to open the scoring after 12 minutes.
Everton doubled their advantage less than three minutes later. Good build-up play between Gylfi Sigurdsson, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Bernard ended with the latter delicately chipping the ball over Josh Vickers in the Lincoln goal.
Vickers kept the score down when he produced a fine save to deny Calvert-Lewin after 22 minutes.
The Imps refused to give up and reduced the deficit through Michael Bostwick’s goal six minutes later.
Michael O’Connor’s excellent free-kick found Jason Shackell, who forced a save out of Everton and England’s number one goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, but Bostwick was on hand to score from the rebound.
Lincoln made a promising start to the second half, but without causing Pickford too many problems.
Vickers produced some excellent saves at the other end as he denied Sigurdsson and Cenk Tosun.
Lincoln refused to give up and came very close to scoring an equaliser eight minutes from time. Neal Eardley’s coner was met by the head of Shackell, but the defender’s effort deflected wide.
Shackell sent another header towards goal soon after, which looked to have beaten Pickford, but Richarlison cleared it off the line.
At the other end Richarlison curled an effort wide and Vickers denied Tosun as Everton tried, but failed, to add to their lead.
Lincoln tried to fight for an equaliser with very little time remaining, but it didn’t come as Everton held on for victory.
Despite the defeat, Lincoln can be proud of their efforts and ultimately two quick-fire goals proved decisive on the day. The Imps can now focus back on their League Two campaign where they remain top of the table.