Everton squeezed into the Fourth Round of the Capital One Cup thanks to second half goals from Ross Barkley and Gerard Deulofeu.
As predicted Martinez made several changes from the side that drew with Swansea last Saturday.
Joel, Lennon, Funes Mori, Deulofeu and Osman came in for Howard, Galloway, Browning, Barry and Naismith. It looked for everyone’s money that we would be playing three at the back.
The Blues were playing an unorthodox line-up with a three-man back line, Aaron Lennon as an unconvincing wing-back and Deulofeu seemingly in a floating role ahead of Leon Osman and James McCarthy in midfield, Everton started brightly and created a chance for Arouna Kone after 10 minutes that the Ivorian scuffed weakly wide.
Joel was the first keeper to make a save of any note when he saved Blackman’s fierce 18-yard shot over the bar. Another hammered shot goal-wards saw the Spanish ‘keeper fist the ball awkwardly away 10 minutes before the break.
The home side took the lead a minute later, though, when Ola John whipped a cross in from the left that Blackman swept home as Funes Mori tried to hook it away at the back post and the ball flew into the roof of the net.
Half time Reading 1 Everton 0
Martinez made a change at half time by withdrawing Kone for Barry and the Blues were forced into another change almost immediately when John Stones was taken off with an injury to be replaced by Galloway.
Barry’s gave us more presence in midfield and gave us that balance we were crying out for. Everton began to look far more authoritative but too many hopeful passes towards the subdued Lukaku and the mercurial Deulofeu meant that they were lacking potency going forward.
Everton maintained the possession, though, and when a Deulofeu corner was cleared to Barkley, the 21-year-old smashed a left-footed volley past Al-Habsi to level put the Blues level.
10 minutes later it was 2-1 when Barkley was flattened in full flight by Michael Hector and Deulofeu powered a free kick from 30 yards that Al-Habsi could only push into his side-netting.
Reading rallied as the game entered the final 10 minutes and they had Robles scrambling to his left post as a deflected shot from Tshibola dribbled wide and back-to-back corners were dealt with by the Toffees’ defence.
Full Time Reading 1 Everton 2
We got the job done in the end and essentially the quality of Barkley and Deulofeu was the difference on the night. The first half experiment just didn’t work and it took the substitute of the much maligned Barry to give us that shape in midfield. Lennon, Osman, Deulofeu and Funes Mori all got 90 minutes under their belts, which will be beneficial moving forwards. The only down side to the night was the injury to Stones. Martinez has said it was just precautionary, so fingers crossed it is only that. However cup football is all about progressing and that’s just what we did!
Ross Barkley was the stand out performer on the night, getting the all important equalizer to bring us back into the game. He’s drive and pace also won us the free kick that Deulofeu dispatched brilliantly. He is returning to the form we saw two years ago. Lets hope it continues, especially with the Derby just around the corner.
Come on you Blues!