Chris Coleman was crestfallen after an injury-time strike from Francis Jeffers rescued a replay for Everton when Fulham looked set to progress to the fifth round following Sean Davis’ second-half strike.
Jeffers did his chances of a permanent return to Goodison Park the power of good by pouncing in stoppage time, forcing home the rebound after Edwin van der Sar did brilliantly to keep out Duncan Ferguson’s header. Fulham had battled bravely in the absence of ex-Everton forward Brian McBride and the cup-tied Ian Pearce – coming very close to earning a spot in the next round after Davis, who the Merseysiders made a concerted attempt to sign last summer, opened the scoring from close range after Nigel Martyn had saved from Carlos Bocanegra.
David Moyes’ side embodied their manager’s sense of adventure, attacking from the outset after the Scot opted to start with three forwards. The Toffees’ first chance fell to the lively Tomasz Radzinski, who was released by Kevin Kilbane, and the Canadian international skipped inside Moritz Volz and his rising drive from twenty yards only just cleared the crossbar. Bocanegra then did superbly to clear off the line from Ferguson after the Scottish striker turned Kilbane’s cross goalwards before the Irish international tested van der Sar’s handling.
Fulham, infuriated by Dermot Gallagher’s indulgence of Everton’s regular roughing up of Luis Boa Morte – who was stamped on by Thomas Gravesen – operated largely on the break but still carved out significant chances. One counter attack led to a good opening for Barry Hayles, whose low drive was smuggled behind by a worried Martyn. Kilbane had a goal disallowed for handball, Kilbane saw a header blocked by Bocanegra, and then shot wide after being played in by Wayne Rooney.
The pattern continued after the interval, with Radzinski continually troubling Volz down the Everton left. But the hosts failed to break the deadlock – and it was Coleman’s charges who took the lead three minutes into the second half. Malbranque drove from midfield and found Lee Clark, whose cross found Bocanegra and Davis was on hand to slot home after some chaotic Everton defending.
The hosts rallied to put Fulham’s goal under serious pressure by way of response. A mazy dribble Alex Nyarko took the midfielder away from three defenders but Zat Knight and Alain Goma got back to snuff out the danger. As Moyes urged his side to commit more men forwards, the visitors had more chances on the break. Davis created another glorious chance for Hayles, who fluffed his lines, shooting in the side netting from a promising position.
Everton came again. Rooney saw his appeals for handball against Knight waved off and Ferguson was denied by an excellent reaction save when he powered a sweet strike goalwards. Moyes eventually turned to Jeffers with six minutes left and the former England striker levelled in stoppage time when Fulham failed to shackle Ferguson at a corner and Jeffers swept in the rebound after van der Sar had parried the veteran’s header.
EVERTON (4-3-3): Martyn; Hibbert, Pistone (Jeffers 85), Stubbs, Unsworth (Naysmith 58); Gravesen, Nyarko, Kilbane; Radzinski, Rooney, Ferguson. Subs (not used): Simonsen, Carsley, Campbell.
GOAL: Jeffers (90).
FULHAM (4-3-3): van der Sar; Volz, Bocanegra, Knight, Goma; Djetou, Davis, Clark; Malbranque, Boa Morte, Hayles (Sava 81). Subs (not used): Crossley, Green, Inamoto, Petta.
BOOKED: Hayles, Goma, Malbranque.
GOAL: Davis (49).
REFEREE: Dermot Gallagher (Oxfordshire).