There was no giant-killing at Goodison, but nor was there the anticipated slaughter of the Lambs as Tamworth of the Blue Square Premier gave a thoroughly good account of themselves. They were beaten by an early header and a late penalty. In between they matched their illustrious opponents and were not infrequently the more threatening side.
"The difference between the Conference and the Premier League was a dubious penalty and a set-piece," said the Tamworth manager, Marcus Law, understandably delighted by the show they put up.
It was appropriate that the crowd should begin the afternoon by remembering Gary Ablett, a player who carved himself a unique niche in Merseyside FA Cup folklore as the only man to win the trophy with both Liverpool and Everton.
There was also a sense of history about the arrival of Tamworth, playing in the third round for only the third time and facing arguably the club's biggest-ever match.
Everton have a proud record of never having lost to non-League opposition and, by and large, the changes David Moyes made to the side beaten by Bolton were enforced, notably defensive king-pin, Phil Jagielka, missing with a knee injury.
It was a good day, therefore, for his usual partner, Johnny Heitinga, to not only keep the backline tight, but also to chip in with his first goal of the season. It came after only five minutes, as Landon Donovan, in the second game of his second loan spell from LA Galaxy, put over a corner from the left and the Dutchman headed home.
That might have triggered a collapse by the Conference side, but a couple of James McFadden efforts aside, in his first start of the season, that never transpired.
Tamworth had their first threatening moment with a surging run from Nick McKoy, making his debut at a three-quarter full Goodison, rather than in front of the usual 1,000 or so at the Lamb Ground.
The other man to catch the eye was Kyle Patterson, who made a couple of incisive runs, one of which ended with a shot just past the far post.
Everton were worried again when Phil Neville headed over his own bar with rather too little to spare and when Sylvain Distin cleared off the line from the energetic Patterson's header, not knowing that the flag was already up for a marginal offside.
At half-time, Tamworth stayed on the pitch for a pep-talk. When they finally trooped off, it was to an ovation – from fans of both sides.
They were equally competitive after the break but after a brilliant save by Joe Collister from Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, two of Moyes' substitutes helped clinch Everton the tie.
Royston Drenthe went down in a challenge by Sam Habergam after a mazy run. It looked a harsh penalty but was converted with aplomb by Leighton Baines.
Everton (4-3-1-2): Howard; Coleman (Baines, 57), Heitinga, Distin, Neville; Bilyaletdinov, Fellaini, Gueye; Donovan; Anichebe (Stracqualursi, 72), McFadden (Drenthe, 64).
Tamworth (4-1-3-2): Collister; Tait, Francis, Kanyuka, Hambergam; Coutrtney (McDonald, 79); Thomas (Sharif, 66), McKoy, Barrow; Patterson, Christie (St Aimie, 61).
Referee Robert Madley.
Man of the match Patterson (Tamworth).
Match rating 7/10.
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