Jeffers chooses right time to play the prodigal son

Everton 1 Fulham 1
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The Independent Football

Francis Jeffers' first goal of his loan spell back at his original club kept Everton in the FA Cup with a 90th-minute equaliser.

Jeffers, on loan from Arsenal and without a goal in 12 previous appearances, was not brought on until the 84th minute but he was there as time ran out when Edwin van der Sar clawed Duncan Ferguson's header off the line, leaving him with a tap-in only complicated by Lee Clark's desperate effort to clear the ball off the line.

"It will make him feel much better," the Everton manager, David Moyes, said. "It will do his confidence a bit of good." Until Jeffers' intervention, Everton looked like being beaten by a goal from Sean Davis, the player they were set to sign this summer, as Fulham threatened to make a winning start to life without Louis Saha.

"He scored 15 goals and he was a great player but he's gone and we've drawn a line under it," said the Fulham manager, Chris Coleman, who admitted he is still looking for a replacement striker but would not be too worried if he could not find one. "We've got more than enough in the squad to have a good second half of the season," he said.

Barry Hayles was given the task of leading the line, but it was Luis Boa Morte who had the first chance, courtesy of Ferguson's misdirected pass. His effort was a weak one that was wide of the post, but Hayles should have done better when his shot was blocked after Steed Malbranque's trickery had set him up.

Against that, Everton had one rasping shot over the bar from Tomasz Radzinski and a couple of penetrative passes from Thomas Gravesen, before a Ferguson header from Kevin Kilbane's cross required a clearance off the line from Fulham's new American defender, Carlos Bocanegra. Kilbane also volleyed straight at the goalkeeper as both defences looked equally unconvincing.

There was a case in point after 23 minutes when Clark's pass put Hayles clean through, only for his low shot to be kept out by Nigel Martyn's outstretched foot. Three minutes later, Kilbane had the ball in the net but he had handled in bringing it under control.

Everton, with Wayne Rooney operating effectively wide on the right, were applying the pressure now with Alessandro Pistone going close with a fierce shot, along with another Kilbane effort that went wide and Alex Nyarko having one saved before the end of what had become a frustrating first half for the home side.

That frustration grew immeasurably four minutes after the break as Fulham reversed the emerging pattern of the game by taking the lead.

The excellent Malbranque fed Clark and, when his cross was beaten out by Martyn, Bocanegra was there to put it back in the middle. When Everton could not clear, Davis pounced to punish the club that would have recruited him in the close season but for his knee problem.

That signalled even more attacking urgency from Everton, but with Alain Goma generally winning his aerial battle with Ferguson, the next real chance fell to Fulham, with Hayles shooting into the side-netting after more good work from Malbranque.

Everton then had what they thought was a penalty when Zat Knight appeared to touch the ball as Rooney tried to go around him. Ferguson then had all the time in the world to measure a shot but saw Van der Sar dive to make the block.

In the last few minutes, Rooney sent a shot across goal after bringing the ball down beautifully and Ferguson, free for once, got his foot to Gravesen's chip only to steer it wide. That looked like being the last chance until Jeffers' belated contribution and a valuable first goal of the second phase of his Everton career.

Goals: Davis (49) 0-1; Jeffers (90) 1-1.

Everton (4-4-2): Martyn; Hibbert, Stubbs, Unsworth (Naysmith, 58), Pistone (Jeffers, 84); Rooney, Gravesen, Nyarko, Kilbane; Ferguson, Radzinski. Substitutes not used: Simonsen (gk), Campbell, Carsley.

Fulham (4-1-4-1): Van der Sar; Volz, Knight, Goma, Bocanegra; Djetou; Malbranque, Davis, Clark, Boa Morte; Hayles (Sava, 80). Substitutes not used: Crossley (gk), Inamoto, Petta, Green.

Referee: D Gallagher (Banbury).

Man of the match: Malbranque.

Attendance: 27,862.