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Everton 1-1 West Ham - Instant reaction

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Lukaku spares us further humiliation

Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

UPDATE: Everton's FA Cup third round replay against West Ham United will take place at Upton Park on Tuesday, 13th January at 7:45pm BST (2:45pm EST, 11:45am PST).

Could this be the turning point? Or merely prolonging the agony?

Romelu Lukaku's injury time strike prevented Everton from losing for a fifth straight game and kept them in the FA Cup, though a tricky replay at Upton Park awaits in 10 days time.

It was just rewards for a promising performance by Lukaku, who has taken his fair share of criticism during Everton's recent disastrous run.

It could so easily have been another defeat though and there was precious little sign of the team putting that poor run behind them for much of the game.

Manager Roberto Martinez was without Leighton Baines after the full-back took a knock against Hull. Bryan Oviedo deputised and did a capable job. Though the absence of youngster Luke Garbutt again raised eyebrows.

Gareth Barry once again started despite his poor form, with Muhamed Besic alongside him. It was square peg in round holes time again further forward though, with Ross Barkley shoved out on the left to accommodate Steven Naismith through the middle.

That said, Everton were much improved in the first half, their passing a lot more incisive, their movement a lot more fluid. Lukaku, Barkley, Naismith and Kevin Mirallas all looked dangerous in spells, though West Ham 'keeper Adrian wasn't tested enough.

Defending though is another story with Phil Jagielka inparticular having a particularly rocky night. Nine minutes into the second half James Collins was allowed to lumber forward unmarked and head West Ham in front from a corner. Awful, awful, defending.

Everton's confidence is so fragile that goal caused heads to drop and the team's attacking play fizzle away. The supporters, worn down after a wretched festive period, also seemed resigned not just to another defeat but a listless performance from a team that is in freefall.

To cap it all we suffered ANOTHER hamstring injury, this time Sylvain Distin limping off to be replaced by John Stones. Reports this week linking Everton's casualty list with departures of key medical staff gained another piece of evidence.

As the clock ticked over into stoppage time there appeared little hope, until some determined play by substitute Aiden McGeady resulted in Oviedo putting the ball in from the left, Lukaku taking a touch and acrobatically scrambling the ball into the corner.

The players pushed for an improbable winner but that would have been extremely harsh on West Ham, with both sides having to settle for a replay.

It has stopped the rot at least and gives the squad something to cling to, not least the under-fire Lukaku. But they won't get away with such a performance when Manchester City come to town on Saturday, meaning things still could get worse before they get better.