League Two leaders Lincoln may have fallen a 2-1 defeat at Goodison Park, but it is they who will come out of this tie with their heads held higher.
Ever since that freak goal at Anfield just over a month ago, Everton have looked a shadow of the side that had been turning heads at the start of Silva’s reign. And the same problems were exasperated against a side three leagues below the Blues.
Lincoln started brightly, but two moments of quality put Everton 2-0 up inside 15 minutes. First a classic Leighton Baines cross found Ademola Lookman whose looping header found its way over the line.
Then some great combination play between Gylfi Sigurdsson and Dominic Calvert-Lewin put Bernard through on goal for his first Everton goal. It looked as if another Premier League rout over a League Two side was on the cards.
And Everton continued to dominate possession for the next 15 minutes, although conjured little in the way of clear chances.
But then some familiar Everton problems emerged, starting with Lincoln scoring - of course – from a set-piece. Blues heads dropped, as did the quality, while Lincoln continued to look threatening at dead ball situations.
Everton managed to get in at half-time still in the lead, but Silva saw fit to haul of Calvert-Lewin and Davies. The latter of whom will surely see this as a missed opportunity with lots of loose passing hindering his hopes of working his way back into the side any time soon.
Despite no further goals in the second-half, the game followed a similar pattern. Everton bossed possession for the first 30 minutes without really going close to scoring, often forcing the ball out wide and crosses reaching no-one. Lincoln then looked the more likely to score late on, with a slew of set-pieces putting Everton under great pressure. Everton, though, held on.
It’s clear that Everton’s problems of the last month (i.e. inaccurate passing, suspect defending at set pieces and a reliance on going out wide to the full-backs) remain.
Despite that, Everton are in the hat for the Fourth Round, and at the end of the day that is all that matters.