Evan Ferguson in action for Brighton against Sheffield United. Alamy Stock Photo

Everton suffer shock FA Cup exit as Ferguson grabs assist to help Brighton progress

Meanwhile, Tom Cannon earned an assist in Leicester’s win after coming on for Jamie Vardy.

SUBSTITUTE CAULEY WOODROW scored the winner deep into added time as Luton reached the fifth round of the FA Cup for only the second time in 11 years with a 2-1 victory over Everton.

The additional five minutes indicated had already passed when a goalmouth scramble at a corner saw Woodrow convert from close range after Arnaut Danjuma’s clearance had rebounded off him.

It spared the blushes of Hatters goalkeeper Tim Krul, whose error looked like allowing the hosts to escape with a replay in a tie distinctly lacking in magic for the majority.

The Netherlands international let Jack Harrison’s long-range shot squirm from his grasp and trickle over the line to cancel out Vitalii Mykolenko’s contentious first-half own goal.

Everton’s back-up goalkeeper Joao Virginia, man of the match in their third-round replay victory over Crystal Palace 10 days ago, had kept them in the game with two crucial saves while Nathan Patterson also cleared a shot off the line.

Perhaps expectations should have been lowered for a tie between the Premier League’s 17th and 18th-placed teams, both of whom have their focus on avoiding relegation, but Everton failed to make home advantage count with an uninspiring performance.

Everton started Beto in place of the injured Andre Gomes, their match-winner against Palace, for only his sixth start of the season in a switch to 4-4-2.

While the big front man was full of enthusiasm, any hope he could quickly dovetail with Dominic Calvert-Lewin was soon dispelled as the pair barely linked up with each other and frequently found themselves in the same area challenging for the same ball.

In the one time they did manage to pick each other out, Beto placed a low shot wide from the edge of the penalty area when Calvert-Lewin should probably have slipped in Harrison.

Luton were better, but not hugely, with Elijah Adebayo heading wide Carlton Morris’ hanging cross and former Toffees midfielder Ross Barkley’s shot was headed away by James Tarkowski.

When they eventually took the lead five minutes before half-time it was not without a whiff of controversy because Calvert-Lewin overcommitted trying to attack Alfie Doughty’s inswinging ball and Barkley’s helping hand ensured momentum carried him to the ground.

The ball dropped into the space behind him where Mykolenko, under pressure from Reece Burke, deflected it down inside the near post and there was no VAR ruling over Barkley’s intervention.

Everton’s equaliser came 10 minutes after the break from their one real moment of attacking quality as Beto’s cross-field pass picked out Harrison, who showed a deftness of touch he lacked for most of the game to trap and cut inside, and Krul’s weak save contributed the assist.

Either side of that Virginia displayed his growing confidence deputising for the rested Jordan Pickford, denying Morris’ header and then getting the faintest of fingertips to Adebayo’s shot across him after the Luton forward had taken advantage of Jarrad Branthwaite’s slip to create a two-on-one.

However, team-mate Andros Townsend, to his right, had good justification for wondering why he did not receive the pass but when the former Everton winger took matters into his own hands to skip past Tarkowski and Virginia, Patterson cleared Morris’ shot off the line.

Beto’s shot was deflected wide by Burke but with the seconds running out Woodrow pounced.

liverpool-uk-27th-jan-2024-cauley-woodrow-of-luton-town-c-celebrates-with-his-teammates-after-scoring-his-teams-2nd-goal-emirates-fa-cup-4th-round-match-everton-v-luton-town-at-goodison-park-i Cauley Woodrow wheels away in celebration. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Meanwhile, Joao Pedro’s hat-trick sent Brighton through to the FA Cup fifth round with a 5-2 win at Sheffield United, as Evan Ferguson bagged an assist in the opening goal for the winners.

Pedro scored twice from the spot and crashed in an 18-yard drive after Facundo Buonanotte’s fine goal had given the Seagulls an early lead, with Danny Welbeck scoring at the death to seal an emphatic victory.

The Blades had battled back from 2-0 down to level thanks to goals from Gus Hamer and Will Osula but they lost to the better team at Bramall Lane.

Both sides were beaten semi-finalists in last year’s competition but it is Roberto De Zerbi’s side who are dreaming of another cup run while United can concentrate on trying to avoid Premier League relegation.

Brighton had already seen a goal chalked out for offside when they went ahead in sublime fashion in the 14th minute.

Buonanotte picked the ball up in the middle of the hosts’ half and jinked past a tackle before unleashing an unstoppable drive that found the top corner from 25 yards.

United would have been level four minutes later had it not been for some heroic defending from Jan Paul van Hecke and Igor Julio as they blocked shots from Osula and Hamer in quick succession.

That proved important as Brighton went 2-0 up just before the half-hour as a fine piece of skill from Pedro saw him burst into the area where he was clipped by Jayden Bogle.

The striker picked himself up and converted from the spot for his 16th goal of the season.

Sheffield United got one back in the 42nd minute when Osula broke clear down the right and his cross was palmed out by Brighton goalkeeper Bart Verbruggen straight into the path of Hamer, who fired home.

And in the eighth minute of time added on they got themselves level as Osula headed home Bogle’s cross from close range.

The drama continued in the second half as Brighton regained the lead seven minutes after the restart as Pedro scored his second penalty, stroking home after Bogle handled a cross.

Bogle tried to make amends at the other end as he was on the end of a lightning counter attack but saw his goalbound effort blocked by Pervis Estupinan.

Pedro claimed his first career hat-trick in the 67th minute, killing the tie with a low finish into the bottom corner.

United never threatened to get back into the game and Brighton made it five deep into added time when Welbeck fired under Blades debutant goalkeeper Ivo Grbic.

Elsewhere in the FA Cup, Ireland underage striker Tom Cannon contributed an assist to Leicester’s 3-0 win over Birmingham after coming on to replace Jamie Vardy in the second half.

Scott Hogan also featured for Birmingham as he was introduced in the 63rd minute for Keshi Anderson, with Kevin Long among the unused substitutes. 

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