Martinez not the only one left purring as Everton cruise past outclassed Dagenham
Everton 2-0 Dagenham & Redbridge
Goodison Park may feature in the latest Rocky film, Creed, which opens in cinemas this week, but there was no stirring underdog triumph for Dagenham and Redbridge at the old ground yesterday. By comparison with Everton's rousing home win over Manchester City in the Capital One Cup semi-final first-leg three days earlier, this had a more routine feel as Roberto Martinez's side progressed to the FA Cup fourth round through Arouna Kone's first-half header and a late Kevin Mirallas penalty.
There were 2,000 fans from east London - and a "North Korean Daggers" flag hanging from the balcony of the Bullens Road stand - but Dagenham and Redbridge's hopes of a first-ever victory over top-flight opposition fizzled out in the Merseyside rain. The League Two side worked hard to contain their hosts but the most awkward moment for any home player came when goalkeeper Joel Robles tried to grab the black-and-white cat that wandered on to the pitch late in the second half, only for the furry invader to dash from his grasp.
"I think he had great style and movement," joked Martinez, who had the satisfaction of seeing midfielder Steven Pienaar's first appearance since last April along with Phil Jagielka's return after a two-and-a-half month absence. The Spaniard, who lost defender Ramiro Funes Mori to a deep head wound in the first half, also confirmed that his Republic of Ireland winger Aiden McGeady was omitted from his matchday squad because of an impending loan move, with three clubs interested.
With Romelu Lukaku absent, Kone led the line and his opening goal came when he outjumped Christian Doidge to head in from Bryan Oviedo's free-kick. Not until the 85th minute did Mirallas add Everton's second, though, when he tucked away his penalty after being tripped by Nyron Nosworthy.
Although Dagenham goalkeeper Mark Cousins saved well from Funes Mori and Kone, John Still, the visiting manager, felt his side, sitting deep, had largely frustrated Everton.
"The two goals were from restarts - a free-kick and a penalty - so in open play we have done as well as we could have done other than winning," said Still. Dagenham are third-bottom of League Two and it was a measure of the gulf between these clubs that their starting XI featured two loan signings, Ashley Hemmings and Joe Worrall, who had never even trained with their new team-mates before the game. Today they were warriors and between now and the end of the season we will need warriors," added Still, who has recently begun his third spell managing the club. "I am very proud."
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