Clinical Everton march on

Posted by Luke O'Farrell

Leon Osman celebrates with his team-mates after netting Everton's thirdPA PhotosLeon Osman celebrates with his team-mates after netting Everton's third

Learning from the dismal League Cup exit, this was a statement of intent by David Moyes. Minus one or two, this was the strongest available side and the reward was a safe passage into the fourth round. Everton rarely moved beyond second gear, but displayed a clinical edge that has been absent on occasion this season.

- Report: Cheltenham 1-5 Everton

Often more ragged than rampant in the early stages, Everton began with too many aimless long balls toward an isolated Nikica Jelavic. However, the pitch, in almost perfect condition, was conducive to good football and once Everton realised this their class began to show.

Aside from the clinical finishing and easy progression, there were a number of other positives with Bryan Oviedo excelling in several positions. The Costa Rican began on the left, shifted over to the right and ended the match at left back.

David Moyes spoke afterwards about his concerns over Leighton Baines as the England man is nursing an ankle injury; Moyes gave Baines a rest for the final 30 minutes as a result. Given Baines' knock, the versatility of Oviedo provides a viable option should Baines succumb to this troublesome ankle injury.

Continuing his recent form, another positive was Victor Anichebe. The attitude and sulking are gone with commitment and a will to win in their place. Assisting the last two goals, Anichebe showed a more creative side to his game. Anichebe is threatening to develop into the player that his potential has always promised.

Heavily involved throughout and highlighting his nifty footwork for the third, Leon Osman is enjoying the form of his Everton career. Criticised in some circles for his propensity to create and miss chances, the aplomb shown for his goal will have pleased both player and manager.

Just fewer than 7,000 crammed into Whaddon Road with over 1,000 Evertonians making the trip down to Cheltenham. Once again, the Everton fans sold out their away allocation and their tremendous support is unwavering. Facing another Monday night venture in two weeks, the trip to Southampton has also sold out as Everton fans travel with a growing whiff of Europe in their nostrils.

In spite of the old-fashioned stadium and the boisterous sell out crowd, Cheltenham appeared strangely subdued. Only sparking into life after Everton took a three-goal lead, the home side gave their opponents too much respect. This season, Moyes' men have struggled against the physical, aggressive sides; Cheltenham may have missed a trick on that front.

Overall, it was a thoroughly professional job from a strong Everton side. Nikica Jelavic grabbed a confidence-boosting goal, Seamus Coleman marked his return with the goal of the night and Baines scored in the third round for the fourth consecutive season. The only blot on the copybook was an 18th successive game without a clean sheet. Slack defending allowed Russell Penn to beat Tim Howard at his near post; Marouane Fellaini failed to track Penn’s run into the penalty area in the build up.

Fortress Goodison hosts Swansea on Saturday as Everton resume their assault on the Top 4. The injured players close on returns and the Toffees are primed for a strong second half of the season - continuing with Monday's clinical finishing would go some way to ensuring that.

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