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FA Cup - Football: Can Boreham Wood beat Everton?

Boreham Wood are the lowest ranked team left in this season's FA Cup, but can the National League highflyers stun Everton in the fifth round on Thursday?

Luke Garrard's side will head to Goodison Park looking to become only the second non-league team in the history of the FA Cup to make it through to the quarter-finals, following in the footsteps of a Lincoln City side that achieved the feat just five years ago.

There is no doubting the magnitude of the task that awaits the team from Hertfordshire, with 78 places separating them and Everton in the football pyramid, but after seeing off Championship promotion hopefuls Bournemouth in round four, the Wood will head to Merseyside with plenty of hope, and perhaps more importantly, nothing to lose.

An Everton win after 90 minutes can be backed at 1/7, with the draw at 7/1, while a Boreham Wood victory, which would go down as one of the greatest shocks in FA Cup history, is priced at 16/1.

Getting to know Boreham Wood

Boreham Wood were founded in 1948 and, after spending the majority of their history in the lower reaches of the non-league pyramid, they are currently enjoying their most successful period after earning promotion to the National League in 2015.

The Wood were 90 minutes away from being promoted to the EFL in 2018 before they were beaten in that year's playoff final by Tranmere, but this season they are again in the mix to earn a place in the fourth tier.

Garrard's side currently sit fourth in the standings, eight points behind league leaders Stockport, but they boast at least three games in hand on all the sides above them in the standings thanks largely to their run in the FA Cup.

Winning the National League title at 16/1 is the ultimate aim for the Wood this season, but it is fair to say their FA Cup run has been anything but a distraction.

After seeing off National League rivals Barnet in the final qualifying round, the Wood then beat Eastleigh and St Albans City to make it through to the third round for the second year in a row.

A home win over League One outfit Wimbledon followed in round three before they produced arguably the biggest result in their history in the fourth round, winning 1-0 away at Bournemouth thanks to a goal from 37-year-old captain Mark Ricketts.

Remarkably, Boreham Wood have made it through to the fifth round without having conceded a goal in this season's competition.

If they can repeat that trick at Goodison on Thursday then we could well end up witnessing one of the greatest shocks in FA Cup history.

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Toffees have other priorities

Everton currently sit just a place and a point above the Premier League relegation zone, with manager Frank Lampard having won one of his four top-flight matches in charge following his appointment at the end of January.

Lampard did also steer the Toffees to a convincing 4-1 victory over Brentford in round four of the FA Cup, and despite Saturday's narrow and somewhat controversial league defeat to Manchester City, confidence should slowly be starting to return to the squad.

Boreham Wood have already underlined their away credentials with victory at Bournemouth, but Thursday's visitors have failed to win or even score in their three matches on the road since that success at the Vitality Stadium.

Saturday's 1-0 home win over Eastleigh does at least mean the Wood will head to Merseyside with some momentum under their belts, but Everton will still fancy their chances of claiming a victory to nil at 8/13.

Fitness concerns in both camps

It will be interesting to see if Lampard opts to rotate his starting XI on Thursday, with Everton facing a trip to Tottenham in the Premier League four days later, but three players that will definitely miss out are January arrivals Donny van de Beek, Dele Alli and Anwar El Ghazi, who are all cup tied.

Striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin will also be absent due to an adductor injury and he will be joined on the sidelines by Tom Davies, Yerry Mina, Ben Godfrey and Fabian Delph, which could open the door for youngsters such as Jarrad Branthwaite and Nathan Patterson to earn rare starts.

Boreham Wood also have fitness concerns, with round-four hero Ricketts a doubt after he was forced to sit out the weekend win over Eastleigh win a knock, while boyhood Everton fan Kane Smith is also struggling.

First-choice goalkeeper Nathan Ashmore is fit, however, following a 16-week layoff with a quad issue, while defender Jamal Fyfield, who recently put pen to paper on a new contract, has shaken off a hamstring complaint.

Boreham Wood drawing on history

The magic of the FA Cup is epitomised by past giant-killings and Boreham Wood will be hoping to etch their name into the history books alongside the likes of Hereford, Sutton and Wrexham, who have all produced shock victories in times gone by.

More recently, Lincoln disposed of top-flight Burnley on their way through to the quarter finals in 2017 before they were stopped in their tracks by Arsenal in the last eight.

Sutton reached the fifth round in the same season as Lincoln before also bowing out to Arsenal, but only after seeing off Championship Leeds in round four.

Luton, Colchester and Yeovil are among the other non-league teams that have all beaten top-flight opposition in the past, and Boreham Wood are priced at 10/1 to join that list by seeing off Everton and qualifying for the quarter finals for the first time in their history.

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