Everton exited the Carabao Cup at the third round stage with a 4-1 loss to Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium.
Manager Frank Lampard shuffled his pack for the clash on the south coast, making 11 changes to the side that started against Leicester City in the Premier League three days earlier.
Fortuitous strikes early in both halves proved costly for the Blues, who halved the deficit through Demarai Gray midway through the second period before conceding twice late on.
The hosts started brightly but the opener on seven minutes came in extremely fortunate circumstances, when Jamal Lowe’s hopeful side-footed shot from just inside the penalty area took a wicked deflection off the outstretched leg of James Garner and looped into the back of the net via the crossbar.
The early setback appeared to jolt Everton into life, though, and a flurry of opportunities followed in the space of a breathless five-minute period.
The best of those fell to Tom Davies after a defence-splitting pass from Abdoulaye Doucoure but, with only the goalkeeper to beat, the Academy graduate fired over the crossbar.
Everton came again and James Garner — on his maiden start for the Club following his summer move from Manchester United — forced Mark Travers into a save at full stretch with an opportunistic left-footed drive from 20-yards out.
Rúben Vinagre then burst down the left flank and produced an inviting cross that was met by Yerry Mina at the far post, only for Anthony Gordon to miscue his header over the target.
On the opposite flank, Nathan Patterson threatened with a driving 70-yard run but his lay-off towards Gordon at the crucial moment was under-hit and Bournemouth survived.
After overcoming that onslaught, the Cherries began to frustrate Lampard’s side and that was underlined when Gordon picked up the first yellow card of the evening for a heavy sliding challenge as the half drew to a close.
Those feelings were compounded with the second period less than two minutes old.
Asmir Begovic, captaining Everton against his former side, looked to find Holgate, who slipped at the vital moment allowing Ryan Christie to pinch possession. The Bournemouth midfielder’s cut-back was then deflected into the path of Lowe and then yet another ricochet on the goalscorer’s attempted cross allowed Junior Stanislas to tap home from close range to double the deficit.
Lampard immediately responded with a triple substitution that saw Alex Iwobi, Demarai Gray and Dwight McNeil enter the fray.
Two of those changes combined to get Everton back in the contest with 24 minutes remaining, with Iwobi’s pass helped on by Maupay to Gray, who held off Ryan Fredericks before pivoting and curling an exquisite curling shot beyond Travers.
The Toffees, buoyed by another sold-out away following, had their tails up but were then dealt another blow when Bournemouth restored their two-goal advantage with 12 minutes remaining, substitute Emiliano Marcondes sweeping home a rebound after Begovic had denied Lowe.
Tom Cannon was handed a senior debut with 10 minutes remaining, while Stanley Mills also stepped off the bench after impressing for the Under-21s so far this campaign.
But Bournemouth added a fourth via Jaidon Anthony in the closing minutes to seal a disappointing night.
Everton head back to the Vitality Stadium on Saturday in the Premier League in the final game before the World Cup break.
Lampard on his message to Evertonians following the game....
The fans have travelled down and had to endure a poor performance, no doubt. They spend their money, spend their time, to come to support the team. For the players to perform as they did, then you have to hold your hands up and say it's not good enough.
On making 11 changes for the match…
In terms of the set-up of the game, I made changes because I've got to protect players who have got niggles or are playing again with the [short] turnaround for a really important league game on Saturday. But I also made changes because some players have been knocking on my door wanting to play and some players have trained well and made a case for playing. You put them in because they play for Everton and they should be able to come to Bournemouth and compete. Without even going into the nitty gritty details, they should be able to because there's a lot of experience in that team. They didn't do that – it's clear as day. I think the fans saw that.
On his strong belief the team he picked was strong enough to win…
Absolutely – there's no doubt about that. We can go into detail of the game... We should have been winning at half-time. They had one deflected shot, we had two golden chances. That changes the feeling of the game. The second goal is just an incredible goal from our point of view – it can't happen at this level of football, that type of goal, there's no doubt about that. That makes the game difficult.
You chase the game and what happened can happen. There's another mistake on the fourth goal. There are individuals that need to look at themselves and say 'I was absolutely culpable there' and hold their hands up. Generally, this season, one thing I can say about us is that we've been defensively sound, defensively resolute when balls go into the box, and you don't get the feeling that teams are going to score. We've been very good at that and tonight it looked different.
On his quest for improvement at Everton…
I wanted to get through to the next round of the Carabao Cup, but when I look at the squad now, I learn more from them tonight than I do from watching training every day. That’s really interesting to me and we have to understand this season there may be difficult patches as we go forward to get to where we want to be.
It’s not just going to go from where we were at the end of last season – just staying in the league, losing the main source of goals in the team – then trying to build around that with some signings and younger players, loans and free transfers. That road is not a simple one. Tonight was a big example of that.
On the quick turnaround before playing Bournemouth again in the Premier League on Saturday….
That’s the good news. We’ll look different and we’ll play different. I’m not talking about things like the system or shape – I’m just talking about a level of individual performance.
If we get the three points, then I’d be relatively happy with the first part of the season and where we are in the league – you always want more, but it’s a competitive league and we’ve had a lot of challenges. That’s all my focus is on and this game only hones that focus more.
On Mason Holgate’s fitness…
Mason had a small issue with his knee at half-time, and I was aware of that. He seemed to hobble a bit after a pass before the second goal and then the goal happened. I was looking at possible changes early in the second half anyway, so it made sense to take Mason off.