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Venue: Boundary Park, Oldham
FA Cup
 Saturday 16 February 2013; 6:00pm
2 2
Obita (13'), Smith (90+5')
Half Time: 1-1
Anichebe (26'), Jagielka, (48')
Attendance: 9,473
Fifth Round
Referee: Phil Dowd

Match Report

Everton were seconds away from booking their place in the last eight of the FA Cup but a last-gasp equaliser by substitute Matt Smith rescued Oldham and forced a replay at Goodison Park in 10 days' time.

The Blues looked to have successfully negotiated their way past the banana skin that upended Liverpool's hopes of progressing in the competition in the previous round and led 2-1 as the game ticked past the four minutes of stoppage time signaled by the fourth official. That's when a second successive corner launched from the home side's right found the head of 6' 6" Smith and he buried a header past the boxed-in Tim Howard to send Boundary Park into elation.

It presents another unwanted obstacle for David Moyes who must contend with an additional game on the calendar, but he will know that his side had enough in the tank to put this game to bed well before injury time and failed to do so.

Having fallen behind early on to a composed finish by Jordan Obita, the Blues leveled the game and then went ahead early in the second half. But Nikica Jelavic spurned their best chance to extend the advantage to two goals when he swept the a left-foot shot inches over the crossbar.

That preceded a desperate late assault by a hitherto contained and subdued Oldham outfit who bombarded their Premier League visitors with increasing pressure in the closing stages and managed to force the ball home with almost the last touch of the game.

Though their performance was still arguably below the standards established earlier in the campaign when they emerged as genuine candidates to finish in the top four, Everton were fairly comfortable nonetheless - in terms of possession and control of the game, at least - against a team that found the Blue team from Merseyside a good deal less accommodating than the Red side had been in the fourth round.

Indeed, it was from an Everton attack that the Latics scored when they caught the visitors on a counter-attack launched by ex-Goodison forward Jose Baxter's clearance. Leon Osman lost a 50-50 challenge with Lee Croft near the halfway line and the winger surged forward before sliding a perfect centre to Obita who tucked the ball home past the stranded Tim Howard after 12 minutes.

After Pienaar's free kick had been cleared off the line, the Blues were back on terms 12 minutes later, though, when Jean-Yves M'voto misjudged a bouncing ball in his own area and Victor Anichebe smashed home an emphatic shot that blazed past Dean Bouzanis.

Though they would come closer to breaking parity again when Obita fired a deflected shot off the base of Howard's post, Oldham's influence on the game would progressively weaken towards the end of the first half and into the second. And it was Everton who would take the lead shortly after half time.

Kevin Mirallas, a half-time replacement for Anichebe who appeared to tweak a groin muscle late in the first period, whipped in a pin-point corner that found Phil Jagielka so precisely that the defender, almost comically pinned to the spot by a bear-hug from Barnard barely had to move to nod past the 'keeper from close range.

That should have provided the platform from which Moyes's side would go and kill the tie and the superb move that arrived within minutes of the second goal suggested that now felt more at ease. A neat one-two between Pienaar and Fellaini ended with terrific footwork by the South African but his eventual left-foot effort was saved.

Osman then went agonisingly close to connecting with another excellent Mirallas corner but poor control later let Jelavic down as he was put in for a potential one-on-one duel with Bouzanis, and the Croatian put the best chance over the bar having beaten the offside trap.

Oldham's increased urgency began to show, though, as the second half wore on and were it not for two impressive and vital stops by Howard to deny Smith and substitute Robbie Simpson, the League One side might have scored their second earlier than they did.

Their efforts appeared to be in vain, though, until a last-ditch assault on Everton's goal in stoppage time. As Moyes withdrew Jelavic and added the height of Shane Duffy to his defense, Bouzanis was sent forward to add an additional body to Oldham's arsenal. Though the first corner was successfully repelled by the Blues' defense, the second was delivered right onto Smith's head and with Howard pinned to his line by a crowd of blue jerseys, all the towering forward had to do was guide it onto the target to score.

It's tempting to view this performance through the same prism of the disappointing displays against Swansea, Southampton, Aston Villa and Manchester United but had Everton survived that late bamboozling by Oldham, the emphasis of the post-match analysis would surely have been on the nature of the cup and the paramount importance of just getting through.

Yes, the players could have kept the ball better and they were guilty of not putting the game to bed earlier but apportioning blame to the decision to bring on Duffy in place of Jelavic (leaving Mirallas as the outlet, it shouldn't be forgotten) is misguided to these eyes. At some point you have to credit how the spirit and will of Oldham manifested itself in a dramatic last-gasp goal that was almost indefensible once it was arriving towards Smith's head.

With the replay at Goodison, Everton will have no excuses if they don't progress to the home tie with Wigan Athletic that awaits the victors. If they get the job done as expected, the draw at Boundary Park and the replay it produced will have been a minor inconvenience as opposed to the disaster it represented to the neighbors across Stanley Park last month.

Lyndon Lloyd

Match Summary

As expected, David Moyes has named a strong team, both Nikica Jelavic and Sylvain Distin return to the starting line-up but at the expense of Kevin Mirallas who is on the bench with Oviedo and Naismith. It appears that Fellaini may play a deeper role with Anichebe retaining his place and according to some sources, leading the line up front unless Big Vic is pushed out to the wing!

Jose Baxter plays for Oldham who are unchanged form their previous match against MK Dons. Matt Smith, the destroyer of Liverpool, is on the bench.

Everton kicked off playing in all-white in front of around 10,000 fans crammed into three sides of Boundary Park. Typical FA Cup exchanges and lots of stoppages in the first 5 mins as Phil Dowd excercised his whistle a few times with the ball going out of play and no continuity possible.

Everton won a decent free-kick as Osman was fouled, Gibson playing it wide for Neville to float in an easy cross for Bouzanis. Jelavic wasn't having much luck, playing pretty much as the centre-forward. Meanwhile, Oldham played some long balls forward which were hopeful rather than dangerous.

Osman won another free-kick in a very dangerous position on 12 mins, after good work by the man with the clever feet, but Baines's tremendous kick clipped off a head for a corner by Gibson, followed by another that Oldham cleared and broke like lightening, Osman committing himself to head the ball out but getting fooled by Croft who was off to the races and able to play in a cross low past Neville that beat Gibson rather easily, to Obita at the far post, who tapped in, easy as you like.

A stunning start, but Everton looked unfazed, Jelavic winning a free-kick right out by the corner flag as they continued to get the ball forward. Another free-kick, this time on the left after Baines was chopped down, but nothing came of the play.

A hopeful ball up to Jelavic, headed down well to Anichebe who placed his shot with fearsome power past Bouzanis and into the back of the net: 1 - 1! At the other end, Obita hit the post! Game building nicely into a classic and very competitive FA Cup tie...

Handball was called against Distin challenging for a long ball from the back, giving Oldham a great set-piece chance, and Jose Baxter stepped up, but could not get it through Everton's highly effective wall.

Pienaar came very close to releasing Jelavic through the middle, but called fractionally offside as Pienaar took an extra touch. Oldham were snarling and snapping but the Everton players looked up for it and slowly started to dominate the midfield, controlling the pace of the game, and taking the edge off a little. Fellaini got in a header that was over; Pienaar took a chance to fire from distance that was well wide.

The Blues started to get ball the forward a little more efficiently as the break approached, with a couple of moments where things could have panned differently with a better bounce or touch.

Everton finished the stronger and looked the better side with the ball at their feet but coming to terms with the hard bobbly slopping pitch proved challenging in the first half and they would need to be more dominate and effective in the second half to win this tie.

Anichebe walked off looking at his stomach and shaking his head... Kevin Mirallas replaced him for the second half, with Oldham playing down the slope. Mirallas with an early corner, Jagielka coming backwards, held around the waist, a superb header before being wrestled to the floor, off a brilliant delivery, and a marvellous go-ahead goal.

A great Everton move through the middle was worth a third goal, Pienaar's shot being saved after some excellent quick passing and movement going forward, as the visitors looked to consolidate their lead. But Gibson over-stretched badly and went down. Neville slid in a little hard and was incredulous when Dowd deemed it worthy of the first yellow card.

More good work won another corner as the hour approached, and an absolutely fantastic ball in from Mirallas that Osman missed heading in on the run by about 1 inches. Time, said the Oldham caretaker-manager, to bring on their not-so-secret weapon, Matt Smith, two-goal hero against Liverpool in the previous round, who was generously applauded by the very sporting visiting Everton fans.

It remained a good contest with both sides continuing to attack, but neither dominating despite the obvious gulf in quality on the ball. Jelavic crossed in well from the left but Fellaini(?) could not get his head to it.

15 mins left and corners at either end, as Simpson replaced Obita, with Everton looking solid but needing to remain professional in protecting their precious lead. Pienaar was then replaced by Oviedo, to a chorus of catcalls from the Oldham fans as the South African hobbled off slowly.

Smith got wide behind the Everton defence as Neville criminally ignored his movement off teh call and he took aim, but Howard was down well to divert the ball around the post for a corner. More pressure from the home side into the last 10 minutes but Moyes's men were determined not to let this slip.

A fantastic run through the middle set up Jelavic with a glorious chance to finish it off but, true to form or dreadful lack thereof the Croation leashed his shot inches over the bar when it looked easier to at least hit the target!

A shot from Barnard took a wicked deflection off Jagielka that could have gone anywhere with Howard committed. Simpson got in Howard, one-on-one, a fantastic paried save, and Simpson got a second bite of the cherry, but fired into the side netting, surely three incredible chances gone begging as Everton perhaps lost a little concentration except thankfully for Tim Howard.

4 minutes of added time and a real sterling effort from the home side, applying strong pressure on the Everton defence. A cunning ploy by Moyes, breaking tup the pressure by bringing on Shane Duffy on for Jelavic, but the pressure on the Everton rrearguard continued unrelenting, blls flying across the Everton areuntil they won a corner that Howard ppuched away from Bouzanis, the Oldham keeper! Fantastic stuff as time ticked off, but in the fifth added minuite, abn the ball was bundeled in by guess who Matt Smith, a towereuing header ... Unbelievable!!!

Michael Kenrick

Match Preview

The relentless quest for silverware continues on Saturday with Everton visiting Boundary Park in the 5th Round of the FA Cup, the highest league ground in England, to take on Oldham Athletic.

The inevitable fear of a banana skin lying in wait is balanced by the knowledge that Everton should have enough to bring home the bacon against League 1 opposition. But this is the FA Cup, anything can happen; that's why we play the games...

If the events of last weekend ominous victories for all of the Blues' rivals for fourth place in the Premier League, coupled with the fairly impotent manner in which Everton went down to defeat at Manchester United are any indication, Everton's fortunes, and by consequence their ambitions for the season, appear to have shifted.

With 12 games left and 36 points to play for, it would premature to declare the chase for Champions League football over Chelsea have been remarkably fallible as they lurch through yet another managerial bedding-in period; though improving, inconsistent Arsenal have yet to find any real rhythm; and while Tottenham have developed an annoying habit of winning, they could be due for another rough spell any week now but the performance at Old Trafford, coming a week after the near-calamity against Aston Villa, illustrated that a top-four finish might be too big an ask for a core squad lacking numbers and sufficient quality.

That brings the FA Cup into sharper focus for David Moyes as he prepares for a clash with Oldham Athletic, Everton's fourth successive away cup tie, that will reward the victor with a place in the quarter finals. Though the field is strong this year both Manchester clubs, Chelsea and Arsenal remain the competition offers Moyes the chance to end his 11-year wait for silverware and, with no guarantees that sixth place in the League will be good enough, it could be the Blues' best route into Europe next season.

It also provides the Blues with an opportunity to succeed where Liverpool failed; Oldham stormed into a 3-1 lead over Brendan Rogers' men in the previous round, held on for 3-2 victory, and then drew Everton immediately afterwards. As famous a victory it was for the League One side, it was not enough to save Paul Dickov's job. Already under fire for poor results in the League, the Latics' manager was sacked the week before last. Moyes will be hoping to exploit the upheaval and see his team through with the minimum of fuss.

He may have inadvertently sown a seed of doubt amongst fans and players alike in terms of one of his primary strengths through the years: the constancy of his long-term commitment to the cause and name of Everton Football Club.

Yesterday, he appeared to substantiate the fears many have expressed, that he is seriously thinking of ending his 11-year stint as Manager primarily, it is claimed, because of the incomprehensible failure of the Everton Board to support his desire to strengthen the side in a final bid for 4th place.

That honest statement about not deciding on his future until the summer, until he sees how his team has performed by the end of the season, could ironically crack the fragile edifice of confidence and belief that holds his threadbare side together and has had them "punching above their weight" while hovering consistently between 4th and 6th in the Premier League since early October.

Moyes has said this week that preparation is the key but confidence and self-belief are perhaps Everton's least resilient qualities yet those most needed on a trip to the home of feisty lower leaguers keen to notch up their second successive giant-killing exploit against Merseyside opposition.

Sylain Distin is expected to return after pulling out of of last week's league game at the last minute due to illness, but Victor Anichebe is a doubt due to injury that could force Moyes to bring back misfiring striker Nikica Jelavic, with the height of Fellaini likely to remain a key part of the attack.

In midfield, young proteg Ross Barkley is back from loan at Leeds, but few expect him to play in this crucial game where a mistake could gift the opposition a goal.

In defence, it's assumed that Distin will displace Johnny Heitinga, whose performances have been shockingly poor... but not poor enough for young Shane Duffy to be risked in his place. Duffy expressed frustration this week at not having played a league game for a full calendar year, but seems just as unlikely to break that duck any time soon as Moyes resolutely insists none of his young/academy players are good enough to displace his tried and trusted senior pros. Seamus Coleman and he now almost forgotten Tony Hibbert remain out with injuries.

The only arrival during the ultimately dismal transfer window, fullback John Stones, is cup-tied, having already played in the competition this season for his home club, Barnsley.

Michael Kenrick and Lyndon Lloyd

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Match Preview
Match Summary
Match Report
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OLDHAM (4-4-2)
  Wesolowski (66' Furman)
  Obita (77' Simpson)
  Iwelumo (61' Smith)
  Subs not used

EVERTON (4-5-1)
  Neville booked:55'
  Pienaar (79' Oviedo)
  Anichebe (46' Mirallas)
  Jelavic (90+2' Duffy)
  Subs not used
  Mucha, , , , .
  Bidwell (loan)
  Gueye (loan)
  Hammar (loan)
  Anichebe (injured)
  Coleman (injured)

Cup Scores
Saturday - 5th Round
Luton 0-3 Millwall
Arsenal 0-1 Blackburn
MK Dons 1-3 Barnsley
Oldham 2-2 Everton
4th Round
Chelsea 4-0 Brentford
5th Round
Man City 4-0 Leeds Utd
Huddeersfield 1-4 Wigan
Man Utd 2-1 Reading


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