Latecomer Smith nips in at the death to grab lucrative replay for Oldham
Oldham 2 Everton 2:There is a sign in the gents toilets at Boundary Park that should prepare visitors to expect the unexpected: “Now wash your mouth out.” Certainly Everton were left with a bilious taste after conceding an equaliser in the fifth minute of stoppage time at the end of a humdinger tie.
Oldham, flirting with relegation from League One, were marvellous, raising their game to earn a deserved replay against opponents sixth in the Premier League.
Their hero was again Matt Smith, the latecomer from non-league football who scored twice to see off Liverpool in the last round. This time, half fit and able to manage only half an hour as substitute, the towering targetman used that powerful 6ft 6in frame to level the scores so late there was barely time for the restart.
Oldham took an early lead when the well-travelled Lee Croft supplied a sumptuous pass from right to left to pick out Jordan Obita, whose long sprint culminated in a sidefooted finish at the far post.
Obita, a 19-year-old left-winger on loan from Reading, fired another shot against Tim Howard’s left-hand post, and was a handful for Phil Neville until succumbing to cramp.
Everton equalised midway through the half when Victor Anichebe scored with a resounding drive from 12 yards, and when the Premier League team went 2-1 up after 48 minutes the underdogs seemed to have had their teeth drawn. It was a simple, set-piece goal, Phil Jagielka heading in at the near post from a Kevin Mirallas corner.
Steven Pienaar and Nikica Jelavic had chances to put the issue beyond doubt, but instead Oldham rallied and hit back hard, Howard making top-notch saves to deny Smith and Robbie Simpson before that most dramatic of denouements.
Tony Philliskirk’s charges won successive corners, for which goalkeeper Dean Bouzanis joined the attack and at the second set piece, a left-footed inswinger delivered by Jonathan Grounds, Bouzanis challenged for the ball like a lineout jumper in rugby, provoking chaos in which Smith scored at close range.