Super-sub Smith back in business

Oldham 2 Everton 2

The giant Oldham striker, 23, sustained a dislocated shoulder on that memorable day at Boundary Park and had been absent from his team’s attempts to stay in League One ever since.

There was plenty of opportunity to discuss how he turned his back on a career in business after graduating from Manchester University, where he was friends with comedian Jack Whitehall.

The 3-2 victory over the Reds in the last round may have long-term effects in the careers of Martin Skrtel, dropped after being battered by Smith, and Sebastian Coates, who has not been seen since.

But against Everton Smith, compared to Didier Drogba by Brendan Rodgers, came off the bench with his team trailing 2-1 to show that display was not a flash in the pan as one of the best defences in the Premier League could not prevent him from forcing in an equaliser in stoppage time.

“I really felt that when I came on we could get something, we could nick it,” Smith said. “The last three weeks have been indescribable, absolutely mental. To come from absolute obscurity in a football sense to having your name in headlines is pretty overwhelming.

“The reception I have had from fans, from people around the club and also my close friends and family means a lot to me. I am happy I’ve made them proud.

“I fancy my chances against anyone in the air. It is not just my height but my positioning I think. It has improved a lot since I first started and I do fancy my chances against anyone.

“This is my second season with full-time football and it has been a big adjustment from being part-time and having a university lifestyle. But it is nice when things come together like this.”

Chairman Simon Corney is used to fielding questions about the financial implications of his team’s FA Cup run but recalls how pricey Oldham’s last trip to Goodison Park in 2008 came to be.

Afraid of seeing his team hammered, Corney decided to stick with plans to attend a conference in Las Vegas and has regretted it ever since.

“Thinking we were going to lose about 9-0, I decided I would be too upset to go and watch us lose and went to the conference instead and I’ve never really forgiven myself for it,” Corney said.

“I had a friend on the phone for the whole 90 minutes and I remember getting my phone bill when I got back and it was about $3000 because the minutes weren’t cheap then.”

Saturday’s game had started well for Oldham, when on-loan Reading winger Jordan Obita turned in from Lee Croft’s mis-hit shot.

However, Victor Anichebe’s powerful strike from a Nikola Jelavic knock-down pulled Everton level before Phil Jagielka looked to have finished the job when he headed in from a Kevin Mirallas corner, only for Smith to make the difference once again.

Amid reported interest from Chelsea, David Moyes, whose contract expires in the summer, revealed on Friday that he may put off a decision on his future until the end of the season. But Jagielka insists the Everton squad are not preoccupied by the manager’s situation.

“It will be nice to give him a quick reminder of how good we are by keeping this cup run going and pushing as high as we can up the Premier League,” the England defender said.

“If we do win the cup and he doesn’t sign, it will still be a fantastic feat for the players. We are a very close squad and we get on very well. As much as we go out there to do it for the manager, we do it for each other as well.”

OLDHAM (4-4-2): Bouzanis 7; Brown 6, M’Voto 6, Tarkowski 7, Grounds 7; Croft 8, Wesolowski 7 (Furman 66), Baxter 8, Obita 8 (Simpson 77, 6); Barnard 6, Iwelumo 6 (Smith 61, 8).

EVERTON (4-4-2): Howard 7; Neville 6, Jagielka 7, Distin 7, Baines 6; Osman 7, Gibson 5, Fellaini 6, Pienaar 7 (Oviedo 79); Anichebe 7 (Mirallas 46, 7), Jelavic 5 (Duffy 90).

Booked: Neville .

Referee: Phil Dowd.

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