Oldham produce stunning giant-killing act at Everton

Everton 0 Oldham 1

Everton 0 Oldham 1

Oldham produced a stunning giant-killing act to achieve arguably their finest result since they were in the top flight 14 years ago.

Oldham, who beat Everton in a remarkable three-game tie back in 1990 when only Manchester United stopped them getting to Wembley in the semi-finals, have been in the doldrums since those great days under Joe Royle.

Now in League One, they stunned Everton, with Scottish midfielder Gary McDonald cracking an impressive 20-yard winner in the first half.

From then on John Sheridan’s side battled for every inch of Goodison Park and fully deserved this victory.

Everton boss David Moyes may well have put out a much-changed side with seemingly bigger matches to come, but he could not have expected to see his team embarrassed to this extent.

With Tuesday’s Carling Cup semi-final at Chelsea in mind, Moyes started this third-round tie without Tim Howard, Phil Neville, Ayegbeni Yakubu, Nuno Valente and Joleon Lescott as well as the injured Tim Cahill, Leon Osman and Joseph Yobo. Mikel Arteta was suspended.

Stefan Wessels started in goal while Alan Stubbs returned from injury and James Vaughan started up front.

Oldham had been hit by injuries and loan players returning to their clubs. Neil Kilkenny went back to Birmingham and Ryan Bertrand to Chelsea last week.

The pair have now been loaned to Leeds and Norwich respectively, leaving Sheridan’s squad considerably weakened, despite Mark Crossley and Lee Hughes passing late fitness tests.

A chip shop fire opposite the main stand delayed the start for 30 minutes, with many fans unable to get into the ground.

Once the game got going, Everton made the livelier start. They should have been ahead inside a minute when Vaughan was clear in the box, only for veteran goalkeeper Crossley to save at his feet.

Stubbs nodded an inviting ball across the six-yard box soon after, with Andrew Johnson not quick enough to take advantage of the glorious chance.

Then Vaughan’s control created the space for James McFadden to drive just wide from 10 yards out.

But Oldham survived that early burst and started to get forward themselves, with Hughes and Craig Davies prominent.

When Wessels flapped badly at a right-wing cross, both Hughes and Davies had chances to punish the German goalkeeper as the ball fell in the six-yard box on 27 minutes.

Hughes then fired an angled drive wide of the far post, with Everton looking rattled and making mistakes.

Oldham were determined and confident, and Deane Smalley was allowed far too much time to control the ball before producing a hook shot that brought the best out of Wessels, pushing the ball past his left-hand post at full stretch.

When Everton did start putting their game together, it took a goal-line clearance from Kelvin Lomax to keep out a McFadden drive on 41 minutes.

But in first-half injury time McDonald struck an excellent goal to give Oldham the lead, sending their 6,000 travelling support wild.

In the early stages of the second period, Oldham continued to hold Everton at bay, a long-range free-kick from Lee Carsley that flashed over was all the hosts could muster.

In the end Moyes had to throw on the heavy mob, Yakubu and Victor Anichebe replacing Vaughan and Thomas Gravesen on 64 minutes to beef up Everton’s front line.

Oldham had defended manfully to this point, but they knew that it was going to be a barrage from here on as Everton fought to get back into the tie.

But still battling displays from Reuben Hazell, Stefan Stam and Jean Paul Kalala kept Oldham ahead.

Anichebe and Yakubu both missed in the six-yard box before Moyes threw on Lescott with 16 minutes to go in place of Leighton Baines – anything now to try to change the course of the game as Oldham edged nearer and nearer their miracle.

Anichebe was not quick enough to get on the end of a hooked cross from McFadden, but Everton were still making errors, giving the ball away, and seeing Oldham hit them on the break.

Hughes ran Stubbs ragged as Oldham looked for an unlikely second, and with six minutes left they sent on John Thompson for Lomax, fresh legs to keep Everton out.

Yakubu hit the post in injury time, but that was as close as a distraught Everton got.

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