The FA Cup has been a much-maligned competition in recent years, with it’s lustre and shine lost in the looming shadow of the financial monolith that is the Champions League.
Yet the competition has been given a well overdue shot in the arm this year, with ties, results and performances harking back to the Cup’s golden years.
Oldham Athletic are a side who have continued to that more than most, making a mockery of the FA Cup betting. The Latics are struggling badly in League One, but caused one of the shocks of the season when they knocked out Liverpool thanks to a 3-2 victory at Boundary Park in round four.
They had the chance to do so again in round five, with Liverpool’s Merseyside neighbours Everton the next visitors to the club.
With a three-sided ground, a swirling wind, a boggy pitch and expectant live TV cameras, all the ingredients were there for an upset.
It certainly looked that way when the Latics hit Everton with a rapid counter-attack, Jordan Obita tapping home after good work down the right by Lee Croft.
Everton though are a side built in the image of their determined manager David Moyes and they were not going to lie down easily. The Toffees hauled themselves level ten minutes later when Victor Anichebe shrugged off two defenders before blasting home a rocket of a shot into the back of the net.
The atmosphere was further deflated when Phil Jagielka headed the Premier League side in front five minutes into the second half.
However, Oldham rallied themselves once more and in substitute Matt Smith they had a human battering ram to aim for in the penalty area.
The 6 foot 6in former Manchester University student, who was close to giving up the game altogether a few years ago, helped inspire a late rally as Oldham piled the pressure on Tim Howard’s goal.
The American goalkeeper made two crucial stops that looked to have ended the Latics’ resistance, with the match ticking over into the fourth and final minute of stoppage time.
However, a corner curled into a crowded penalty area was met by the head of Smith, who powered home the most of dramatic of equalisers to keep Oldham’s dreams alive.
At the very least it secures a money-spinning replay for a club so poor they asked their players not to give away their shirts at the end of the game – their hefty odds over at Bet Victor certainly suggests Everton should find things easier at Goodison Park. At the very best, however, it is the chance to create yet another chapter in the FA Cup’s long and glorious history a week on Wednesday.