Matt Smith rescued a dramatic 2-2 draw for Oldham against Everton at Boundary Park to earn an FA Cup fifth round replay.
The 6ft 6in striker, who produced an all-action display to score twice in Latics’ round four triumph over Liverpool, was at it again with a towering header deep in stoppage time having stepped off the bench just after the hour mark.
Jordan Obita gave the League One strugglers the lead but the 2009 FA Cup runners-up and last season’s semi-finalists struck back thanks to goals from Victor Anichebe and Phil Jagielka before Smith’s late intervention.
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The home side started on the front foot and stunned their opponents by taking the lead after 13 minutes. Lee Croft made the initial break down the right after a poor challenge by Leon Osman before his low measured ball into the box was slotted into the back of the net by on-loan Reading midfielder Obita.
However, Everton struck back 11 minutes later as Anichebe cleverly collected Nikica Jelavic’s knock down by nudging Jean Yves Mvoto off the ball and smashing his shot beyond Dean Bouzanis.
Moments later, the Latics came close to restoring their lead when the lively Obita saw his effort narrowly tipped on to the far post by Tim Howard.
The Toffees went ahead three minutes after the interval thanks to a rare goal from Jagielka. Kevin Mirallas’ corner kick was headed home from close range by the England defender after some poor defending by Lee Barnard and a woeful attempt at a punch by goalkeeper Bouzanis.
Everton were intent on driving home their advantage and some deft interplay between Steven Pienaar and Marouane Fellaini saw the former bring Bouzanis into the action once more.
Another Mirallas corner had Oldham in trouble before the hour, arching past the massed ranks at the near post and narrowly evading Leon Osman.
Caretaker manager Tony Philliskirk then sent on the 23-year-old Manchester University business management graduate Smith onto the field.
In the 89th minute Robbie Simpson had a glorious chance to earn a replay as he shrugged off the attentions of Phil Neville to collect James Tarkowski’s wonderfully-weighted lofted pass, but Howard stopped a shot that lacked purchase before seeing the rebound lashed into the side netting.
However, Smith had the last laugh as he sent the home fans into ecstasy after climbing above his own goalkeeper in the visitors’ box to head Jonathan Grounds’ corner in the fourth and final frantic minute of stoppage time.
1st Half Goals
Shots on Target
Shots off Target
1st Half Poss.
2nd Half Poss.
The Bees suffered an early setback through Michael Rankine’s opener, although David Stephens may have got the final touch to turn the ball into his own goal, but strikes from Andy Yiadom and Jake Hyde sealed the win that moved them two points clear of the drop zone and into 20th place in the table.
“I’m very pleased, sometimes you have to win ugly,” said Davids.
“We started off not very sharp and after that we controlled the game. Second half we didn’t control the game but we showed character and sometimes when you don’t have the ability to play the ball, like we did the last three games, then you have to switch to another mode and luckily we did.
“They started off very well and we got punished. The pitch was slippery and wobbly but they had the same problems so there is no excuse from either team.
“The goal before half-time was very important. If not then they would have had more confidence and they can rest and you have to go bomb on forward looking for the goal. With the goal we had an equal opportunity and luckily we got the win. I’m very happy the spirit is like this at the moment.”
The Cobblers had taken the lead when former Shrimpers loanee Roy O’Donovan hooked home and they looked to be cruising towards victory when Bilel Mohsni was sent off for a foul on Chris Hackett.
However, Matthew Lund, who was making his Shrimpers debut after signing on loan from Stoke, headed home a right-wing corner from Kevan Hurst to level matters.
Northampton then survived some scares and stole it right at the death when captain Kelvin Langmead headed home from close range in the 90th minute.
“If you are going to win a game and not play particularly well that is how you do it,” said Boothroyd.
“I thought overall we deserved it but I’m sure Paul Sturrock thinks his team could win it too.
“When a team goes down to 10 men everyone seems to get a new energy level and the team with 11 think it is going to be easy and take their foot off the gas, and I believe that is what we did.
“But, thankfully, we were able to grind it out and the long throws, which are getting us a lot of goals this season, came up trumps to help us win a tough game.”
The visitors went ahead through a Danny Rose strike after 23 minutes, but Kaid Mohamed’s introduction sparked Cheltenham’s revival and Paul Benson looped a header over Shots keeper Jamie Young midway through the second half for the equaliser.
Aldershot were then forced to hold on with defender Anthony Tonkin picking up a second yellow card 17 minutes from time.
“It’s a tough place to come,” said Holdsworth. “Cheltenham are a good team with some good players, so we have to be pleased with a point.
“It showed that we have some character and some resilience in the side. It was a big test and they have put in a massive shift.
“I told the players to make it a big week with a home game against Torquay coming up which will be our next cup final.”
Tonkin’s dismissal followed two fouls on former Aldershot winger Jermaine McGlashan.
“The thing is I know Jermaine very well and I know what he does,” Holdsworth added.
“There was nothing Anthony could do – he just stood there. The problem is that the referee has not played the game. Jermaine wins you a lot of fouls and that’s the game. We’re grateful that we’ve not suffered too much.”
Preston sacked manager Graham Westley in midweek and installed John Dreyer as caretaker after the club had won just once in League One since November.
But Stuart Beavon lifted the gloom with a fine strike after 19 minutes and Bailey Wright doubled the lead before the break to end leaders Bournemouth’s run of five successive wins.
“It is difficult,” said Howe. “We weren’t at our best there is no doubt about that, we were second best, which is really difficult for me to say because it hasn’t happened yet.
“This is the first time. We were slow out of the traps, we conceded two poor goals, we never really had any concerted pressure on their goal and I think we have to try and forget this as quickly as possible.
“We have to learn from it and analyse it, which we will, but we have some massive games coming up which will define our season, so we are going to look to that and try and put this one to bed quickly.
“You can look to a combination of factors, we have had a lot of travelling, we have had a lot of games, we have some tired bodies.
“It was a really poor pitch again, it was the same for both sides and we didn’t adapt to it. I’m not looking for excuses but we have to move on.”