We always knew we’d rout someone, someday. Liverpool progress to the fourth round of the FA Cup with an emphatic 5-1 victory again Oldham Athletic. Robbie Simpson gave the visitors a shock lead with a 30 yard smash but the it lasted for only 66 seconds as goals from Bellamy, Gerrard, Shelvey, Carroll and even Stewart Downing gave the Anfield faithful something to sing about. Despite the Latics being 56 places below us in the league standings, the gulf in class wasn’t quite as wide as one would expect and even with the scoreline suggesting otherwise, some nervy moments kept both set’s of fans on edge.
Superb might the word of the day, but it was starting to look like a spelling mistake when some absurd defending by the returning Jamie Carragher and the stuttering Sebastian Coates allowed veteran striker Shefki Kuqi a beautiful opportunity to put the visitors ahead. After nutmegging Carragher, a square pass for Robbie Simpson would of allowed for the easiest goal you’ll see, but the burly Fin had a nostalgic moment of greed and instead took the shot himself sending the ball whistling into the side netting.
With Gary Ablett’s family in the stands, it wouldn’t be long before they saw the team he used to defend for go behind. After a bit of back and forth, with Oldham oddly looking the better of the two sides, Robbie Simpson had a half volley that on most days wouldn’t have come within a quarter mile of the net fly into the top corner over a diving Pepe Reina.
Taking the lead, at Anfield no less, may have been a bit of a shock to for the visitors but they wouldn’t need to worry about it for long as an immediate response was on the way. Jonjo Shelvey, making his first start since impressing against Aston Villa, would be the dangerman as his shot-cum-cross deflected in off the chest of Craig Bellamy. The Welshman may have gotten credit for the goal having provided the crucial touch but the youngster would have his time soon enough.
Gerrard provided the go ahead, as he commonly does, when his first half stoppage time penalty ricocheted in off the underside of the crossbar after Maxi Rodriguez was manhandled in the box by Tom Adeyemi. Correct me if I’m wrong but I believe that’s the first time this season we’ve seen a shot hit the post and actually go in but either way going into the break with the lead was vital for what was to come.
Oldham boss Paul Dickov said before the match that he would look to get under the skin of the Reds the same way he used to do to defenders during his playing days. Despite seeing his side down at the halfway mark, you can pretty much say it was mission accomplished. The organization of the Oldham backline was quite astounding considering their current league position and their frequent and often dangerous foray’s forward showed that the manager knew exactly what he was doing.
A few off-target attempts from Robbie Simpson and a handful of nervy corners later, the marvel of the Kop would add that essential two goal cushion when Jonjo Shelvey bundled in a low cross from a marauding Craig Bellamy. It would be the English international’s first goal for the club since his £1.7mil move from Charlton Athletic two years ago. Starts have been few and far between for the youngster, but a performance like that almost guarantee’s we’ll see more of him as the glut of January matches begins to take it’s toll.
Even though Luis Suarez was watching from the stands, the issue of racial abuse would rear it’s ugly, unwelcome head yet again when an incident involving Tom Adeyemi and the fans closest to him left the midfielder in tears. Although there has been no official word as to what happened, the knee-jerk reaction from the media and a number of Twitter users are obviously painting it as a race issue with Adeyemi being of African descent. The BBC, as well as and many locals who have actually called Merseyside police, has confirmed that no arrests have been made for racially aggravated behaviour but both the club as well as the bizzies would be pursuing the matter further.
Now, with all of that hopefully behind us, we can enter bizzaro land and discuss both Andy Carroll and Stewart Downing not only scoring — at Anfield no less— but both doing so from the bench. Birthday boy Carroll was tossed on almost as an afterthought for the poor Dirk Kuyt in the 87th minute. With another visit to the Etihad Stadium coming sooner rather than later, Dalglish knew the striker would need a stroll in the grass before diving in head-first, but blast from the top of the box gave Liverpool their 4th goal and a reminder of what Andy could do with his left foot.
With the Kop singing his name for a change, the ponytailed one almost made it a brace but headed wide from a Stewart Downing cross. With time petering out and the strains of You’ll Never Walk Alone ringing out, Downing would finally find the net with a nice as you’d like volley after fellow substitute Jon Flanagan’s shot was saved. The winger has endured a torrid time in front of goal since his move from Aston Villa in the summer and the relief on his face was readily apparent as he rushed to celebrate in front of the home support.
We’ve been saying for months that sooner or later we were going to dismember a team, and today it finally came to be. Five goals from five different players and it might have only been Oldham, but it was worth the wait. Kenny wasn’t exaggerating when he said the scoreline flattered us, but after losing 3-0 to City last week, it’s hard to be overly critical of a side who was lacking in confidence restoring their winning edge.
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