Liverpool crashed out of the FA Cup after losing 3-2 to Oldham Athletic at Boundary Park. An early goal from Matt Smith put the Latics ahead but Luis Suarez was quick to put the sides back on even terms. Smith grabbed a second just before half time and Reece Wabara scored Oldham’s third at the start of the second period. Joe Allen made it 3-2 but Liverpool could not find an equaliser.
Brendan Rodgers opted with Suarez as captain of a very young Liverpool side whose average age of the ten outfield players was only 22. Oldham came out very attacking, a tactic which paid off very early on in the game.
With just over two minutes gone, a miss-hit volley from Lee Croft found its way to Youssouf M’changama on the left wing. He swung a ball into the middle and Matt smith met it with a directed header. The effort sent Jones the wrong way and Martin Skrtel’s last-ditch clearance attempt was not enough to prevent Oldham taking a very early 1-0 lead.
Fazed by the home side’s fiery start, Liverpool failed to find any sort of rhythm in the first ten minutes. Raheem Sterling went into the book after a late challenge on M’changama, the Oldham midfielder unable to continue from injury.
Jones recovered a save after spilling it into the path of Robbie Simpson, but the forward left his foot in after lunging for the ball. Both Jones and Skrtel were unhappy with the challenge, which resulted in Simpson getting booked.
The Reds began to play at a decent tempo and when Suarez strode into the attacking half. He aimed a ball towards Borini but Byrne turned it back into the path of Suarez. The striker knocked it into the box and smashed a low shot past Dean Bouzanis, levelling the score after 16 minutes.
Wabara jumped into a tackle on Suarez on the left side of the pitch and conceded a free-kick on the edge of the box. Jordan Henderson curled the ball into the area and Suarez flicked the ball with his head into the back of the head. The linesman’s flag went up however, denying Liverpool the lead.
After capitalising on a shaky start from their opponents, the Latics’ tempo slowed and Liverpool were able to create more chances. Sterling almost gave his team the lead when Borini played him through with a wonderful first-time flick, but Bouzanis made a comfortable save from the midfielder’s tame effort.
Jose Baxter had Jones worried when he released a low shot from 30 yards towards the bottom left corner. Jones didn’t reach the ball but it swerved the wrong side of the post. Smith tested Jones to punch the ball over when his header looked as if it was dipping under the bar.
As the first half was coming to an end, Oldham pushed the ball into attack. Wabara put in a low cross that Jones should have collected easily, but he fumbled the ball into the path of Simpson. He hammered the ball towards goal and Smith was left with a tap-in, giving his side a 2-1 lead at half time.
The Liverpool players were angry that the goal stood because they felt that Sturridge was fouled in the build-up. The Reds raced out at the first of the second half and Borini was presented with a golden chance to level the scores after seconds of the restart. The Oldham defenders failed to pick up Borini but his first time effort from close-range spun over the bar.
Athletic were also hungry for more goals and Carl Winchester turned Sterling with ease on the left wing and hit a high cross. Wabara met the cross with a header that looped over Jones and into the goal off the underside of the bar. The home side, 3-1 up just after the restart, were playing with the confidence of a team keen to cause an upset.
As the minutes ticked by, Liverpool attempted to move the ball into attack with growing urgency. The introduction of Steven Gerrard and Stuart Downing allowed the Reds to push Oldham’s back line but the home side left hardly any room for manoeuvre. Gerrard had several shots blocked and the Oldham defence were throwing themselves at anything that came their way.
It became harder to control the ball on a very slippery surface after a second half downpour. Oldham had the opportunity to close the game out when Baxter received the ball with just Jones to beat. The striker hit a volley first-time but his effort trickled wide.
With just over ten minutes left, the ball fell to Joe Allen after a half-cleared corner. Allen smashed a first-time volley towards goal and after taking a big deflection off Baxter, the ball planted in the bottom right corner, making the score 3-2.
Liverpool were relentless in attack after their second goal, desperately trying to locate an equaliser. The home side were quick to clear their lines but the Reds fired the ball straight back at them. Gerrard released a fierce shot from 20 yards which cleared Bouzanis but crashed off the cross bar.
Urgency became desperation for Liverpool as they frantically searched for a goal. They were wasteful with possession in attack and could not find an equaliser. Oldham held on long enough to confirm a big upset as well as progression into the fifth round of the FA Cup.