Everton v Latics
Latics’ great adventure in the FA Cup with Budweiser came to an end following their 3-1 defeat at Everton in their fifth-round replay.
While brave Latics were beaten, they were able to leave Goodison Park with heads held high after giving another gutsy display.
It was something which had epitomised Latics on a remarkable journey which had seen them beat non-league Kidderminster Harriers, Doncaster Rovers, Nottingham Forest and Liverpool to provide a feel-good glow for fans.
This time Latics, the lowest-ranked team still left in the FA Cup, came up short, though the 4,000 travelling fans had something to cheer, another Matt Smith goal, his fourth in his last three cup appearances.
Caretaker Manager Tony Philliskirk found plenty of positives to take from the way his side acquitted itself against a top six Premier League club.
He said: "I think the town, the club and everybody should be proud of the players because I am for what they have achieved.
"I was very proud of the players, especially for the way they played in the second half. They ought to take a lot of confidence and positives from that into our forthcoming league games.
"We conceded our third goal when, ironically we were having our best spell, and it would have been easy to crumble after that.
"Matt scored his goal and we played some lovely stuff. It would have been interesting if we had got another."
Philliskirk was disappointed with the defending for the goals saying they made it easier than it should have been for Everton.
He pointed out two came from crosses, which they had been working on defending, adding they were scored by Kevin Miralles and Leon Osman who, ironically, were two of the smallest players on the pitch.
And he described the penalty, which was scored by Leighton Baines, as being needlessly conceded.
Philliskirk played the side which kicked off Saturday’s home npower League One match against Portsmouth. That included Jean-Yves M’voto who had been sent home unwell on Monday but had recovered as had his central-defensive partner James Tarkowski from the tight hamstring which forced him off in the dying minutes against Portsmouth.
The unchanged line up meant Smith, scorer of two goals against Liverpool and the last-gasp equaliser against Everton at Boundary Park, was on the bench as was James Wesolowski who had recovered from the tight hamstring which kept him out of Saturday’s game.
Latics made a steady start and weren’t troubled before Everton made the breakthrough after quarter of hour.
Darron Gibson fired over a low cross from the right and Miralles reacted quickest darting to the near post to fire low past keeper Dean Bouzanis.
One of the defining moments of the match came seconds later when Jose Baxter was denied by the inside of the upright as he bent a shot from the edge of the box past keeper Tim Howard. Had that gone in, it might have been a different game.
Both sides had penalty shouts – Latics for a handball against Gibson and Everton for Tarkowski for holding back Nikica Jelavic.
Latics’ keeper Dean Bouzanis also pulled off a terrific save to turn a goalbound drive from Baines around the post for a corner.
Everton doubled their lead after winning a free kick when Connor Brown unwittingly handled a cross Seamus Coleman and Baines squeezed his shot kick past Bouzanis despite the best efforts of the keeper to save the kick.
Latics needed a spark and that was provided 10 minutes into the second half when Philliskirk brought on Smith and Robbie Simpson for Chris Iwelumo and Jordan Obita.
Smith soon sprayed a delightful crossfield ball to release Brown who in turn set up Lee Croft who crashed a drive narrowly wide,
The completely against the run of play, Everton scored a third goal in the 62nd minute when Osman scored his 50th career goal for the Toffees as he glanced a header from Steven Pienaar’s left-wing cross past Bouzanis.
Smith gave Latics’ vast travelling army something to cheer when he found the net from another well executed dead ball.
Jonathan Grounds delivered a delightful inswinging corner into the six yards. Again Everton couldn’t cope as Smith headed home from close range.
Gibson had a great chance to kill off Latics, but blazed over with the goal at his mercy.
Latics, to their credit, kept battling to the end and in stoppage time Smith, who again made himself a nuisance, forced Toffees’ keeper Tim Howard into stretching save.
Though Latics lost, they were winners in the eyes of the travelling fans who stayed long after the final whistle to show their appreciation.
Everton (4-4-1-1): Howard; Coleman, Distin, Jagielka, Baines; Miralles (Naismith 84), Gibson, Neville, Pienaar (Hitzlsperger 90); Osman; Jelavic. Subs (not used): Mucha, Heitinga, Oviedo, Vellios, Duffy.
Latics (4-4-2): Bouzanis; Brown Wesolowski 76), Tarkowski, M’voto, Grounds; Croft, Furman, Baxter, Obita (Simpson 55); Barnard, Iwelumo (Smith 55): Subs (not used): Cisak, Millar, Winchester, Mellor.
The goals: Miralles (15), Baines (34 pen), Osman (62) for Everton. Smith (64) for Latics.
Booking: Simpson (86) for Latics.
Referee: Mr M Oliver.