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LEIGHTON BAINES is ready to turn FA Cup avenger on Saturday night for Everton FC.
But the Blues defender who has been producing superhero performances all season believes that Everton can help avoid a Cup giant-killing by making sure they strike first at Boundary Park.
Baines was in the Everton team embarrassed by League One Latics at Goodison in 2008. That day the Blues conceded the first goal to Gary McDonald and never recovered in one of the shocks of the third round.
Oldham have already claimed one major scalp this season and Baines warned: “We saw what a tough game that they gave to Liverpool in the last round.
“We played them ourselves a few seasons back and they beat us, so we know what those Cup ties are all about.
“It’s just about getting through. Liverpool will have been aware of what they were in for as well.
“You know you’re going to be playing in difficult conditions and sometimes things don’t go for you, but we’ve just got to go there and be professional.
“You’ve got to make the right decisions and not get caught up in the different style of play which they’ll try and force on the game.
“We need to play our own game and if we can get the first goal then that can make a big difference.”
The tie will see Everton come face to face with a player who still holds a slice of Everton history.
Jose Baxter became the youngest player in Everton’s history just seven months after that FA Cup upset, but on Saturday he will be in Oldham colours plotting his old club’s downfall.
Baines added: “Jose’s a great kid and with no disrespect to Oldham, I expected to be playing against him in the Premier League by now.
“But I think it’s all credit to him that he’s signed for Oldham, because they gave him a chance when he didn’t have a club and that’s a great thing.
“At some point in the future, I’m sure he will be back in the Premier League because he’s got some real talent.”
Everton’s potential fourth-place shoot-out against Tottenham Hotspur, meanwhile, set for April 6, has been switched for live television coverage.
The match, at White Hart Lane, will now take place a day later on April 7 (2.05pm kick-off) for live broadcast by ESPN.
DUBBED ‘Ice Station Zebra’ because it is reputedly the chilliest ground in the whole Football League, Everton’s last trip to Boundary Park in the FA Cup certainly left the Blues feeling cold.
Back in 1990, it took five-and-a-half hours of football, played over three games across three weeks to finally split the sides but it was Second Division Oldham who eventually triumphed.
To make things worse, the Latics were managed by former Everton hero Joe Royle while their winning goal came from another Goodison Park old boy, Ian Marshall.
One player who was to join up again with Royle when he returned to Goodison but was in the Oldham side when they defeated the Blues was Earl Barrett.
The Rochdale-born defender, now 45, remembers the incredible period for the Latics when top flight sides were routinely despatched by Royle’s supposed minnows.
He said: “We’d built up the momentum, a real head of steam, and it was hard to shake us.
“It had taken a couple of seasons but we’d all grown-up together and we weren’t afraid of playing any of the big sides.
“Joe had cherry-picked a number of players who he felt would fit into our style for £10,000 or £20,000 here and there and turned them into top performers. It got to the stage by the end of that season that nobody would sell anyone cheap to us anymore because they knew the gaffer was going to mould and shape them into great players.
“I remember it was a big call for me leaving a massive club like Manchester City to join Oldham but it was the best decision I ever made in football as it enabled me to progress.”
The Blues weren’t the first top flight opponents to be dumped out of a domestic cup competition in Oldham that season – nor were they the last.
At least it took Royle’s men three games to see them off which is more can be said for League Champions Arsenal who were vanquished 3-1 at Boundary Park in the League Cup on November 22 1989.
Southampton were also knocked out 2-0 on January 31 as the Latics made it all the way to Wembley before being beaten 1-0 by Nottingham Forest in the final for what proved to be Brian Clough’s last major piece of silverware.
Barrett said: “We were inspired by playing the likes of Everton.
“They were a massive club who’d been on great cup runs but we were on the crest of a wave.
“The 1989/90 campaign is now referred to as the ‘pinch me’ season at Boundary Park. There were so many great cup games for us that year that I don’t remember too many individual moments too well but I have got a fantastic picture of me out-jumping Graeme Sharp which I e-mailed to Sharpy!”
While a trip to Boundary Park was one of the least desirable away-days on a travelling fan’s calendar, on the day the Blues went to Oldham for their initial FA Cup fifth round tie on February 17 1990, Merseyside football supporters were greeted on the back page of the ECHO with news of plans for a £125million all-seater super stadium on Kirkby Golf Course to be shared by Everton and Liverpool.
However, the plan for the 200-acre development near Junction 6 of the M57, drawn up by a company called Stadium Mersey Ltd and backed in principle by Liverpool City Council, was met with a cool response from officials at both clubs and now, almost a quarter-of-a-century on, they’re still playing at Goodison and Anfield.
More immediate matters saw Everton race into a 2-0 half-time lead at Boundary Park thanks to two goals in the space of five minutes from Tony Cottee (21) and Graeme Sharp (26).
The Latics were handed a lifeline 11 minutes after the restart when according to the ECHO’s Ian Hargraves, Roger Palmer “merely fell over Neville Southall” but London referee Tony Ward pointed to the penalty spot and Andy Ritchie converted his 25th goal of the season.
Oldham then forced a Goodison replay as Palmer headed in a Rick Holden cross on 66 minutes.
The return game on Merseyside was a bad-tempered affair with match official Ward again incurring Evertonians’ wrath by sending off Norman Whiteside.
Hargraves said: “At times the game threatened to degenerate into a running battle with Oldham players going down so frequently from real and imagined challenges that nearly 10 minutes injury time had to be added on.”
Marshall finally broke the deadlock for the visitors 11 minutes into extra-time but Everton forced the tie into a third game when Kevin Sheedy dispatched a penalty five minutes from the end of extra-time.
For the second replay, Oldham moved Marshall from centre-back to centre-forward as Royle adopted a bold 3-4-3 formation but the cavalier approach worked with Latics edging through 2-1 – again after extra-time – with Cottee’s 13th-minute opener being cancelled out by Palmer’s toe-poke past Southall from an under-hit Neil McDonald back pass before Marshall spot-kick finally sealed the tie on 93 minutes.
Barrett said: “Joe picked teams to go out and win, we were very progressive and offensive.
“We had pace at the back so we could afford to really go for it and our audacity caught teams cold.”
SHANE DUFFY has celebrated the anniversary of his last Premier League appearance at Goodison Park, by appealing for more league action – even if it means going out on loan for Everton FC.
The Irish defender was a late substitute when Everton beat Chelsea last February, a run-out which came hot on the heels of three successive starts in league and FA Cup.
But a 93rd-minute cameo at West Ham apart, Duffy hasn’t progressed further than the subs bench. He isn’t prepared to argue with David Moyes, though.
“I haven’t played a league game in a full calendar year now,” he said. “It’s been frustrating. You’ve just got to be patient and I have been patient to be honest.
“I’m just going to wait. I trust the manager, he knows what he’s doing with me so I’m going to let him do the right thing by me. I’m not going to argue with him. Would you? He’s not a man you’d want to argue with!
“Seriously, though, I wouldn’t be anywhere without him. He’s helped me a lot, he’s the one who signed me.”
The Republic of Ireland Under-21 skipper has been on the bench for all but one of Everton’s last nine games.
And Moyes has reassured him that he remains part of his future plans — a point underlined by Duffy’s new three-year contract last September.
But even Johnny Heitinga’s recent dip in form hasn’t been enough to elevate Duffy beyond the bench and the 21-year-old is hoping for another spell on loan to further his football education.
Last season, Duffy clocked up 18 games for Scunthorpe in League One and now believes he is ready to handle regular exposure in The Championship.
He said: “I’m dying to get out really. The manager knows what he’s doing with me. Hopefully he can get me something sorted. Even if I’m staying with Everton, he says I’m not far off.
“I went to League One when I was 19. I think I’m ready now for just below the Premier League.”
Ross Barkley, meanwhile, is back at Goodison after his second loan spell of the season.
The young midfielder made four starts during a month at Leeds United, but Elland Road manager Neil Warnock said: “I spoke to David (Moyes) and Ross and I cannot guarantee playing him and I did say I would do when I took him on board. It is only fair to David and Ross that he gets first team football.”