Updated: Tuesday, 7th July 2020 @ 11:04pm

'One of hardest games': Former Latic Andy Barlow recalls Oldham Athletic's last home cup clash against Everton

'One of hardest games': Former Latic Andy Barlow recalls Oldham Athletic's last home cup clash against Everton

Exclusive by Matthew Lees

The last time Everton travelled to Boundary Park to play Oldham Athletic in the FA Cup fifth round, Nelson Mandela was being released from prison and Britain was resuming diplomatic relations with Argentina after the Falklands War.

Latics were challenging on three fronts – the FA Cup, the League Cup and in Division Two, when they met Everton in a marathon FA Cup trilogy 23 years ago.

Former Latic Andy Barlow recalls the clash – played twice at Boundary Park and once at Goodison Park – before Oldham eventually triumphed after three-and-a-half hours of football containing nine goals, controversial decisions and ex-Toffee Ian Marshall scoring the winner in extra time.

And Barlow believes the 2-2 draw in the replay was one of the toughest games for Latics legend Andy Barlow.

“The away game was really difficult.” Barlow, 47, told MM.

“Goodison Park was full of atmosphere and the game was very physical against a team people forget how good they were back then.

“That was one of the hardest games we had to face.”

While Everton were still fresh from winning two league titles and a European trophy, Barlow admitted he and his teammates were confident of beating the Toffees.

“Coming back to BoundaryParkwe didn’t take the opposition lightly but we fancied it,” added the former left-back.

“When you’re on a run, what happens is, it can build up confidence playing two games a week. The more you win that breeds confidence.

“We didn’t want to be turned over and our belief was high after the 6-0 [the League Cup semi-final first leg against West Ham].

“Why couldn’t we be in two finals?”

More than 19,000 people packed into Boundary Park as Everton’s Tony Cottee scored but Roger Palmer levelled before Marshall’s 93rd minute penalty eventually knocked out another giant, to go with Arsenal and Southampton

“We had belief in our team so it was job done, move onto the next game,” said Barlow, with 308 Oldham apperances.

“We already had one foot in a cup final so it was a great opportunity to get to cup final appearances at Wembley.”

A coin toss decided the location of the third instalment of the mammoth tie, which Oldham won and elected to go home with their much-criticised plastic pitch but Barlow insists it played no role.

“We could play football even off the plastic pitch, look at the away record at the best in the League,” added Barlow who went on to play for Blackpool and Rochdale.

“It was psychological playing mind games on the other teams as they were not sure what the pitch was like.

“It you could control and pass the ball it was fine. If you had no first touch, couldn’t pass or control the ball that’s when you were really found out.”

The 1989/90 season unfortunately ended after 65 games in disappointment with Oldham missing out on promotion and losing in both the FA Cup final and League Cup final.

The PFA regional coach, who spent 11 seasons at BoundaryPark, was distraught at missing out especially in the 1990 FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United at Maine Road.

“We didn’t just have a foot in the door it was almost fully shut. It was just one of them situations,” he said.

“We didn’t get tired as a team but it probably cost us promotion.”

Latics fans are once again coming down with a case of cup fever, but with Oldham struggling in League One relegation would be a nasty side effect according to Barlow.

“The cup is a nice distraction, however, when we got beat by Manchester United in 1994, exiting out of the cup finished our season and it became a long, long battle,” he commented.

“Even if Latics go two rounds further and then go out it will mean nothing as success is staying in League One.

“Whatever the outcome make sure in the next game they show how they beat Liverpool. It will be a tough ask though.”

Image courtesy of The FA, via YouTube, with thanks.

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