The Reds progressed past Oldham in to the fourth round of the FA Cup with a score that makes this sound more comfortable and flattering than it actually was. Oldham played their part in this and although I think we deserved to win 3-1 would have been the more deserved score - the fact that the fourth and fifth came in the final minute I guess explains that one as well.
A much changed Reds side took to the pitch with a back four of Kelly, Aurelio (surprisingly fit), Carragher and Coates whilst Shelvey and Gerrard started in midfield with Bellamy and Kuyt up front.
Prior to the game the crowd gave a minute's applause for Gary Ablett who died last week. His family were in the director's box and the chants of One Gary Ablett as we all remembered him will hopefully have given them some comfort at this difficult time.
The first half started with the Reds attacking the Anny Road end which had the lower tier full of Oldham fans. As you would expect Oldham started the game at full pace and were pressing the Reds all over the pitch. They were making sure we had no time to settle on the ball and were first in to every fifty fifty.
On four minutes Kuyt headed over the bar from Bellamy's cross but we were looking rather slow and lethargic in our play.
Oldham were looking dangerous in all of their play and to be honest were troubling Reina far too often for my liking. In some ways this is likely to be down to the defence being new to one another. Coates was looking a bit shocked at the pace of the game whilst Aurelio was probably just excited to be fit and Carragher was made up to get off the bench again.
Oldham actually took the lead and it was a stunning effort from Robbie Simpson. He hit a superb shot from outside the box which left Reina with no chance - no keeper would have got this shot and the warning signs had been there. Their players all raced down to their fans and celebrated - The Reds got the ball to the middle and looked to re-start. Kuyt and Bellamy were both ready but despite no Oldham player being in our half or the centre circle he let them finish celebrating. That certainly wound the two Reds players up because they were ready and eager to get the Reds back in to the game.
As it turned out the Reds hit back with four minutes although it was a bizarre goal for us as Jonjo Shelvey cut inside from the right and shot for goal but it hit Craig Bellamy and flew past Cisak in the Oldham goal. What exactly it hit I'm not sure - think it was his chest but who cares the Reds were back in it now.
Oldham clearly suffered from conceding the goal and sank backwards a little which gave us more space to play. They were nearly made to pay for it in a scramble near goal but as the ball set itself up for Shelvey he fell over in the box and the chance went.
Just on the stroke of half time it did get better though when the Reds were awarded a penalty as a cross in to the box saw Maxi bundled over. The ref had no choice although he seemed to take an age to actually point to the spot. Steven Gerrard grabbed the ball and after two Oldham players either discussed swapping shirts or tried to put him off Gerrard placed the ball down and struck it in to the top right corner of the goal. The keeper had gone the right way but had no chance of saving it.
The goal sent us in at half time with a lead and that was crucial on this kind of night when you have to be sharp. Neither side made half time changes.
Oldham as you would expect came out and had a go in the second half and again put us under pressure but with the lead now ours we relaxed a bit more and played football to show a little superiority.
The away side won a few corners second half but Reina was never overly troubled. Craig Bellamy was the Reds main threat as he time after time went down the right wing to get beyond his man only for the cross to be cut out or the chance missed.
The Reds finally got a third goal thanks to Jonjo Shelvey who came in to the box late and slotted home the pull back from Craig Bellamy. That really settled the tie in truth as I never saw Oldham coming back from two behind.
The Reds made their first switch on seventy minutes when Aurelio was replaced by Flanagan. The Brazilian left back had lasted quite well considering how little he has played.
A few minutes later and three subs came with Oldham making two and the Reds making one. For us Bellamy was replaced by Stewart Downing which was a shame for Bellamy but when you consider the league cup game ahead it made sense.
There was one booking on the night and that came seven minutes from time when Adeyemi hacked Flanagan down late. A clear yellow card offence even considering the lad was still clearly wound up by an incident with the crowd a couple of minutes earlier.
The Reds made their final switch with three minutes to go and Andy Carroll replaced Dirk Kuyt up front. Carroll had only been on just over a minute when he took a ball from Flanagan and struck it beyond the keeper from outside the box to make it four one. It was a tremendous strike and surely one to boost his confidence if it's been going down any.
Carroll actually had an easier chance before the end to make it five when he somehow managed to head over the bar from a perfect cross and was only about four yards from goal.
As it was we did make it five when Stewart Downing finally broke his duck for us by striking home the rebound off a Flanagan shot.
All in all this was a positive result and a couple of players got crucial goals and although the scoreline flattered us a little perhaps we're getting more clinical? Some of our play was still rather slow in it's build up but it did give some of the squad players a good run out and being in the draw for the next round was always the most important.
MotM : Crag Bellamy - he was the spark for us in all the time he was on and the man who struck the fear in to Oldham from an attacking point of view. Jay Spearing again had a good solid game in the midfield too.