11 min United have been really scruffy in possession. Hughes keeps getting caught offside, and their playmaker Webb has barely touched the ball. He’s nowhere near the pace of the game.
10 min The first signs of life from United. A long goalkick from Leighton is headed on by Hughes towards Gibson, and Andy Holden comes across to make a tremendous last-ditch challenge on the edge of the area.
8 min United are behind for the first time in this season’s FA Cup. They don’t have the happiest memories of this ground, either, having been plugged 5-1 in the derby last September.
7 min Bruce is penalised for a foul on Ritchie. There have been some crunching tackles all over the pitch.
7 min The replays of the goal aren’t conclusive on the Barrett offside, though my hunch is that he was onside when the cross came him. One thing that replays do confirm is that Leighton should have done better. He was under pressure from Ritchie, it’s true, but it was still a pretty straightforward take for a keeper of his class.
GOAL! Oldham 1-0 Manchester United (Barrett 6)
David has landed another one on Goliath: Oldham have taken the lead! It came from that corner on the right, which was headed back to the taker Holden. His awkward cross bounced through Leighton at the near post, and Barrett – in splendid isolation, with a whiff of offside – tapped it into the open net from four yards! His centre-back partner Andy Holden gives him a peck on the cheek in celebration. What a start for Oldham!
5 min A big scare for United! Ritchie’s cross from the right led to a mix-up between Leighton and Phelan, who was spooked by the hot breath of Rick Holden behind him. In the end Phelan knocked the ball past the outrushing Leighton and just wide of his own goal.
4 min In the build-up to this game, Alex Ferguson said that Oldham are one of the quickest teams in England, and that they would try to win the game in the first half hour. His prediction looks right; it has been a seriously frantic start to this game.
3 min Bryan Robson, who doesn’t really understand the concept of feeling your way back after injury, introduces himself to Andy Ritchie with a ferocious man-and-ball tackle. “The ball must have squealed!” says the BBC commentator Barry Davies with a squeal of his own.
2 min United are playing with Mike Phelan at right-back, Brian McClair on the right of midfield and Neil Webb much further forward, just behind Mark Hughes. Oldham are in their expected 4-4-2 shape.
There’s another reason why so many people fancy United today: the match is being played on grass. All Oldham’s giant-killings have taken place on the plastic pitch at Boundary Park, which is also where they’ve picked up 42 of their 57 league points.
But they also played well in drawing away to Everton and Southampton before finishing them off in a replay, and Graham Taylor and George Graham – whose Villa and Arsenal sides were hammered at Boundary Park – both said it had diddly squat to do with the pitch.
Alex Ferguson has gambled big-time by picking both Neil Webb and Bryan Robson. Webb has started only one league game since August. Robson hasn’t played any first-team football since Christmas.
Oldham make one change from their defeat at Leicester in the week, with Jon Hallworth replacing Andy Rhodes in net.
Oldham (4-4-2) Hallworth; Irwin, Barrett, A Holden, Barlow; Redfearn, Milligan, Henry, R Holden; Ritchie, Marshall.
Subs: Palmer, Warhurst.
Man Utd (4-4-1-1) Leighton; Phelan, Pallister, Bruce, Martin; McClair, Ince, Robson, Gibson; Webb; Hughes.
Subs: Wallace, Robins.
Referee Joe Worrall
Hello and welcome to live coverage of After the Lord Mayor’s Show. The greatest match in FA Cup history ended a few minutes ago, with Crystal Palace beating Liverpool 4-3 in an absolute astonisher at Villa Park. Spare a thought for the players of Oldham and Manchester United, who have the impossible task of trying to replicate the drama when they kick off at Maine Road.
As if they’ll give a flying Fibonacci about that! A place in the FA Cup final is at stake, for goodness sake, and both teams would happily take the ugliest 1-0 win in history. Especially United. The FA Cup has become an obsession for them and their hapless manager Alex Ferguson, who was on the brink of the sack at the start of their cup run. If they lose today, he’ll be back on the brink.
United haven’t been to Wembley since Ferguson took over in 1986. Oldham’s last trip was minus 21 days ago: they will play Nottingham Forest in the Littlewoods Cup final at the end of the month. They’ve been stealing the headlines ever since Frankie Bunn walloped six goals against Scarborough in the Littlewoods Cup in October, and if they win today they will become the first lower-division side to reach both English cup finals in the same season.
When Oldham thrashed Aston Villa, the Division One leaders, in the quarter-final last month, the smart money was on them beating United. But things have changed since then. Oldham have lost their last three games without scoring a goal and are down to to ninth in Division Two, though they do have two games in hand on all the sides above them. It looks like their season of derring-do – this is their 54th game, with at least another 10 to come – might be catching up with them.
United, meanwhile, are in a bit of a purple patch: they have won two league games in a row for only the second time in 14 months, and are now five points above the relegation zone. Neil Webb and Bryan Robson are both back after long-term injuries. The odds have tipped in United’s favour. Our football correspondent David Lacey’s scorecast is 3-1 United after extra-time, which sounds about right.
Mind you, we all tipped Liverpool to hammer Palace, didn’t we?
Kick off is at 3.30pm.