Just bonkers at the start, ecsatically bonkers at the end.

Last updated : 09 January 2005 By Cory Hazlehurst
I had paid £18 for a game that was going to be played in hail, rain and 80mph gales. Bits of the roof were falling off in the winds. Chief executive Alan Hardy had told 5Live that he had inspected the pitch whilst bits of advertising hoardings flying around his head. There was also a very good chance that Oldham were going to be absolutely slaughtered, by a Manchester City side that had already beaten Chelsea, and almost beaten Arsenal. I had disturbing images of freezing to death and evading bits of falling roof, while City hit their eighth goal in the back of the net...

Maybe I should have had more faith. Whilst I was at Boundary Park, however, the pre-match build up raised my optimism enough to predict a 1-0 Latics win to my Man City-supporting friend Claire, with whom I had travelled to watch the game. Nevertheless, I shouted "Come on Oldham!" as the players ran out, as if I was shouting at a puppy who had just pooed on my prize pansies, rather than as a blood-curdling battle cry.

Not very surprisingly, Oldham started brightly. Also not very surprisingly, David James flapped at a David Eyres corner and missed. These two things combined to put the ball in the back of City's net within the first ten minutes. However, ref Mike Dean reckoned that John Eyre had fouled James, so he disallowed the goal. I don't think that he had, even looking at it afterwards on Match of the Day. It's a shame really, because the ref had a decent display and was one of the better ones I've seen at Boundary Park.

Oldham did score in the 14th minute. David Eyres pulled the ball back into the six yard box from a free kick. There were at least three unmarked Latics players ready and waiting to score. Scott Vernon was one; and it was he who sidefooted past David James. I checked to see if Mike Dean had found some reason to disallow the goal - he hadn't - so I started celebrating. OLDHAM 1-0 CITY! YES!!

There was then the small matter of surviving until half time. Oldham did; but not without worry. City hit the post, and after Pogliacomi made a couple of class saves, Eyres cleared off the line.

As I walked back with some chips just after half time, I saw Kevin Betsy's lob bounce onto the roof of City's goal. Maybe it was for the best - if Kevin had scored, my resulting celebrations would almost have certainly ensured that the spectators in the front row of the Pukka pie stand were covered with vinegar and tomato sauce.

Oldham then had no more chances for the next 30 minutes. The whole back line was immense. If Will Haining is not a rock in defence yet, he is a pretty sturdy pebble. He'll turn into a rock one day. I remember that the second half was a blur of frantic tackles, blocked shots, clearances billowing into the wind, and a great deal of nail-biting. All the midfielders helped out as well. John Eyre, Eyres and Mark Hughes gave typically industrious displays. Neil Kilkenny was good going forward. Even Scott Vernon was helping out in the bottom third of the field, after scoring in the top third of the pitch.

Shaun Wright Phillips swapped flanks, but to no avail. Kevin Keegan brought on Steve McManaman and stuck him at right-back, also to no avail. Any chances they did have were saved by the immense Pogliacomi. The pick of the saves was from a Shaun Wright-Phillips thunderbolt from 20 yards. Big Les used all his 6 foot 5 to tip it round the post from a corner. Had he been 6 foot 3, Wright-Phillips would have scored.

As the tie progressed, it became more likely that Oldham, and not City, would score. David Eyres could have made sure of victory with a drive just wide of the far post. Eventually, after City cleared a Latics corner, the final whistle was blown. Fans ran onto the pitch. I jumped up and down a few times. Even Claire tried to smile. Then, as police came onto the pitch to evict fans from the pitch, "We're the boys in blue...and we'll win for you..." started playing on the tannoy. It was an ironic, amusing end to a wonderful day.