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. 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 fit 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.