Liverpool 2 Oldham Athletic 0 match report: Iago Aspas breaks his duck but shows Liverpool’s need to strengthen

Spanish forward helps the Reds progress to the fourth round

Anfield

A very good quiz question will not, after all, have to be amended. It is “who is the only Liverpool No 9 to go through an entire season without scoring?” The answer is El Hadji Diouf. For most of this season it has looked as if it would also be Iago Aspas.

The name of the side he scored against will not resonate on Spain’s Atlantic coast, where Aspas grew up – Oldham are only being kept out of the League One relegation zone on goal difference. However, it was a goal that displayed considerable technique, as he leant back to hook home a low cross from Raheem Sterling. Moments later, in an almost identical move, he struck the post.

Oldham were far better than their league position suggests but, had he not scored in this fixture, you would have to ask what the point of him was. At 26, Aspas is too old to be filed under “young and promising” and the £7.7m Liverpool paid Celta Vigo for him will have to be justified fairly swiftly.

This was the third successive season these sides had met in the FA Cup and it was by a distance the least memorable game. Kenny Dalglish’s team won the first 5-1 on their way to the 2012 final while Oldham’s 3-2 victory at Boundary Park last year was not enough to prevent Paul Dickov’s dismissal as their manager.

Here, Liverpool, who will travel to either Bournemouth or Burton Albion in the fourth round, got through three captains and finished the match with 10 men after Daniel Agger, who had been given the armband by the departing Steven Gerrard, limped off with cramp in his calf. Brendan Rodgers had by then used all his substitutes.

Two of the changes were made during the interval after a dreadful first half in which the Liverpool manager replaced two others he had brought to Anfield in the summer – Luis Alberto and Victor Moses, who looks chronically short of confidence. Rodgers might have thought long and hard about replacing Aspas.

“We needed to do better, we needed to have more speed and intensity in our game,” said Rodgers. “I didn’t want to make the substitutions but the last thing you want is for the game to go to a replay. As a manager you learn you just can’t wait for it to happen, you have to create that momentum yourself.

“The ideal scenario was to let players who play week in and week out recover but we wanted to win the game. The others have to contribute; you can’t keep relying on the same 11 to 12 players.”

The evidence of this tie and much of this season is that unless Rodgers is allowed to spend in the transfer window Liverpool will be relying on 11 to 12 players in general and Luis Suarez in particular.

Their play did not merit a second goal but they got one when a wild shot from Sterling struck James Tarkowski and ricocheted horribly past Mark Oxley in the Oldham goal.

There was time for Rodgers to be given what he reflected was “the surreal experience” of seeing his son, Anton, come on to play against him.

While Oldham were a goal down, they continued to fight and, but for a fine one-handed save from Brad Jones, Michael Petrasso would have earned them an equaliser. It was then that Rodgers decided to drag on Suarez, which for Oldham was a victory of sorts. “We tried to go toe-to-toe with one of the best sides in the country,” said their manager, Lee Johnson. “We need that attitude for the rest of the season.”

The tie had begun with a tribute to Wayne Harrison, who, when he moved from Oldham to Liverpool in 1985, became the most expensive teenager in the country. But for an irreparable injury, he might have become one of the great footballers of his generation rather than ending up as a brewery driver who died from pancreatic disease at 46.

Harrison was never bitter about his fate and what was meant to be a minute’s silence became a sustained round of applause. It was a fitting tribute, if not a fitting match to remember him by.

Liverpool: (4-1-4-1) Jones 6; Kelly 6, Toure 6, Agger 6, Cissokho 6; Gerrard 6 (Suarez 77); Sterling 7, Henderson 6, Luis Alberto 4 (Lucas Leiva ht 5), Moses 4 (Coutinho ht 6); Aspas 6. Substitutes: Mignolet (g), Ilori, Skrtel, Brannagan. Booked; Sterling.

Oldham Athletic: (4-4-2) Oxley 7; Kusunga 6, Tarkowski 6, Grounds 6, Mellor 6 (Rodgers 84); Rooney 5 (Harkins 60 5), Wesolowski 6, Smith 6, Petrasso 6; Clarke-Harris 5 (Dayton 60 5), Philliskirk 6. Substitutes: Rachubka (g), Winchester, Lockwood, Brown. Booked: Smith. 

Referee: Steve Attwell

Match rating: 6/10

Man of the match: Raheem Sterling (Liverpool)

Attendance: 44,102

Suggested Topics
Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried