Smith 'overwhelmed' after a repeat of Cup heroics
By Laura Fell
FORMER Pate's Grammar School student Matt Smith was 'overcome with joy' after scoring a last-minute equaliser for Oldham Athletic against Everton in the FA Cup fifth round.
In the dying seconds of the Boundary Park clash, Smith headed the ball home from a corner.
The sweetly timed goal earned the Latics a replay at Goodison Park next week with a home tie against Wigan Athletic at stake for the winners.
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"I was and still am overwhelmed. I was overcome with joy at scoring", Smith said.
"It was a fantastic occasion for the club and for everyone to be involved in. There was a massive pile-on in the changing room afterwards in celebration."
Smith, 23, made a real impact coming on the pitch in the second half as a substitute and was spurred on by the thought of friends and family in the crowd supporting him.
"It was extra special to know I had friends and family in the crowd watching," he said.
"I really felt I'd made an impact coming on. I was always going for the goal and was unlucky with one chance.
"I thought maybe I'd had my only chance, and was happy with my performance regardless, knowing I had had an impact on the game.
"But to score in the dying seconds was incredible."
The 6ft 6in striker is extremely excited at the prospect of the replay against Everton at Goodison Park next week, although he is aware the match will differ dramatically to the home matches they have played so far.
"It will be a different game, playing away. The ground will be foreign to us and we will have to get used to it quickly," he said.
"But if we play with the same work-rate and the same attitude, who knows what will happen."
But before any thoughts turn to Goodison, Smith and his teammates must concentrate on their battle to avoid the drop, starting with tonight's trip to Stevenage.
"We now have two League games to play before the replay. We have to put this result to the back of our minds but remember what we did well," he said.
"I'd like to think if we put in the same performance we did against Everton, we'd come out on top of any team in the league.
"Of course, it isn't the big TV match against Premier League opposition but we've got to get psyched up and try to replicate what we did last weekend in the next few matches."
Football fans are becoming used to Smith's FA Cup heroics. The 23-year-old scored two goals against Liverpool in the fourth round in their dramatic 3-2 win over the Premier League side.
Smith was taken off late in the second half against Liverpool after a knock to the shoulder, but his bullying and aggressive style of play in the box dominated defenders Martin Skrtel and Sebastian Coates and secured him Man of the Match.
League One Oldham are now the lowest ranked team left in the FA Cup, while giants Manchester City, Chelsea, Everton and Manchester United/Reading are still in the running.
Although Smith and the team have work to do to secure the win against Everton, the enticing prospect of facing Wigan at home in the quarter-finals is not far from his mind.
"It's another Premier League side and another opportunity," he said.
"For Premier League teams, coming to Boundary Park is very different and a stark change to the luxuries they are used to.
"It is a very hostile environment for away sides."