HIS nerves may well have been frayed by watching his players eventually overcome a struggling team nicknamed the Latics.
But David Moyes will be relishing the prospect of a repeat as a return to Wembley moved a step nearer for Everton last night.
For Oldham Athletic, now read Wigan Athletic. Having finally disposed of the plucky npower League One outfit, Moyes’s men must next negotiate Premier League opposition after progressing to the FA Cup quarter-finals.
Yet they were made to fight every inch by an Oldham side that preyed on the indecision and lack of confidence that has crept into Everton’s game since the turn of the year.
Even when a neat Kevin Mirallas finish, a Leighton Baines penalty and Leon Osman’s 50th goal for the club put Moyes’s side in control shortly after the hour, the hosts were unable to relax as Matt Smith pulled a goal back with a trademark header.
It prompted a nervy, edgy and agitated Goodison to meet the final whistle with a mixture of delight and relief.
In truth, there was rarely any sign of Oldham – watched in the away end by hometown hero Paul Scholes – repeating their heroics of the first game at Boundary Park.
And while it wasn’t the most convincing of displays against a team 57 places below them in the league ladder, Moyes will be satisfied at a job done and a positive reaction to Saturday’s damaging Premier League defeat at Norwich City.
Victory means last night was the first of five consecutive home games, with the weekend top-flight visit of Reading followed by the last-eight clash with Wigan.
Everton hadn’t beaten Oldham in the FA Cup since 1912 and suffered a shock 1-0 home reverse against the third tier opposition in the third round five years ago.
When the teams were last initially drawn together at Boundary Park, the Latics eventually emerged victorious at the third time of asking after a 2-2 draw in the first game.
Smith, Oldham’s two-goal hero against Liverpool and who emerged from the bench to dramatically force a replay 10 days earlier, remained among the substitutes for the visitors with the Latics’ caretaker manager Tony Philliskirk retaining the team that beat Portsmouth at the weekend to move further clear of the drop zone.
It meant a starting return for Jose Baxter, the former Everton Academy graduate afforded a generous round of applause from the home supporters before kick-off having turned down the offer of a new Goodison contract in favour of regular first-team football elsewhere.
Moyes made two changes from the side that capitulated in the closing moments at Norwich City on Saturday.