Jubilation ... Oldham Athletic players celebrate after scoring against Liverpool. Photo: Reuters
LIVERPOOL manager Brendan Rodgers castigated his players after they crashed to a sensational defeat at third-tier Oldham Athletic on Sunday in the FA Cup fourth round.
Rodgers named fringe players Sebastian Coates, Jack Robinson, Jordan Henderson and Australian goalkeeper Brad Jones in his starting XI at Boundary Park and the plan backfired as the 18-time English champions were beaten 3-2 by League One Oldham.
Striker Matt Smith was the hosts' match-winner, scoring twice either side of a Luis Suarez goal for Liverpool to set Paul Dickov's side en route to a famous victory.
Reece Wabara's header made it 3-1 three minutes into the second half and Liverpool could not find a way back despite Joe Allen pulling a goal back 11 minutes from time.
Liverpool became the fifth Premier League side to lose to a team from a lower level in this season's fourth round and Rodgers pulled no punches in his assessment of his team's failings.
''Matt Smith is a good player, but we have played against that type before,'' he said. ''The FA Cup was a competition we wanted to have a go at and there is no excuse. We put out a strong team capable of winning the game, but we didn't. There has been plenty of warnings throughout the weekend.''
Having handed opportunities to players desperate for playing time, Rodgers said he was frustrated to see them underperform.
''I was bitterly disappointed with the young players as today they had a chance to show they can play for Liverpool and compete for a club that has to challenge for trophies.''
Oldham, three-time semi-finalists, joined fellow third-tier side Milton Keynes Dons, Championship clubs Millwall and Leeds United and non-league Luton Town in claiming a Premier League scalp this weekend.
The win appears to have given Dickov a reprieve, with speculation rife he was due to be sacked owing to Oldham's dismal League One form of seven defeats and a draw in eight games. But club chairman Simon Corney on Monday indicated he was safe for now. ''I think Paul's OK for the time being,'' Corney told the BBC. ''If you lose seven out of eight … you're going to be under pressure. Hopefully this will be the kick-start and we won't be talking about Paul's job again.''
Fifth-round draw (to be played February 16-17)
Huddersfield Town or Leicester City v Wigan Athletic
Milton Keynes Dons v Barnsley
Oldham Athletic v Everton
Luton Town v Millwall
Arsenal v Blackburn Rovers
Manchester City v Leeds United
Manchester United v Reading
Middlesbrough v Brentford or Chelsea