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Everton's FA Cup run can lead to day of atonement, says Tim Howard

Tim Howard has said Everton's FA Cup run is fuelled by determination to make amends for last season's semi-final against Liverpool, a defeat that still haunts manager David Moyes.

Everton advanced to the quarter-finals on Tuesday with a 3-1 win over League One Oldham Athletic in a fifth-round replay. They now face Wigan at Goodison Park on Saturday week knowing victory will deliver a fourth Wembley appearance in five seasons under Moyes.

The club's last Wembley outing in April culminated in a lamentable display and a 2-1 defeat to Liverpool in the FA Cup semi-final, when they had arrived as the form team among the Merseyside rivals. Moyes said: "I still have the disappointment of the FA Cup semi-final last year against Liverpool and nothing would give me more pleasure than to get Everton back to Wembley to try and reach another final."

And Howard admitted Moyes's feelings are shared among the Everton squad. The USA goalkeeper said: "What happened to us last year has given us a real drive to get back there, but the way Wembley makes me feel, makes the team feel and makes the fans feel, is also giving us that drive.

"It's always tough to lose to Liverpool, more so in those circumstances and on that big occasion. You puff your chest out when you are going to Wembley, you're excited, the ticket requests are coming in and the fans are all singing their songs. In order for us to experience that again, we have to get past Wigan. But the draw has been favourable and it was good to get a home draw finally."

The Wigan manager, Roberto Martínez, was present at Goodison on Tuesday to witness an Everton performance that, while an improvement on recent outings in front of goal, remained short of their impressive form in the first half of the season.

"I don't think we are firing on all cylinders and, at the moment, I think that's a good thing," Howard said. "We have advanced in the Cup and have a home draw and we're still in the thick of it in the league. I'd sooner not be firing on all cylinders at this point and be where we are, than be further down the league. Let's hope we have something in reserve. We spent a lot of energy in the first half of the season and now it's more about our big players.

"We don't have a large squad so it's going to be about the big players producing. Most of the teams around us can chop and change their team on a given weekend and still have a lot of firepower. We don't have that. So it'll be up to our big players, who have already played a ton of minutes, to keep producing until the end of the season."

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Andy Hunter, for The Guardian on Wednesday 27th February 2013 22.30 Europe/London

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