City picked up another vital point in the quest for promotion after an incident packed game at Boundary Park. The game had goals, cards and plenty of intrigue for the supporters on a cold evening in Greater Manchester.
The Latics took the lead against the run of play early in the second half through Mohamed Maouche only for City to level five minutes later from the boot of Michael O’Connor.
The Imps fielded an unchanged starting eleven from the team which drew with Mansfield Town last weekend, but there was one change on the bench as club captain, Lee Frecklington returned to the matchday 18 replacing Ellis Chapman.
Backed by over 500 travelling supporters behind Josh Vickers’ goal, City started well defensively as they were put under quite some pressure by the experienced Ishmael Miller up front for the hosts. It was a cagey start to the game however, as neither side could really get hold of the ball and maintain possession for a length of time. But, City were within a lick of paint of taking the lead within the opening ten minutes, John Akinde had to wrestle out of the attentions of George Edmundson, despite the Latic’s defender clearly pulling back the Imps’ striker Akinde somehow got his shot away, it beat Daniel Iverson but thundered off the crossbar before bounding to safety.
Miller was the focal point for the Oldham attacks, his presence was causing problems as he drifted out to the left and he won a free kick for the hosts. Johan Branger-Engone whipped the ball into the near post where former Latic, Neal Eardley cleared, Dan Gardner played it back into the danger zone but at the second attempt The Imps lashed clear.
The home side took heart from the attack and pressed higher as a result, Gevaro Nepomuceno down the right tried to get beyond Harry Toffolo, the City left back though stood firm. Andy Taylor was to whip in a cross on the opposite side of the pitch, overlapping down the right which Vickers dived bravely low to punch clear, Gardner firing the rebound high into the stand over the top.
City weren’t sitting deep though as Akinde’s pace down the right again caused Edmundson more problems, the Oldham defender having to turn the ball out for a throw deep in his own half, the quick restart from The Imps led to Shay McCartan getting a shot away which was just deflected off target.
The very slick and heavy conditions underfoot was clearly having an effect on the game with neither side still unable to really get anything like control of the game. The home side were struck a blow when Gardner had to be replaced as he was stretched off with just over 30 minutes gone, The Latic’s number six going down innocuously after playing the ball across half way. The delay for the injured home player added some four minutes of stoppage time, then the assistant referee was injured meaning another delay to proceedings within a matter of minutes.
Eardley linked with Akinde, the striker held off two defenders to get round the back but right at the last somehow, Edmundson poked clear before Akinde could get his shot away, Andrade picked up possession to shoot but Iverson saved down low. The intrigue and incident continued though as the game went into stoppage time, Miller racing forward towards goal was faced by Vickers coming from his line, the Latics striker collided with the City ‘keeper who was left on the ground and the referee dismissed Miller for the challenge much to the chagrin of the home supporters.
Michael Bostwick denied Oldham’s second sub, Sam Surridge, the chance to get a shot away as he looked to wriggle clear deep inside the area almost on the cusp of half time, City’s defender halting the attack much like Edmundson had up the opposite end of the field a little earlier.
Oldham Athletic 0 The Imps 0
The Imps won a corner within seconds of the second half getting underway, Michael O’Connor whipped it to the near post and it somehow came through a sea of legs untouched before Oldham cleared. Play switched immediately to the home side who raced forward but Jason Shackell cleared, but following a couple of corners for the home side in quick succession they opened the scoring. Mohamed Maouche clattering in a shot from 25 yards which whistled past Vickers into the goal.
City didn’t take long to respond though, within five minutes the scores were level. A freee kick was hoisted into the danger area where Akinde won the header, it bounced down to Harry Anderson who swivelled and shot, the effort was blocked but it rolled out to O’CONNOR who smashed in low and true beyond the despairing dive of Iverson.
City were now pressing with far more intensity and somehow the Imps weren’t able to extend their lead within a couple of minutes, Akinde linked well with McCartan who did well to find space to cross, the low ball was turned towards goal with Akinde and Edmundson in the thick of it but Iverson diving to somehow get a hand to the ball to make a terrific save.
The game was end to end, both sides pressing for a second making for an entertaining and engrossing encounter.
Harry Toffolo hoisted in a hanging cross to the back post where McCartan leapt to head back across goal, his looping header had to be well saved by Iverson to stop The Imps taking the lead. City continued to press for a second and the introduction of Matt Rhead with 20 minutes to go added a different dimension to the attack.
Eardley made a fantastic burst down the right before whipping in a tantalising cross that Rhead was close to getting his head to, but it was cleared for a corner. The resulting flag kick brought an effort from Andrade which Iverson did very well to save low at his near post with The Imps dominating possession. Callum Lang tested the concentration of Vickers as he hit a low drive that City’s number one did very well to save in a brief and rare attack for the home side.
Andrade was then millimetres away from giving the Imps the lead, cutting in from the left he looked up and as everyone was expecting the cross he slid the ball towards the near post only to see it hit the upright and skid right across the goal line. Rhead was denied by a tremendous diving save following some quick feet shown by Lee Frecklington, as it was all hands to the pump for the hosts in a desperate attempt to keep the scores level.
Oldham were to find a burst of energy from seemingly being on their knees, Gevaro Nepomuceno smashing a low free kick which Vickers did really well to save, it got the home fans back off their seats and back in full voice as the game edged into the final five minutes.
Frecklngton hit a lovely fizzing volley from the edge of the box, watching the ball drop out of the air and the glare of the floodlights which Iverson did well to save with neither side settling for a point.
There were chances at both ends as O’Connor fired over, Rhead too missing the target before Lang clattered a shot which whistled just over the the top for the hosts in the dying moments of injury time.
Oldham Athletic 1 The Imps 1
1 Daniel IVERSON
3 Andy TAYLOR
4 George EDMUNDSON
6 Dan GARDNER
11 Ishmael MILLER
17 Christopher MISSILOU
19 Callum LANG
22 Johan BRANGER-ENGONE
23 Rob HUNT
26 Peter CLARKE
27 Gevaro NEPOMUCENO
43 Ewan MCFARLANE
2 Cameron DUMMIGAN
9 Sam SURRIDGE (45’ for Branger-Engone)
10 Chris O’GRADY
18 Sam GRAHAM
28 Mohamed MAOUCHE (36’ for Gardner)
34 Tom HAMER
Booked: Missilou 53’ Surridge 86’Lang 90’
RED CARD: Miller 45’
Goal: Maouche 49’
1 Josh VICKERS
4 Michael O’CONNOR
5 Jason SHACKELL
7 Tom PETT
11 Bruno ANDRADE
14 Harry TOFFOLO
16 Michael BOSTWICK
17 Shay McCARTAN
23 Neal EARDLEY
26 Harry ANDERSON
29 John AKINDE
24 Sam SLOCOMBE
2 Kellan GORDON
6 Scott WHARTON
8 Lee FRECKLINGTON (74’ for Pett)
9 Matt RHEAD (70’ for Anderson)
10 Matt GREEN (81’ for Akinde)
18 Bernard MENSAH
Booked: Akinde 61’ Bostwick 82’ Toffolo 85’
Goal: O’Connor 54’
Referee: Ben Toner
Assistants: Robert Atkin & Richard Woodward
4th Official: Ian Smedley
Attendance: 3597, (610 Imps’ supporters)