Notts County v Latics
Latics’ fortunes on their return to Nottingham were far removed from their last visit two-and-a-half weeks earlier.
After the euphoria of their victory on the opposite bank of the River Trent at Forest in the FA Cup with Budweiser came the disappointment of a 1-0 defeat at County in their rearranged npower League One match.
Enoch Showunmi’s first-half goal ensured Latics’ miserable run continued – they have picked up one point from a possible 24.
And despite a spirited second-half showing, Latics were unable to find a way back into the game by conjuring an equaliser.
It was frustrating for manager Paul Dickov who thought too many of his players had an eye on Sunday’s glamour FA Cup tie against Liverpool.
He said: "In the first half we were sloppy, didn’t get anywhere near them and sat off them.
"After they had a rollicking at half time, they went out and had a go.
"We have to learn as a group we cannot simply turn up on a matchday and expect things to happen and have one eye on the next game.
"We did things properly in the second half and could have got something from the game. They (County) didn’t threaten us in the second half and that was because we had a really good go."
Dickov added that once again they lost by the odd goal and there is nothing between most teams in League One.
Latics’ manager gave first starts for the club to Daniel Taylor and Chris Sutherland saying they deserved their chance after their cameos at Coventry on Saturday. James Wesolowski also returned after completing a three-match ban.
Lee Croft, Robbie Simpson and David Mellor were the three players to lose their starting spots.
As County played with three central defenders, just as neighbours Forest did, Dickov intended to push three players up against them, a tactic which was so effective at the City Ground.
It didn’t work at Meadow Lane where Taylor and Sutherland remained too wide operating effectively as wingers rather than pushing up on the centre backs.
Alan Judge had a couple of decent goal attempts early on for County while Yoann Arquin headed narrowly wide.
Latics had little to show for their efforts as Matt Smith ballooned a shot over the crossbar while Jose Baxter fired straight at keeper Bartosz Bialkowski.
County made the decisive breakthrough in the 36th minute following a superb move.
Andre Boucaud split open Latics’ defence with a superb pass to release Jamal Campbell-Ryce on the right and he crossed the ball low to the far post for Showunmi to virtually walk the ball into an empty net.
Latics came out with far more purpose following a half-time rocket from their manager.
Jonathan Grounds met Baxter’s free kick, but his header flew high over the crossbar.
Latics came agonisingly close to equalising in the 57th minute after Smith beat keeper Bialkowski to Youssouf M’Changama’s left-wing cross. The ball was looping in until centre-back Gary Liddle made a spectacular goalline clearance. Had that chance gone in, who knows what the outcome of the game might have been?
Dickov made a triple substitution midway through the half bringing on Croft, Simpson and Carl Winchester as M’Changama, Taylor and Sutherland made way.
They made an impact as Latics pressed during the latter stages as County, without a win in their last seven competitive matches, became increasingly nervy as they came ever closer to ending that sequence.
Smith failed to find the target with a couple of further headers, Simpson’s shot was deflected for a corner, Winchester blazed over while Wesolowski forced a decent diving save from Bialkowski.
County also had a couple of chances to add a second goal late on as Judge, a player with family in Oldham who support Latics, volleyed across the face of goal while Showunmi headed over when well placed.
County (3-4-1-2): Bialkowski; Liddle, Leacock, Sheehan; Campbell-Ryce (Bencherif 88), Bishop, Boucaud, Hughes; Judge; Showunmi (Labadie 82), Arquin (Nangle 90+2). Subs (not used): Spiess, Kelly, Smith, Mahon.
Latics (4-3-3): Bouzanis; Wabara, Byrne, M’voto, Grounds; M’Changama (Croft 64), Baxter; Wesolowki; Sutherland (Simpson 64), Smith, Taylor (Winchester 64).Subs (not used): Cisak, Brown, Tarkowski, Mellor.
The goal: Showunmi (36) for County.
Bookings: Bishop (52), Showunmi (67) for County. Grounds (60), Wesolowski (62), Smith (73) for Latics.
Referee: Mr M Brown.
Attendance: 3,309 (80 visitors).