Wesolowski clinches 'double' over Boro
James Wesolowski's first half goal was enough to clinch all three points as Latics completed a league double over a very physical Stevenage outfit. The win lifted Lee Johnson's side to 16th in the Sky Bet League 1 table and perhaps more importantly put real distance between themselves and their visitors.
Johnson admitted afterwards that the result was more probably important than the performance:
"It wasn't a fantastic, vintage, free-flowing football game, but it was really important that we won the match. We did show some quality at times and we had three or four really good chances but it was a bit edgy and I think we need to score that second goal to make us free-flowing again.
"The lads are quite subdued in the dressing room, they are obviously pleased to have got the win, and very pleased with the clean sheet, but individually they are feeling that they could have got their game going a little better. But we all realise that it was important to take the win however it came"
A bright opening from the Latics brought two consecutive corners, the first headed behind for another corner, keeper Chris Day punching clear from the second kick under pressure from Danny Philliskirk. Neat build up play down the Boro left saw the first effort on goal as a Wesolowski shot cleared the visitors bar.
The visitors came closest to opening the scoring as Jon Ashton's header, from Boro's first corner of the game, bounced to safety off the joint of post and bar on 8 minutes.
After a good spell of neat and patient build-up play Latics took the lead on 12 minutes as Wesolowski stooped to head home a delightful cross from Michael Petrasso. The midfielder arriving between two defenders to open the scoring for Johnson's side.
The goal stung Boro into action as Mark Oxley was called upon, diving to his near post to save an effort from Marcus Haber. Francois Zoko then firing over when well placed in the 6 yard box. Wesolowski then showing his defensive ability as he read the visitors neat training ground free kick routine to clear the ball from danger.
With the half drawing to a close Boro kept up the pressure as they pushed for a leveller, the Latics rearguard standing firm to ensure that Oxley was well protected.
With the half time whistle approaching Jonson Clarke-Harris wasted a good chance to give his side a two goal cushion as he blasted an effort wide after finding space in the box.
HT: Oldham Athletic 1 (Wesolowski) Stevenage 0
Latics started on the front foot again in the second half, Clarke-Harris again guilty of wasting a good opportunity, firing wide after a neat pass from Gary Harkins put him through on goal.
Latics keeper Oxley came to his side's rescue on 50 minutes, diving to save a low drive from Dean Parrett, Haber firing the loose ball over the bar. Wesolowski was penalised for a foul on 54 minutes, with many inside Boundary Park expecting the free kick to be awarded the other way. Latics defensive wall ensuring justice as Luke Freeman's kick was charged down.
Louder appeals came from the home support moments later as Harkins was clearly fouled as he strode through the Boro defence, referee Rushton allowing play to carry on before booking Jones for his challenge.
The visitors were looking lively pushing forward and Genserix Kusunga had to react quickly to clear the danger after Oxley had tipped away a low shot from Boro substitute Darius Charles.
The tiring Harkins, who had impressed all with his efforts, was replaced on 74 minutes by James Dayton.
Wesolowski came close to doubling both his and Latics tally as his effort from well outside the box, after yet another free kick awarded against the visitors, had been blocked on the 6 yard line. Philliskirk blazing the loose ball well wide.
The visitors heavy handed tactics caught up with them on 85 minutes as Ben Chorley, who had been having a running battle with Clarke-Harris, was shown a red card for an off the ball incident which had left the Latics forward on the floor. Moments later manager Lee Johnson made a double substitution, replacing Clarke-Harris and Petrasso with Charlie MacDonald and Adam Rooney.
With Latics looking to push home their man advantage skipper Korey Smith tested keeper Day with a well struck free kick, Philliskirk wasting a good chance to clinch victory as he shot wide in added time.
The final whistle ended a strong second half performance from each and every member of Latics side, to clinch the three points against a typically physical Stevenage side, Wesolowski quite rightly awarded the 'sponsors' man of the match.
After the game he was quick to credit his team mates for their part in the victory: "We always knew it was going to be a tough afternoon against a side that make it difficult to play. The boys dug in deep and it was a bit nervy at times but I was confident that once we went ahead, the team would keep hold of the lead"
Johnson added: "It was a fantastic display from James, he was excellent last week at Anfield as well, he not only gets the winner, he drives us on and the amount of tackles he made was the difference"
FT: Latics 1 (Wesolowski) Stevenage 0
ATT: 3,460 (90)