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Latics vs Steaua Bucharest

6 July 2014

Latics' first pre season friendly saw Lee Johnson's men travel to the National Football Centre at St George's Park for a behind closed doors clash with Romanian Champions Steaua Bucharest.

The squad, featuring six trialists, was split into two to give everyone their first taste of match action in a contest refereed by the Premier League's Kevin Friend.

The first half team lined up with three trialists featuring alongside Paul Rachubka, Connor Brown, Gensi Kusunga, Liam Kelly, James Dayton, Mike Jones, James Wilson, and Brian Wilson. Connor Brown starting in the left full back position with new man Brian Wilson at right back. Liam Kelly and Mike Jones taking their places in the centre of midfield.

The games first chance came in the opening 10 minutes when a trialist striker stung the gloves of the Steaua 'keeper, whilst shortly after James Dayton fired just over from outside the box. At the other end Paul Rachubka saved a curling effort and well and intercepted a couple of crosses. Latics came within centimetres of taking the lead when a superb Mike Jones free kick came back off the post with the Bucharest ‘keeper well beaten. Another good chance followed shortly after when a trialist burst through the Steaua back line before his tame effort was saved. In a more serious match Steaua may well have found themselves down to ten men early on in proceedings when another of the Oldham trialists burst through on goal only to be caught by the last defender, however, with it being a friendly no action was taken.

Steaua took the lead shortly after the half hour mark, a smart run and shot by the Bucharest right winger was well saved by Rachubka, but a sky blue Steaua shirt was first to the loose ball as Valceanu snapped up the chance with ease to give the Romanians the lead. Neither side created any clear cut chances during the remainder of the half, with Latics, perhaps undeservedly trailing at the interval after having good chances early in the half and looking composed on the ball throughout.

The second half team also featured three trialists alongside, Joel Coleman, Joseph mills, Carl Winchester, Anton Rodgers, Adam Lockwood, Rhys turner, Danny Philliskirk and Jonson Clarke-Harris.

The line up featured Carl Winchester at right back, Joseph Mills partnering Adam Lockwood in the heart of the defence and Rhys Turner on the right hand side of midfield with Jonson Clarke-Harris leading the line.

Latics equalised early, a superb solo effort from that man Clarke-Harris who received the ball just inside the Steaua half, brushed off the first challenge, cut inside a second before curling a left footed effort across the goal that gave the Steaua keeper no chance.

On the hour Steaua made seven changes as they prepared for their upcoming Champions League qualifying round games. The changes had an almost immediate effect, Latics only partially clearing a corner which was fired into the net by Varela through a crowd of players from the edge of the area.

Within two minutes it was 3-1, Steaua's strikers combining superbly to create a one on one situation that left Joel Coleman with little chance of preventing Chipciu from extending Steaua’s lead. Within five minutes it was 4-1, Steaua opening up the Latics defence giving Gabriel Iancu a simple finish. The closest Latics came to cutting the deficit was a long range effort from a trialist which was saved well by the keeper.

The Romanian champions are some 3 weeks ahead of Latics in their preparations for the new season, indeed in 10 days time when Oldham entertain Newcastle United, Steaua travel to Norway for a Champions League qualifier with Strømsgodset, and in Steaua's 8 minute blitz that difference showed.

The Bucharest squad featured several full Romanian internationals, indeed their stand out player Cristian Tanase has over 30 caps. Despite this Latics more than matched their opponents for over an hour, leaving gaffer Lee Johnson pleased with the work out. Keep checking the official site as we'll bring you the managers thoughts as he reflects on his teams first outing.

Full Time:
Latics 1; Jonson Clarke-Harris (52)
Steaua Bucharest 4; Robert Valceanu (32), Fernando Varela (67), Alexandru Chipciu (69), Gabriel Iancu (71) 

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