The midfielder struck from 10 yards 20 minutes into the game to end Athletic’s unbeaten away record.
Manager David Dunn made two changes to his starting 11 as Connor Brown and Ricardo Fuller replaced Richard Eckersley and Dominic Poleon.
It was an even start to the first half with Latics having the better of the possession in the opening 10 minutes.
James Wilson had the first shot of the game on seven minutes but goalkeeper Ben Garratt saved comfortably.
On nine minutes came Latics best chance through central defender Brian Wilson.
Mark Yeates’ free kick found the head of the unmarked Wilson but he headed past the far post.
Goalkeeper David Cornell was forced into action on 12 minutes but he held onto Billy Bingham’s shot well from 18 yards.
Liam Kelly was the next to go close for Athletic with a scuffed effort and despite Latics pressure, Crewe Alexandra took the lead.
Semi Ajayi’s free kick found the head of Ben Nugent who guides it to King steaming in at the back post to put the Railwaymen ahead.
Latics needed to regroup and just after the half hour mark, Philliskirk’s cross into the box found Higdon know knocked it down to the onrushing Fulton but the home side managed to clear.
With the ball in midfield, Latics were doing their best to find a way through the Crewe defence but had no luck.
Ryan Lowe had a sight of goal with five minutes of the first half remaining but Cornell had it covered as it went wide.
Half time came at a good time for Dunn’s side as it gave them a chance to regroup.
At the break, the manager brought on Jake Cassidy and the striker received a huge round of applause from the excellent Oldham support as he returned from a broken leg which had ruled him out for three months.
The striker was straight into the action, running for every ball and his persistence almost caused Crewe to score an own goal.
He played the ball across the face of goal five minutes into the second half but Ajayi knocked wide of the post.
Latics continued to attack with Kelly whistling one past the post from 25 yards and Yeates’ whipped cross almost deceiving Ben Garratt.
Athletic had to be wary of the counter attack and just before the hour mark, Crewe’s James Jones thundered a shot past the post.
Richie Wellens joined the action on 60 minutes after rejoining the club on loan, eight years since leaving.
He slotted into midfield as Dunn switched formations to a 3-5-2 in a bid to get something out of the game.
With 20 minutes of the game remaining, Cornell again made a smart save to deny Crewe midfielder Jones.
Ryan Colclough got to the byline, cut the ball back to the midfielder but Cornell saves his shot from 20 yards.
As time started to run out for Latics, they brought on Dominic Poleon and played with three strikers.
That move almost paid off as Cassidy crossed to Philliskirk but the forward just put the ball wide of the post.
Latics huffed and puffed but Crewe had the chance to win the game with five minutes remaining.
Colclough did well again on the left to get to the byline, he crossed into the centre for Ryan Wintle but he put it over the crossbar.
It was Crewe that managed to get the three points but Latics stay in 20th position.
Crewe Alexandra: Garratt, Turton, Guthrie, Nugent, Lowe (Saunders 72’), Haber, King (Wintle 77’), Bingham, Jones, Colclough (Ng 90’), Ajayi.
Subs not used: Nizic, Dalla Valle, Baillie, Wilson.
Oldham Athletic: Cornell, Brown (Wellens 59’), J.Wilson, B.Wilson, Mills, Kelly, Fulton (Poleon 70’), Yeates, Philliskirk, Higdon, Fuller (Cassidy 46’).
Subs not used: Coleman, Dieng, Jones, Winchester.
Goals: Crewe Alexandra (King 21’) 1-0 Oldham Athletic
Attendance: 3,969 (414 visiting supporters)