Latics suffer a frustrating defeat against Walsall on a cold winter evening at Boundary Park.
After picking up our second home league win of the season at the weekend, Head Coach, Harry Kewell named an unchanged starting XI for the visit of the West Midlands outfit. This is the first time this campaign that Latics have lined-up the same in back-to-back matches.
The OACT dedicated fixture failed to offer any excitement in the opening 20 minutes with neither side creating a chance on goal.
However, in the 22nd minute, the match came to life as Dylan Fage clumsily brought down Wes McDonald inside the area and the referee pointed to the spot. Josh Gordon stepped up and confidently placed it into the bottom right corner with Ian Lawlor diving the opposite direction.
Darrell Clarke’s side went in search of doubling their advantage and came close on two occasions. The first opportunity occurred as the tricky Rory Holden dribbled into the 18-yard box and chipped a cross to the back post which was met by the goalscorer, but Cameron Borthwick-Jackson bravely put his body in the way to deny what looked a certain goal.
Just minutes later, a long ball up to Elijah Adebayo saw the forward bring the ball down before turning and driving towards the Rochdale Road End. The former Fulham man drilled an effort, from an angle, with power and it cannoned off the post and out for a corner-kick.
The hosts created two chances of their own just before the interval as Conor McAleny chased down and produced a great slide tackle which landed at the feet of Bobby Grant. The experienced attacker had the vision to slot the onrushing Alfie McCalmont clean through on goal but the Leeds loanee was denied by the goalkeeper before smashing the rebound against the crossbar from yards out.
With momentum growing, Latics thought they had got the score as Ben Garrity found Dylan Bahamboula inside the box and the flamboyant wideman confused the defender with step overs before striking low and hard which smashed the post and agonisingly rolled across the goal line before being cleared.
The Saddlers started the second-half in style as they doubled their lead through an own goal. Cameron Norman delivered a cross from the right which the Latics shot-stopper punched away, but it rebounded off Carl Piergianni and, unfortunately, into his own net.
Harry Kewell’s side showed great character to get themselves back into the game as two minutes later they pulled a goal back. Bahamboula was the creator as he raced to the byline before pulling a low cross back which found the feet of Dylan Fage and the full-back placed his effort into the far corner.
Following this, the boys in blue managed to get themselves level in the 68th minute with the skipper atoning for his own goal. Once again, Bahamboula was at the heart of the goal as he floated a free-kick, from near the half-way line, into the box and it found the head of Piergianni who steered the ball into the bottom corner.
After all their hard work to get back level, Latics were given a sucker punch by the lively Adebayo. Wes McDonald did well on the left-wing to deliver an in-swinging cross which found the path of the striker for him to flick past Lawlor for his eighth goal of the campaign.
Hayden White felt ambitious as he tried to catch Lawlor out with a quick free-kick from the middle of the park but he managed to recover and collect the ball easily after causing panic.
Oldham battled to try and get an equaliser, but their pressure didn’t amount to any chances on goal and the Saddlers picked up their first win at Boundary Park since August 2013.
Oldham Athletic XI – Lawlor (GK), H.Clarke, Borthwick-Jackson, Piergianni ©, Garrity, Grant, Fage, Ntambwe (Keillor-Dunn 61’), McAleny (Dearnley 67'), Bahamboula, McCalmont (Barnett 85’).
Subs – Bilboe (GK), Whelan, Diarra, Hamer.
Goals: Fage 55’, Piergianni 68’
Walsall XI – Rose (GK), Norman, Jules (White 44’), J.Clarke ©, Scarr, Kinsella, Gordon (Sinclair 76’), Adebayo (Lavery 83’), Bates, McDonald (Scrimshaw 83’), Holden.
Subs – Roberts (GK), Guthrie, Osadebe.
Goals: Gordon 23’, Piergianni OG 53’, Adebayo 72’
Referee – James Ball