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Match Reports

Grimsby Town 0-0 Latics

29 December 2020

Latics’ run of seven successive away wins came to an end with a goalless draw against Grimsby.

On a bitterly cold evening at Blundell Park, neither side could produce the quality needed to find the breakthrough in a game short of attacking incident.

With both sides struggling for chances, Latics’ best opportunity to claim the win came in stoppage time, Jordan Barnett finding himself in space on the left edge of the penalty area, only for goalkeeper Sam Russell to turn his angled shot around the near post.

It was the clearest chance of a lacklustre contest, but while Latics will probably reflect on an opportunity missed, they can at least take heart from a solid defensive showing, earning them a first clean sheet in Sky Bet League Two this season.

Harry Kewell made five changes from the Boxing Day game against Harrogate Town due to injury and suspension, handing Academy striker Junior Luamba his first EFL start alongside Zak Dearnley in attack.

17-year-old Luamba performed manfully, causing problems for the home defence during his 67 minutes on the pitch and creating a number of openings.

Latics started well, Dylan Bahamboula cutting the ball back to Dearnley, whose shot was blocked and the pair nearly combined again, only for Danny to make a vital interception to cut out a cute through-ball.

Luke Waterfall also got in the way of a shot from Luamba, who was denied again shortly before half-time. As an initial effort from the youngster was blocked, the rebound fell to Barnett, whose effort from the edge of the box was deflected over.

At the other end, Ian Lawlor’s one act was to make one save to deny Mattie Pollock from a Elliot Hewitt free-kick.

A great exchange at the start of the second half between Cameron Borthwick-Jackson and Dearnley resulted in the full-back fizzing the ball across goal but no Latics player could get a telling touch.

Yet any hope Latics had of building momentum straight after the re-start was punctured by a seven-minute stoppage due to an injury to an assistant referee.

Bahamboula always looked the most likely player on either side to make something happen, driving down the right before his teasing cross was cleared. The winger also sent in a free-kick from the same channel but Carl Piergianni’s glancing header went just wide.

Barnett and substitute Davis Keillor-Dunn had half-chances before Bahamboula curled a free-kick into the side-netting from 25 yards.

The best chance of the evening fell to Barnett right at the end but there was to be no fairytale ending to Latics’ pursuit of a new club record, instead having to settle for the first clean sheet in 20 and first draw in 17.

Grimsby Town: Russell, Hendrie, Waterfall, Pollock, Hewitt, Morais (Clifton 72), Preston, Rose, Edwards (Jackson Jnr 83), Green, Williams (Tilley 60).

Subs not used: Battersby, Starbuck, Gibson, Bennett.

Oldham Athletic: Lawlor, Clarke, Borthwick-Jackson, Piergianni, Garrity, Fage, Ntambwe, Barnett, Dearnley, Bahamboula, Luamba (Keillor-Dunn 67).

Subs not used: Bilboe, Jombati, Whelan, Diarra, McCalmont, Hamer.

Referee: Tom Nield (replaced Ollie Yates at short notice).

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