Zak Dearnley once again struck a late winner for the second away game running to earn Latics maximum points at Southend United as well as grab a fourth goal in as many game during the process.
On as a second-half substitute, Dearnley clinched the win with a minute of regular time to play, latching onto Callum Whelan’s pass from midfield. He displayed great composure as he reached the area, taking the ball around goalkeeper Mark Oxley before finishing coolly.
The visitors had taken the lead through Bobby Grant but it looked as though they would be made to rue a number of missed chances when Tom Clifford leveled.
But Dearnley, who was unable to start due to an injury picked up in the weekend’s game against Port Vale, clinched the points with his fourth goal in as many matches.
Latics made six changes from Saturday, Dearnley taking a place on the bench due to a knock with Grant and Davis Keillor-Dunn coming into the attack.
The visitors went with a shape featuring three central defenders, whilst Brice Ntambwe, having made his debut in the recent win at Bolton, also returned to the team.
The first half was short of incident with chances difficult to come by at both ends. Southend had plenty of the early play without finding a cutting edge and although Latics saw more of the ball as the half went on they lacked a threat.
Jason Demetriou had the first chance for the hosts, drilling a shot wide after latching onto the second ball after Carl Piergianni’s header clear from a Terrell Egbri cross.
The visitors had a number of half-chances, Callum Whelan looking to release Keillor-Dunn but Harry Lennon was alert to the danger.
Latics’ best chance of the half came on 16 minutes when Dylan Fage, having been released down the right by Grant, cut inside but could only over.
Cameron Borthwick-Jackson also placed an effort wide after the ball had been switched from the right following good approach work from the visitors.
Latics wasted little time in opening the scoring after the break. Borthwick-Jackson made a strong run down the left, taking the ball to the by-line before putting it on a plate for Grant to turn home from close range.
Buoyed by the goal, Latics continued to press, Grant drifting in from the right, looking to pick out McAleny at the far post but the ball just had too much on it.
With two chances in quick succession, McAleny came within inches of extending Latics’ lead. First, having found space 20 yards from goal, he lifted a shot against the Southend upright before drawing a parrying save from keeper Oxley with an angled effort minutes later.
Yet Latics were pegged back on 75 minutes, Clifford curling a 20-yard free-kick around the visitors’ wall and inside the post.
And the home side almost took the lead when substitute Brandon Goodship crashed a free-kick onto the Latics bar.
But it was Dearnley who turned out to be the visitors’ own super sub, keeping his cool in the dying moments to send Latics back home with the vital win.
Oldham: Lawlor, Clarke, Borthwick-Jackson, Piergianni, Whelan, Keillor-Dunn (Dearnley 68), Grant, Fage (Bahamboula 81), Jameson, Ntambwe, McAleny.
Subs: Bilboe, Barnett, Hamer, McCalmont, Rowe.
Southend: Oxley, Bwomono, Olayinka, Dieng, Egbri, Clifford, Acquah (Sterling 52), Nathaniel-George, Demetriou, Lennon (Goodship 72), Taylor.
Subs: Seaden, Hobson, Phillips, Rush, Taylor.
Referee: Chris Sarginson