Kevin Ellison scored a last-minute winner to condemn Latics to an opening day defeat against Newport County.
For Latics’ first Sky Bet League Two fixture of the 2021/22 campaign, Head Coach Keith Curle named a strong starting XI despite his squad being hit by several cases of Covid-19. Interestingly, six players were all handed their debuts in the blue of Oldham as well as Alan Sheehan returning for a league match for the first-time since 2009.
It’s fair to say that the hosts started the encounter on the front foot, however, they failed to create any clear-cut opportunities of note with a few half-chances falling their way.
First, great persistence by Tottenham Hotspur loanee Jamie Bowden allowed him to find his way into the area, but the midfielder couldn’t find a teammate with the final pass. Following that, Latics produced some great football in the middle of the park before Nicky Adams delivered into the area, however, the Newport County goalkeeper easily caught the cross.
Michael Flynn’s side looked dangerous when Lewis Collins received possession inside the final third and dribbled with intent towards goal before trying to slot Robbie Willmott clean through on the right-hand side, however, Sam Hart produced a remarkable interception to deny him.
Another Latics debutant Ousseynou Cisse, looking to impress the Boundary Park faithful, picked up the ball around 35-yards from goal before, ambitiously, trying his luck on the half-volley, but it flew past the far post.
Early into the second-half, former Bristol Rovers midfielder Ed Upson tested Latics’ new shot-stopper as he powerfully struck from distance, but Danny Rogers was equal to it.
In the 57th minute, Mickey Demetriou found the back of the net for the Exiles as he headed in from close range following a free-kick delivery which sparked wild scenes in the away end, however, to their frustration, the linesman already had his flag raised so the goal didn’t count.
Curle witnessed his side go close when Adams delivered a cross onto the head of Carl Piergianni, but the skipper couldn’t direct his header on target.
Latics nearly broke the deadlock with minutes to spare when Adams produced a pinpoint cross from a free-kick towards Piergianni, however, the towering defender’s header went agonisingly past the post.
In the 89th minute, the charismatic veteran Ellison won the match for his side as the substitute’s glancing header looped over Rogers and into the far corner before he reeled away with a jubilant celebration.
The South Wales outfit nearly doubled their advantage in added time as Timmy Abraham, brother of Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham, raced through but before he was able to shoot, Piergianni produced a fine tackle to deny the attacker.
Oldham Athletic XI – Rogers (GK), J.Clarke (Stobbs 74’), Hart, Cisse, Piergianni ©, Adams, Whelan, Keillor-Dunn, Bowden, Blyth (Luamba 58’), Sheehan (Jameson 46’).
Subs: Danielewicz (GK), Da Silva, Badan, Vaughan.
Newport County XI – Day (GK), Norman, Haynes, Upson, Farquharson, Willmott, Dolan © (J.Clarke 35’), Hylton (Abraham 51’), Bennett, Collins (Ellison 73’), Demetriou.
Subs: Townsend (GK), Lewis, Missilou, Greenidge.
Goals: Ellison 89’
Attendance: 4,094 (317 away).
Referee – Tom Nield