On a freezing cold and foggy night in the North West, Latics surrender their lead seeing Mansfield pick up all three points at Boundary Park for the first time since April 1978.
Following Latics’ departure from the FA Cup at the weekend, Harry Kewell named two changes to his starting XI with top goalscorer Conor McAleny and Callum Whelan returning to the side replacing Brice Ntambwe, struggling with fitness, and Tom Hamer.
To add to this, ahead of kick-off the referee, Scott Oldham, was replaced by the Fourth Official, Richard Bartlett, after he sustained an injury in his warm-up.
The Stags started the early stages on the front foot, but were dealt a hammer blow in the sixth minute as McAleny produced great work down the left-wing before cutting inside and delivering to the far post. The cross found Alfie McCalmont and the Leeds United loanee managed to get a shot underway, straight at the goalkeeper, however the effort went through the hands of Aidan Stone to give the hosts the lead.
McCalmont looked in the mood and, just minutes later, he pressed Ryan Sweeney and managed to intercept their captain before racing clean through, but his low strike was denied by the legs of the shot-stopper.
The Yellows should’ve been level when Stephen McLaughlin’s corner managed to evade everybody and find the onrushing Sweeney, but the former Bristol Rovers man couldn’t keep his effort down from close range with the goal at his mercy.
Nigel Clough’s side turned the first-half on its head by scoring two in two minutes, the first came in the 36th minute as Ian Lawlor raced out and punched a cross straight into the path of Harry Charsley and he smashed a volley first-time into an empty net.
Straight after kick-off, Mansfield won a free-kick inside the Latics half and the delivery was met by Sweeney at the back post and he managed to flick into the back of the net.
Momentum in full-swing, the visitors searched for more and had the chance to extend their lead from 12-yards. George Maris dribbled into the box and encouraged Raphael Diarra into making a foul and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Jordan Bowery, who’s scored six in his last four games, stepped up but blasted his penalty wide of the post.
The gaffer didn’t mess around at half-time, making three changes with the introduction of Zak Dearnley, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson and Dylan Fage.
However, only five minutes into the second-half and the Stags extended their lead as Jamie Reid found himself in behind the backline and kept his cool whilst running through to slot into the far bottom corner past Lawlor.
Town nearly sealed all three points when Charlton Athletic loanee, George Lapslie, found space around 25-yards out and smashed an effort goalwards before cannoning off the bar and, fortunately, out for a goal kick.
The boys in blue attempted to stage a comeback when McAleny netted his 14th of the campaign as substitute Danny Rowe’s deflected strike fell perfectly to the dangerous attacker and he raced in and curled around Stone into the net.
Harry Kewell’s men pushed for an equaliser and came so close to finding a leveller when a cross from the right found Rowe at the back stick and his header looked destined for the bottom corner, but the goalkeeper produced a fine stop to deny him with Mansfield managing to hold onto the win.
Oldham Athletic XI – Lawlor (GK), Clarke, Piergianni ©, Garrity, Whelan, Keillor-Dunn, Barnett, McAleny, Diarra, Bahamboula, McCalmont.
Subs – Biboe (GK), Borthwick-Jackson, Rowe, Fage, Dearnley, Badan, Hamer.
Goals: McCalmont 6’, McAleny 84’
Mansfield Town XI – Stone (GK), Sweeney ©, Rawson, Charsley, Bowery, Maris, Cook, Gordon, Reid, McLaughlin, Lapslie.
Subs – Stech (GK), O’Keeffe, Benning, Menayese, O’Driscoll, Maynard, Law.
Goals: Charsley 36’, Sweeney 38, Reid 49’
Referee – Scott Oldham replaced by Richard Bartlett.