Oldham Athletic will welcome National League football back to Boundary Park when they host Maidenhead United in midweek.
Latics enjoyed a solid run of consecutive trips, picking up four points from six before their return to their home turf on Tuesday. They shared the spoils at Grosvenor Lane, playing out a 1-1 draw with Wealdstone that saw Oldham into the top half for the first time this season.
Alex Reid continued his good form in front of goal, coolly wrongfooting the defender before slotting home. It was the forwards third of the season and his third in four fixtures that broke the deadlock in an evenly matched contest at the half hour mark.
Wealdstone hit back in rapid fashion. Sam Bowen netted his third in four games, hitting a powerful snapshot from the edge into the bottom corner after receiving a neat pass from captain Jack Cook.
Mathew Hudson made a vital stop on the cusp of half-time, getting an important touch to a cross that diverted the ball away from danger. Devarn Green could have continued his good form for Oldham, but the winger blazed a huge chance over the bar with just over 15 minutes left.
Steve Thompson will be pleased to have no fresh team news as the fixtures keep rolling in the National League. Josh Lundstram made his first appearance for the club off the bench at the weekend, whilst the midfielder will be keen to get more minutes under his belt.
The visitors meanwhile secured an unlikely but impressive point at York Road against table toppers Chesterfield last time out. Tobi Sho-Silva bundled in Maidenhead’s first goal in over seven hours of football before Michael Jacobs whipped in an excellent equaliser.
The result left Maidenhead in the final relegation spot in the National League, though a win could create some needed breathing room still so early in the season.
Following a strong first five games of the season where Maidenhead picked up eight points from 15 and only lost once in the opening seven fixtures, it has been a struggle to collect National League points since that run.
The 1-1 draw with Chesterfield was their first in six fixtures, though it meant Maidenhead extended their winless run to nine games now. It did however snap their run of five consecutive defeats before the weekend.
Maidenhead more than held their own against the league leaders across the ninety. A poor defensive clearance from Jamie Grimes led to the first goal of the afternoon.
Jaydon Mitchell-Lawson picked up the loose ball on the right and fizzed in a low cross into a sea of bodies, where Sho-Silva managed to force the ball over the line to give the hosts an unlikely lead at York Road.
Both sides had exchanged opportunities before then, but neither were able to convert. Maidenhead’s resistance was broken though by the visitors, who through a lovely bit of patient build up play, finally found an equaliser minutes before the hour mark.
Ollie Banks’ penetrative pass found Liam Mandeville whose lay off allowed Jacobs to strike a wonderful first-time effort into the top corner which was his second of the season.
The remaining half an hour was eventful to say the least. Will Grigg just minutes later was unable to convert a glorious chance when found in on goal. Harry Tyrer in the Chesterfield goal was forced to make two strong stops to deny Sam Backwith and Chanka Zimba in the final 20 minutes.
The away side were perhaps controversially denied two penalties by referee Jason Richardson in that period, which may just have secured Maidenhead a vital point.
The main issue for the Magpies so far this season has clearly been in front of goal. Sho-Silva's goal was just the clubs eighth of the campaign, which ranks second lowest across the National League in 2023/24.
They have however maintained a solid defensive record in comparison to those around them in the standings. Maidenhead have the joint second-best record when it comes to conceding goals (17), although 12 of those have come in their last six.
Maidenhead have also struggled on the road this campaign so far. Their only win came on matchday two in a 2-0 win at Dorking Wanderers, whilst their last point away from home was at Kidderminster in late August.
It doesn’t bid for good reading as they come up against a Latics side who are unbeaten in their last three at Boundary Park without conceding, though a similar performance on Tuesday could encourage Maidenhead that results will come their way.
Although Maidenhead are not setting the world alight in front of goal, Mitchell-Lawson has certainly been a bright spark for the Magpies in the attacking third of the pitch when he is found by his teammates.
A sharp assist at the weekend showed just a glimpse of what the forward can do. Alive to pick up loose possession and produce quality at the final moment to present a goalscoring opportunity to his teammate.
The 24-year-old joined in the summer from Ayr United FC and has started in all 11 of his appearances for the club, and though he hasn’t got off the mark with a goal thus far he certainly has the qualities to trouble National League backlines.
Mitchell-Lawson can play on either flank but has shown to be more effective off the left. His performance against Altrincham a few weeks ago was a prime example as to what he can do.
Direct and aggressive, he can take it down the line or drive inside, the forward will provide a huge threat week in week out for Maidenhead. Oldham will have to be aware of the danger he will pose, whilst the visitors will hope Mitchell-Lawson can produce some National League magic.
In the hot seat
Entering his 28th season as a manager Alan Devonshire has enjoyed a long career in the hot seat. The 67-year-old retired as a Watford player following the 1991/92 season and went on to
begin his managerial career at Maidenhead for his first spell at the club at the start of the 96/97 campaign.
Devonshire has always enjoyed long periods at each club he has managed, lasting until 2003 he was in charge of 298 fixtures, most notably securing promotion to the Isthmian Premier Division in the 99/00 season following a third-place finish.
Then keeping Maidenhead in the league for the following three seasons before moving on to Isthmian League Division One side Hampton & Richmond Borough for eight seasons.
A strong fifth place finish began his tenure off well before a change of divisions placed Hampton & Richmond in the Premier Division for the 2004/05 season. Devonshire had certainly gelled with this side, finishing sixth then fifth before winning the title to join what is now known as the National League South.
His next spell came at Braintree, where in four seasons he was unable to achieve promotion despite consistent improvement every season. Since returning to Maidenhead for his second stint at the club, it has been his longest run with now over 3,000 days in charge.
A seventh-place finish in the 16/17 season was followed impressively by a title winning season in the National League South where his side got 98 points whilst scoring 93 times and conceding just 29.
Devonshire however since has struggled to get Maidenhead firing in the National League, having narrowly avoided relegation last season whilst it hasn’t been an ideal start to the season this time around.
With just 11 points gained from 13 fixtures, a win would whilst brief, relieve some pressure on Maidenhead and give the club and manager an opportunity to turn a new corner. Oldham await at Boundary Park, where a win could continue a good run for one side and end a bad run for the other.
The referee will be John Mulligan, assisted by Matt Archibald and Alan Hull. The fourth official will be Adewunmi Soneye.
Match coverage and information
Live audio commentary is available on Latics Player, guiding you through the match.
Alternatively, supporters can also follow the game with live updates on the club's official Twitter account: @OfficialOAFC
As this game is not being played within the blocked broadcast hours stipulated by UEFA, live streaming will be available through National League TV for supporters in the UK and overseas.
As always, we will endeavour to ensure confirmation of the line-up is published as soon as possible on social media.
However, supporters should note that team sheets in the National League are not exchanged until an hour before kick-off. This is 15 minutes later than in the EFL and as a result, the line-up is likely to be published slightly later than in previous seasons.