Latics could be set to finally return to National League action when fellow promotion hopefuls Barnet visit Boundary Park on Tuesday evening.
16 days since their last league outing in their 1-0 win at Dorking Wanderers, Oldham have had their last two scheduled clashes ruled out due to the icy conditions.
The stakes remain the same for Latics, who remain well in the hunt for a playoff spot come the end of the campaign whilst a second victory over playoff rivals Barnet this season would be a statement of intent.
Latics’ 4-1 win in the reverse fixture earlier in the season was a highlight of boss Micky Mellon’s tenure thus far, who has won seven of his 13 league games in charge and speared the club into the heart of the playoff picture.
Though despite their stellar away form in recent weeks, their slight dip at home will be a sight that Mellon will want to change. Their 2-0 win over Hartlepool in their final fixture of 2023 broke a winless home run of seven games at Boundary Park.
The Bees meanwhile have turned a fresh corner, ironically that has coincided with the turn of the new year. Barnet have won five of their last six in all competitions and firmly hold an automatic playoff spot in their grasp.
A 2-1 win at Radcliffe FC in the fourth round of the Isuzu FA Trophy saw Barnet manage a nervy final 20 minutes after Marvin Armstrong’s second of his brace put the visitors in front minutes before that mark.
Barnet had previously knocked off Maidstone United in the third round before edging past Radcliffe, whilst the Bees will now go on to face National League South outfit Welling United at Park View Road in round five.
The Bees’ league form has particularly seen an upturn, wins in four of their last five has kept the race for second and third exclusively for Bromley and Barnet for the time being, the latter of which hold a comfortable nine-point gap to Solihull Moors in fourth.
It has been a disappointing turn of events meanwhile for the Bees, who were in touch of league leaders Chesterfield, but four successive defeats in November has seen the Spireites extend their lead at the summit.
Like Latics’ form at home, the Bees will hope to see an improvement to their form on the road. Just two wins in their last five will be on the list of priorities for improvement, with a 3-2 loss at Altrincham their last outing away.
Like many of the top National League sides this season, having a top class goalscorer in your ranks seems to breed success, whilst Barnet certainly hold one.
Nicke Kabamba’s 17 league goals this season and his average of a goal every 85 minutes trail only Eastleigh’s Paul McCallum, whilst the forward has been a driving force behind Barnet’s season thus far.
He can be described as a ‘traditional’ number nine. The use of his body and hold-up play are both exemplary, not to mention his finishing touch. His terrific spin and snap volley at Ebbsfleet a prime example of his instincts in front of goal.
Talk about instincts, this piece of striker play against Boreham in late December was superb. Kabamba knew exactly where the trailing defender was when he found himself in on goal, whilst his awareness and consecutive touches ensured he kept his man on the back foot.
The 30-year-old has also proven his ability to be a match winner for the Bees, his poacher’s effort against Fylde in injury time shows just that. Another centre forward that cannot be afforded time in the box, Latics will have more than a handful to deal with.
In the dugout
Boss Dean Brennan will be eager to go two steps further than their previous showing in the National League. The Irishman has been at the forefront of Barnet’s improvement since his permanent appointment in February 2022.
In by far his longest managerial stint, Brennan picked up a Barnet side struggling for safety in England’s fifth tier, though he was able to guide the club to a relatively comfortable gap to the drop zone.
The following 2022/23 season saw immediate improvements from the Bees under Brennan in just his first full season in charge, spearheading the club right into the playoffs where they were unfortunately beaten by Boreham in the Quarter-Final.
Playoff football meanwhile is firmly in their hands this season with a return in sight for Brennan and his men. A strong season thus far will provide encouragement for Bees fans despite a brief falter, who will hope to see their side back in the EFL for the first time in six years.
The referee will be Andrew Miller, alongside his assistants Jacob Graham and Jonathan Chadwick. The fourth official is Elliot Bell.
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.