Oldham Athletic 2-1 Walsall
11/10/2014 - 15:00
A below par Walsall slipped to a disappointing defeat as Oldham claimed a deserved three points.
The home side started the brighter but it was the Saddlers who took surprise lead after 10 minutes with their first attack of the game. An aimless punt forward/exquisite 50 yard pass (delete as appropriate) by Andy Butler found Jordan Cook who ran on behind the Oldham defence and slotted the ball home as though it was the easiest thing in the world.
If the Saddlers were going to take the game by the scruff of the neck it had to be then, and for a few minutes we threatened to as Cook had two chances to double our lead. Firstly he fired narrowly over after collecting a low James O`Connor cross, and then from the resulting goal kick collected the ball again and curled narrowly over from distance.
But from that point on, Oldham took control of the game and were the better side for much of it. Andy Butler and Paul Downing both playing very well in the centre of defence, but getting very little protection by a weak central midfield and two poor full backs.
A couple of snapshots from the home side threatened to pull them level without actually doing so, but it wasn`t really a surprise to anyone when the equaliser came on the half hour mark. A single shimmy was enough to beat O`Connor all ends up at right back, and a low cross from the left was slammed in by Wilkinson.
A flashpoint just before half time as Poleon, the Oldham number 9, almost snapped Butler in half with a crude challenge. When this was ignored by the ref Butler took so shoulder barging Poleon on his way back past him. Poleon responded like the school bully who`d just been hit back, and managed to earn Butler a yellow card. Anyone who saw Izale McLeod get Danny Hay sent off at Derby back in about 2003 will know exactly the sort of behaviour I`m talking about.
Happily we got to half time at 11 a side, and you hoped Deano would sort them out at half time and bring them out playing a little better as, on the balance of play, we were going to struggle to get anything from the game.
As it happened we didn`t improve, and we didn`t get anything from the game. To be fair, we did look slightly better once Manset came on and we changed shape, and at the time the winner came the game was about as even as it had been all afternoon. But a 30 yard rocket from Jones smashed in off the underside of the bar leaving O`Donnell with no chance.
We huffed and puffed trying to get back into the game but, once Oldham had shut up shop and invited us to break them down, and without Romaine Sawyers and the injured Tom Bradshaw it was never going to happen.
All in all a disappointing day. Must do better.