Paul Penderghast thought Oldham's game at Victoria Park would end in defeat as usual... he was wrong!
Depleted Latics produce brave win
I cannot help but feel we have been here before, last season the team challenged for the Play-Offs right up until the end of February. The wheels came off with a 5-0 battering at home to Peterborough.
Until then the team had been pretty consistent. This year, although not troubling the top 6, hope sprang eternal of cup success. The league form up until Christmas had been steady, with fans buoyed by an upcoming trip to Anfield and a two-legged northern final in the JPT to look forward to.
Whilst we all enjoyed our night out at Anfield, the JPT semi-final was a nightmare, 40 odd attempts on goal and only one goal to show for it over the two legs, saw the team lose 3-1 on aggregate.
Since then it has all gone rather flat at Boundary Park, injuries like last season have take their toll, with Paul Dickov losing his first choice midfield partnership in Dean Furman and James Wesolowski. Last season we lost the afore mentioned Furman and Dale Stephens - the latter leaving for Southampton on March deadline day.
At that time we were in the middle of a run of 12 games without a win, including 6 straight defeats. So, when Latics went down to a 3-2 derby defeat at Rochdale (despite Shefki Kuqi's wonder goal), it was their fourth straight defeat and alarm bells were ringing. A lengthening injury list, suspensions biting and a team that needed less of a coach and more of a nursery nurse such is the average age of the team!
So, I could be forgiven for dreading last night's game at Hartlepool, kids in midfield, kids in defence supplemented by the old war horse Kuqi up front arrived at Victoria Park, a ground that has been a graveyard for Oldham Athletic since the Poolies first return to the third tier in 2003.
The fanbase had mostly resigned themselves to a fifth straight defeat, thank goodness the team did not. They went on to grind out the type of result that every team needs a few times over a season to achieve success. Success to some is promotion, success to a club like Oldham Athletic is merely survival, and despite those four straight defeats in March - a run where fans (myself included) where getting increasingly worried and looking over our shoulders, as our safety cushion began to shrink.
Results like last night are why we are all football fans and if you had told me we would win two out of six games so far in March, I would have shrugged my shoulders and thought 'meh', however in typical Latics style the two games we have been successful in have both been away at promotion chasers Sheffield United after being 2-0 down with 20 minutes to go, and at our traditional graveyard Victoria Park I would have said you were mad!
But that's why we love football, the unpredictability - especially in the Npower League! So a big well done to our bruised, depleted and battered troops. For me it was the result of Oldham Athletic's season. Football... Bloody Hell!
Onwards and Upwards