By Jordan Webb
Reds extended their unbeaten run to five games in League One after a 1-0 win over an Oldham side who gave as good as they got for long stages at the Checkatrade.com Stadium.
Joe Walsh’s fourth goal of the season gave Reds an early lead and although Paul Jones was in great form at the other end the hosts had chances in the second half to have made the game safe.
Richie Barker named an unchanged side from last week’s 1-1 draw at Colchester and his appeals for a quick start by his side were answered just five minutes in.
From a short corner routine, Mat Sadler’s cross caused chaos in the Oldham penalty area. Kyle McFadzean headed it into the six-yard box, Nicky Adams’ volley was blocked and when the ball fell loose Walsh lashed it high into the net.
Oldham’s best chance came midway through the first half when Charlie MacDonald was put through with only Jones to beat but the keeper made a sprawling save to deny the former Crawley striker.
The Checkatrade.com Stadium was united in applause in the 28th minute to remember Ernie Cooksey, who played for both sides, and two minutes later the Latics went close again when MacDonald’s header came back off the post and Kyle McFadzean blocked Jonson Clarke-Harris’s follow-up effort.
Reds looked certain to go two up when Emile Sinclair was put through on goal, leaving goalkeeper Mark Oxley stranded but he struck the outside of the post from a tight angle on the right.
The first chance of the second half fell to Oldham just two minutes in when James Dayton’s cross found MacDonald but his delicate header came back off the bar and Jones punched it to safety in a crowded six-yard box.
Reds looked certain to grab a another 20 minutes from time when Adams squared it found to Billy Clarke, but James Tarkowski produced a brilliant intervention when the striker seemed set to score.
The pair combined again but Adams was again denied and in the closing stages another Reds’ break left Adams in space. His pass to Sergio Torres was helped on but Adams was denied by the legs of Oxley.
Quite how the game ended with just one goal on the scoresheet is hard to believe but Reds won’t mind after claiming three precious points.