First half goal earns Oldham 1-0 win
A first half goal from Danny Philliskirk settled a hard-fought encounter at a wet and windy Boundary Park as Reds’ second half pressure couldn’t quite be turned into an equaliser.
Paul Rachubka made excellent saves from Billy Clarke and substitute Jamie Proctor during Reds’ best spell around the hour mark but Oldham defended resolutely and will feel they deserved to win after dominating the first period.
John Gregory made one change to the side that beat Wolves 2-1 in midweek with Dannie Bulman dropping out of the squad and Sullay Kaikai coming into the side for his second start.
The game kicked off in a torrential hailstorm that quickly left standing water on the pitch but the relegation-threatened hosts made light of the conditions and began on the front foot.
Gary Harkins, who was a constant threat on Oldham’s left, forced Paul Jones to make a one-handed save from his well-struck drive after four minutes.
Reds responded Rachubka stood up to block Joe Walsh’s effort on the angle of the six-yard box after the hosts failed to clear a corner.
But it was a rare moment of worry for the hosts who were soon back in control. Harkins threatened again when he cut inside only to see his shot blocked by a combination of Mike Jones and Mark Connolly.
Oldham, however, didn’t have to wait long before taking an 18th-minute lead. Both Harkins and James Wesolowski were involved to set up PHILLISKIRK whose shot from 12 yards flew into the top corner, giving Jones no chance.
Kaikai and Clarke swapped positions but Reds just couldn’t get going. They occasionally had good spells of possession but it was Oldham’s attack who carried the greater threat and they were inches away from a second on 39 minutes when David Worrall spun ten yards out but his shot drifted just wide.
Walsh produced a great tackle on Wesolowski and followed that by bravely blocking Philliskirk’s drive as Oldham ended the half disappointed they weren’t more than a goal to the good.
Reds made two changes at the break as Jamie Proctor and Paul Connolly replaced Kaikai and Mark Connolly but it was Oldham who had the first chance of the second half when Jonson Clarke-Harris let fly from 20 yards and the ball flew just wide of Jones’ right-hand post.
Reds then sprung to life and were denied an equaliser by a brilliant save from Rachubka on 56 minutes. Matt Tubbs flicked on Mike Jones’ cross to Billy Clarke but his volley was kept out one-handed by the Latics’ keeper. Moments later Clarke’s shot was blocked then Proctor got on the end of Connolly’s cross but headed straight at Rachubka.
Crawley were in control at this stage and although Clarke-Harris fired straight at Jones in a counter-attack it was Rachubka who was much busier. He raced out of goal to save at Tubbs’ feet then was relieved to see Jones’ well-struck effort from 15 yards take a deflection and go wide. The midfielder had another sight of goal on 70 minutes but Rachubka got right behind his shot.
In the closing stages Oldham regrouped and twice went close to a second through ex-Red Charlie MacDonald, whose shot was blocked, and Clarke-Harris, who stumbled over his own feet when he seemed certain to slide home a cross from another substitute James Dayton.
Oldham safely negotiated five minutes of stoppage time to cling on to a much-needed three points.