Written by Gary Skinner – Follow him on Twitter @GaryS1906
Oldham Athletic gained a hard fought draw at Port Vale on Saturday.
Despite the heavy rain ruling out several matches in the EFL, the Vale Park pitch looked in excellent condition. A credit to the Port Vale ground staff.
Dino Maamria named an unchanged starting 11 for the first time since taking over, the only change being on the bench where Mo Sylla came back after serving a one match ban.
Port Vale started the brighter side and enjoyed much of the possession early on. Jake Taylor should have put the home side ahead after only five minutes, but he somehow missed the target from only six yards out.
Zeus de la Paz was being kept busy in the Oldham goal, having to deal with crosses and corners as Vale searched for the opening goal.
Gibbons tried his luck from fully 35 yards out but pulled his shot well wide.
The Latics had to rely on counter attacking on the break and Azankpo had their first shot after 16 minutes but his left foot shot from inside the area was blocked by a defender. Nathan Smith almost put the home side ahead on 24 minutes when he took control of a header back across by Bennett, chesting the ball down before turning and hitting a left foot shot that de la Paz was able to save with his feet in the centre of the goal before the Latics defence cleared the ball.
Former Athletic player Cristian Montano had a shot turned away at the near post as Port Vale continued to threaten the Oldham goal. Filipe Morais created space for himself on the edge of the Port Vale area but blazed his shot high and wide from a promising position. Chris McCann had Latics best chance in the first half. His long range effort going just over the crossbar. Vale finished the half with a string of corners but the Oldham defence stood firm.
The second half saw Oldham come out much more on the front foot and had much more possession than in the first. A training ground corner saw Smith pick out Tom Hamer lurking outside the penalty area and his volley although on target was comfortably saved by Scott Brown in the Port Vale goal.
A typically strong run from Missilou saw him brush off several would-be tacklers before playing a lofted ball for Azankpo to run onto but the Benin striker pulled his left foot shot wide and across the face of goal.
The Latics midfield and defence had a much stronger grip on the game in the second half and Port Vales chances were few and far between. The home side had appeals for a penalty when Stott showed good strength in holding Atkinson off in the penalty area but the referee correctly waved play on.
Latics had late chances to clinch the three points. Firstly when Smith put across a dangerous ball for Azankpo but he could not get a clean enough contact on the ball and his effort went over the bar, and then with time running out, a good run by Eagles saw the ball laid off to Missilou who completely miskicked from the edge of the area when he had two Latics players better placed outside him. That saw the end of the action with a draw being a fair result although both managers probably felt that their team should have won it.
Main image courtesy of Stoke Sentinel.