Written by Gary Skinner, Oldham Athletic season ticket holder. Follow him on Twitter @GaryS1906
Oldham Athletic 3 Mansfield Town 2
Oldham Athletic overcame automatic promotion hopefuls Mansfield Town at Boundary Park on Easter Monday in what was on excellent advertisement for League 2 football.
Pete Wild’s team made it 6 games unbeaten since he took over the reins again following Paul Scholes departure. Mansfield were sitting in 2nd position in the league table and were looking to strengthen their hopes of automatic promotion, Oldham lying in mid table but still clinging to the chance of grabbing a play off spot.
Mohamad Sylla came into the midfield in place of the injured Jose Baxter, while Chris O’Grady returned to the starting line up after being a substitute in the previous game away at Cheltenham.
Both sides contributed to an even start to the game, both striving to get the important opening goal, Callum Lang thought he’d got it after only 5 minutes but the referee had already blown for offside. Lang had another effort from the edge of the box which flew just high and wide of the far post.
Mansfield’s first real attempt on goal came in the 20th minute when Nottingham Forest loanee, Tyler Walker tried his luck from 25 yards but his shot was always rising and didn’t trouble Iversen in the Oldham goal.
The breakthrough came in the 29th minute when Maouche played a slide-rule pass through to Nepomuceno who was able to run onto the ball without breaking stride before slipping the ball underneath keeper Logan in the Mansfield goal to put the Latics in front. It was no more than Oldham deserved with Maouche in particular impressing in his creative midfield role.
Sweeney powered a header over the bar for Mansfield from a corner on 35 minutes when he should perhaps have done better. There was still time for Lang to have a shot blocked on the edge of the area before the referee blew his whistle to end what was an entertaining first half between two sides looking for a win.
Mansfield captain Krystian Pearce almost equalised within two minutes of the restart but a header back across goal seemed to catch him by surprise and he was unable to get any power into his shot and Iversen saved comfortably.
Latics began to apply more pressure though and it came as no surprise when they doubled their lead on 55 minutes. Lang having managed to spin away from Benning in the corner played the ball to Sylla who put in a cross that was headed out to Nepomuceno who cut inside onto his right foot before hitting a shot that was initially blocked by a Mansfield defender but Maouche was the quickest to react and he was able to spin and lash the ball home from six yards out.
Mansfield hit back almost immediately however when following an Iversen goal kick, a cushioned header from the impressive Benning resulted in some neat one touch passing which saw Walker through on goal and he finished smartly, his shot from the edge of the box going through the legs of Iversen.
Latics weren’t finished though and when a long throw from Hamer was only half cleared the ball fell invitingly for Nepomuceno who smashed home an unstoppable shot into the top corner of the Mansfield net for a stunning goal. The game really opened up now and Lang had an excellent chance to make it four but in a one-on-one with the keeper he saw his shot blocked by Logan.
Nepomuceno flashed a cross across the face of goal but neither O’Grady or Lang could apply the finishing touch. In the 76th minute Mansfield got their second following a corner which the Latics defence only half cleared, it fell to Bishop who was able to spin and shoot from 18 yards into the bottom corner and out of Iversens reach.
Chances for both sides continued to present themselves. Missilou released O’Grady but his shot was deflected wide, and at the other end Walker blazed over when a little more composure was required.
It was a nail biting finish for Latics supporters as Mansfield pressed for an equaliser and in the dying seconds they thought they’d got it when a shot from Mellis came back off the post and Rose hit home the rebound from close range only for the linesman on the far side to raise his flag for offside. Television replays showed the decision was very very tight and may not have been a correct one.
The final whistle followed almost immediately however and Pete Wild and Oldham`s unbeaten run was stretched to six games. Despite Latics turbulent season the play offs are still there for them if they can win their 3 remaining fixtures, two of whom are against teams above them in the table.
Attendance: 6,179 (1,334 away)