Written by Gary Skinner.
The first home league game of Laurent Banides’ tenure as Oldham Athletic head coach ended in disappointment for Latics fans as Crewe Alexandra took all 3 points back to Gresty Road.
Oldham were without new signing David Wheater who was recovering from a slight injury, and lined up with Woods in goal, a back four of Hamer, Stott, Sefil and Smith-Brown (on loan from Plymouth). The midfield was made up of Mills, Missilou, Maouche and Branger-Engone, whilst up front was Vera and Wilson.
Latics got off to the best possible start with Christopher Missilou’s looping header from a Tom Hamer cross putting them ahead with only two minutes on the clock.
That early success though was soon neutralised by a Crewe side who were well organised and quick on the counter attack. They showed no sign of a hangover from their 3-0 home defeat on the first weekend of the season at the hands of promotion fancied Plymouth Argyle.
The equalising goal came in the 21st minute and it came as no surprise as the away side had already started to impose themselves on the game.
A firmly hit cross from Tom Lowery was headed up and over Woods by former Oldham striker Chris Porter.
Crewe continued to dominate the game, creating numerous chances. Only missing out on taking the lead by a combination of poor finishing and good goalkeeping by Woods in the Oldham goal.
Chances were missed by Green, Powell and Porter. As for Latics the chances were much less frequent but Mills did have an excellent shot from the edge of the box turned away by Jaaskelainen.
Crewe’s second goal came in the 41st minute when Powell wriggled away from a challenge by Smith-Brown only to be brought down inside the box by Missilou. Porter hit the spot kick into the centre of goal and despite Woods managing to get a foot to the ball, Crewe were 2-1 up.
Latics could have no complaints as the visitors could easily have been two or three goals in front in the first half.
Oldham made two substitutions at half time, Nepomuceno and Segbe Azankpo replacing Mills and Vera respectively.
The second half however followed a similar pattern to the first. Crewe continued to dominate the midfield, were Latics could neither provide adequate cover for the defence, nor create much meaningful creative support for the strikers.
It was Crewe who created the better chances as they had done in the first half.
Latics did have a chance to equalise very late on but Azankpo put his left foot shot just wide of the far post, although a draw for Oldham would have been very harsh on Crewe.
The Latics man of the match was goalkeeper Gary Woods which tells its own story and is not what any home side would ideally want.
Wheater, when fully fit should bring some stability and leadership to the defence, but surely they still need to strengthen in midfield and maybe another striker is needed as well.
It would be fair to say that with all the new personnel at the club that Latics are still very much a work in progress.
The next two league games, Bradford (away) and Exeter (home) are difficult fixtures at any time of the season but Latics need to get their act together very quickly if they aren’t to be rooted at the foot of the table.