Written by Gary Skinner @GaryS1906
Oldham Athletic and Carlisle United fought out an entertaining 1-1 draw at Boundary Park on Saturday.
Oldham manager Dino Maamria made three changes to the starting lineup.
Goalkeeper Zeus De La Paz returned in goal to take over from the injured Gary Woods. Gevaro Nepomuceno and David Jones made way for Mohamed Maouche and new signing Danny Rowe, the latter making his debut for the club since his move from AFC Fylde.
The game also marked home debuts for loanees Christian N’Guessan and Carl Piergianni, on loan from Burnley and Salford respectively.
Latics started the game very brightly and it took Rowe only two minutes to get his first shot on goal, just pulling his left footed effort wide of the post.
On five minutes Latics had the ball in the net, Maouche putting Azankpo through on goal but his effort was ruled out for offside, although it looked to be a very tight decision.
Oldham continued to dominate possession and were playing some excellent attacking football but it was the visitors who took the lead in the 25th minute very much against the run of play.
A neat one-two saw Thomas drive into the penalty area, clipping a cross which was easily headed into the bottom corner by centre half Byron Webster to give the Cumbrians the lead with virtually their first serious attack of the match.
Not surprisingly the goal seemed to affect Latics’ confidence and rhythm and the game became much more even as Carlisle took the initiative.
Oldham had a great chance to equalise however when after a strong run by Missilou he was able to find Smith who hit his shot wide of the far post when it looked like he should have done better.
It took only two minutes though for Smith to make amends. A crossfield pass from Maouche was mis-controlled by Carlisle full back Jones, Smith capitalised to hit a shot from the edge of the box which deceived Collin in the Carlisle goal, possibly with the help of a slight deflection.
The first half ended all square but Latics could be happy with their overall performance.
Carlisle started the second half brightly, forcing two corners in quick succession before Hallam Hope hit a cracking shot from 22 yards that was superbly turned around the post by De La Paz.
McKirdy blazed high over the bar after being found by the impressive Thomas who was causing problems for the Oldham defence.
A free kick on the edge of the Latics area saw a shot by Scougall saved by De La Paz, McKirdy unable to convert his header from the rebound.
Substitute Zak Dearnley was brought on for Scott Wilson – himself a first half substitute – and he almost made an instant impact. A strong run and cross by another substitute Sylla came just too quickly for Dearnley and he was only able to instinctively toe poke his effort wide of the post.
Jonny Smith had a tame shot comfortably saved and Rowe saw a thunderbolt effort hit a central defender in the face with the Carlisle player needing treatment.
In the end the honours were even but Latics will have been disappointed to only get a point from the game.
Plus points for Maamria however would have been the dominant performance of Piergianni at the back, Jonny Smith maintaining his excellent form, and debutant Danny Rowe who will undoubtedly provide a much needed goal threat as he settles into his new role.
Goals are always the key to winning games and if Latics can remain strong in defence and increase their goal tally at the other end they could easily climb the table in the second half of the season.
Images from Oldham Times & Newsandstar