Written by Gary Skinner
Oldham Athletic enjoyed an excellent 3-0 victory at home to Bradford City on Saturday. Manager Dino Maamria named an unchanged team from the midweek win against Mansfield Town. Latics started the game brightly with the central midfield duo of Mo Sylla and Christopher Missilou asserting their authority in the middle, providing good service for the strikers and wingers.
It took only 10 minutes for Oldham to take the lead. Zak Dearnley capitalising on a slip by O’Connor and the Latics striker took the ball into the area before hitting his shot past Bradford keeper Richard O’Donnell for his first goal since rejoining the club in January.
Nine minutes later and the lead was doubled. Jonny Smith collected the ball from Nepomuceno out on the right wing. Cutting inside to the edge of the area he hit a low left footed shot beyond the reach of O’Donnell and into the far corner of the net to notch up his 7th goal of the season. It was no more than Oldham deserved as they had taken the game by the scruff of the neck and were dominating the early stages.
Danny Rowe showed his strength by holding off 3 defenders, twisting and turning before hitting a shot that the Bradford keeper did well to turn away. In the 30th minute goalscorer Dearnley pulled up injured and was replaced by Mohammed Maouche. It wasn’t until the 40th minute that Bradford had their first effort on goal. Clayton Donaldson connecting with a cross from O’Connor but his right footed effort was well wide of the post.
A third goal for Oldham very nearly came when a cross from Smith was met awkwardly by Bradford centre half Ben Richards-Everton, his header from a bouncing ball narrowly clearing his own crossbar with the goalkeeper beaten. Latics did score again though just before half time. A free kick pumped forward by Wheater was flicked on by Rowe and Mohamed Maouche was quickest to react, nipping in between two defenders and hitting his close range shot through the legs of the Bradford keeper.
The first half ended 3-0, Bradford looking shell shocked but the Latics team received a standing ovation from the home crowd as they left the pitch at half time.
Athletic started the second half in the same manner and with the same control on the game. Smith had a shot from outside the box turned away by the keeper, the rebound fell to Nepomuceno who hit a low left footed shot goal bound but it just lacked power and was a little too close to O’Donnell.
Missilou also tried his luck from 20 yards out but again O’Donnell was able to turn the ball around the post for a corner.
The chances were coming thick and fast for the home side who were pressing for a fourth goal. Yet another chance came in the 62nd minute when Zak Mills – on as a substitute for Nepomuceno – slipped his marker but failed to make solid contact on a corner from Smith when only 3 yards out.
Bradford recorded their first shot on target in the 70th minute but Shay McCartens’ direct free kick was comfortably saved by de la Paz. The effort drawing ironic cheers from the disgruntled away supporters.
A header from Richards-Everton followed quickly afterwards but it went harmlessly wide, and that was the extent of Bradfords efforts on goal. At the other end Maouche had a left foot shot turned away by O’Donnell, and then the same player produced a strong run from well inside his own half, outstripping the Bradford midfielders before hitting a shot from inside the penalty area which O’Donnell was able to save again.
In the end the scoreline remained at 3-0 but in truth the home side could easily have scored 6 or 7 and Bradford could have had no complaints. Mohamed Maouche won the sponsors man of the match award, no mean feat when only coming on as a substitute, but in truth there would have been 5 or 6 other candidates in what was another excellent team performance following on from the one in midweek against Mansfield.
The away teams performance was dire and subsequently manager Gary Bowyer was sacked as Bradford attempt to revive their push for a play off place.
For the Latics though, the signs are very encouraging. The January transfer window has seen the team strengthened and it now looks to have a much better balance about it. A tough away trip to promotion chasing Crewe is next but in this current run of form anything can happen, and the Latics – and their vociferous away support – can go there with confidence high.
Images courtesy of Telegraph and Argus & Oldham Athletic.