Crewe Alexandra slipped to the second home defeat of the season as Paul Dickov’s Oldham Athletic side deservedly won 2-0 at Gresty Road this evening. The Latics created the majority of the chances over the 90 minutes and it was a genuine surprise that it took just over the hour mark for them to take the lead after a set-piece routine. Their substitute defender James Tarkowski stole in at the far post to head past Alan Martin and into the roof of the net.
The experienced Matt Derbyshire slid in a second and deceive goal on 79 minutes to virtually end Crewe’s hopes of acquiring anything from this home fixture, although captain Luke Murphy did strike the crossbar with a wonderfully taken free-kick in the final minute.
With Mathias Pogba returning from injury and Chuks Aneke from suspension, manager Steve Davis elected to change his line-up bringing them back in and leaving Max Clayton on the substitutes’ bench. Andy Bond made his home return after joining us on loan from Colchester United.
Oldham Athletic didn’t look short of confidence as they took the game to Crewe in the opening minutes. Only a wonderful reflex save from Alan Martin prevented Lee Croft from giving the Latics a second minute lead after some good approach play from Matt Derbyshire. Martin produced a stunning save and continued to be busy in the first period.
The Crewe goalkeeper was able to watch a couple of efforts from full-back Reece Wabara and Jose Baxter clear his crossbar but he had to stretch to save a low shot from Cristian Montano and then from the diligent James Wesolowski.
Oldham continued to press Crewe back into their own half but we did have a couple of opportunities of our own with Harry Davis clipping the foot of a post after being picked out at a corner from Gregor Robertson and the recalled and ‘in the hole’ Aneke had a promising burst into the Oldham box only to be halted by the covering Jean Yves M’Voto.
Oldham thought they had taken the lead on 27 minutes when Derbyshire was on hand to turn in a close range rebound after a swerving shot from Croft was too hot to handle. The ball spun off the Crewe goalkeeper and Derbyshire tucked it away but had been ruled to have been in an offside position when the ball was struck. The Oldham boss Paul Dickov felt that Davis had being playing his striker on and protested for at least a couple of minutes. He had a point too.
Martin was called into action again to get his centre-half Ellis out of a spot of bother when his wayward pass travelled invitingly into the path of Montano, but the club’s number one managed to his shot push away from danger.
The Latics had the ball in the net for a second time when Baxter glanced a header from a Croft cross into the net, but again the assistant referee had instantly raised his flag believing the player had strayed offside. This decision was spot on, but Crewe were not taking the warning signs and a change of formation saw Pogba become the lead man and Aneke move out wide.
Crewe were somehow still level heading for the half-time break with Montano shooting just wide of the mark and Baxter wasting a good chance after Mellor had been caught out by Montano. Baxter should have scored but off balance blasted high and wide.
An out of sorts, Crewe were finding it hard to conjure any real chances, although AJ Leitch-Smith nearly read a back pass from Jonathan Grounds. He was held up by the covering and alert M’Voto. A promising one-two between Tootle and Leitch-Smith did create half an opening for Tootle but his firm shot was blocked from just inside the Oldham box.
On the verge of half-time, the visitors lost their centre-half M’Voto to injury and he was replaced by Tarkowski and Mellor went close to heading a cross from Robertson home in stoppage time. Any sort of connection and it would have been an undeserved lead for the Railwaymen.
Crewe did improve in the early second half with Leitch-Smith having an early shot blocked and Murphy trying to lead by example with some forceful runs.
Baxter had an early shot and although it was deflected behind for a corner, the former Everton trainee appealed for handball but the referee wasn’t interested.
Pogba tried to bundle his way through on a through ball from Murphy but Oldham were standing defensively strong with the experienced Cliff Bryne winning most things in the air.
It took his defensive partner Tarkowksi to break the deadlock on 61 minutes though and in all honestly they deserved their lead. He raced in behind at a corner to get himself free and head past a helpless Martin. It was a poor goal for the Alex to concede.
That goal resulted in a quick change with Tootle making way for Max Clayton. He nearly got away pretty quickly onto a ball from Murphy but it clipped his heal. Clayton also chased down a long ball from Bond but the Oldham keeper Dean Bouzanis kept himself busy by rushing out to clear on the edge of the box.
The second goal arrived after a poor clearance from Robertson. He didn’t find a red shirt or get any distance on his clearance and after Simpson had flicked on the initial cross, Dean Furman crossed for Derbyshire to slide home his third goal for the club.
Steve Davis, who had looked for a formula all evening, sent on Daniels for Aneke but Bouzanis was still not called into any real action. Murphy deservedly got the man-of-the-match award for his effort and never-say-die-attitude and the captain did hit the woodwork with a wonderfully struck free-kick in stoppage time, but Oldham deserved to win tonight.it was one of those night's for Crewe.