Crewe Alexandra produced a really spirited and gutsy display to record their second win in a week and only our second at Gresty Road this season.
Adam King scored the only goal in the 21st minute, timing his run to perfection to meet a knock down from Ben Nugent at a free-kick. It was the Scotsman 5th goal of the season and condemned David Dunn’s Oldham side to their first away defeat of the season.
With Ben Garratt protected superbly well by his back four and everyone putting a shift in, it was a really resilient performance. Crewe had chances to make it more comfortable with James Jones striking one just over the top of the crossbar and substitute Ryan Wintle losing his balance at the far post after a cross from Ryan Colcough had fallen to him at the far post.
Oldham didn’t force Garratt into too many saves over the 90 minutes and the Railwaymen thoroughly deserved the 1-0 win. The victory moves the Alex off the bottom of League One.
Recent loan signing Semi Ajayi made his debut for the club after signing on a month’s loan from Cardiff City. Ajayi’s arrival compensated for the loss of George Ray, who unfortunately broke his ankle late at Colchester United on Tuesday evening.
Tuesday night’s match winner Ryan Lowe was handed his first start after he came off the bench to create the equaliser for Marcus Haber and then lobbed the goalkeeper Jamie Jones for a dramatic winner in Essex.
Crewe lined up in a 4-4-2 formation with Haber partnering Lowe in the forward line. The early passages of play became a bit disjoined due to a succession of free-kicks and one given to Oldham Athletic resulted in the first half chance of the game. The Latics captain Liam Kelly swung over a tempting cross into a crowded penalty area and Danny Philliskirk steered his header just wide of Ben Garratt’s left hand post.
There were personal battles occurring all over the pitch and none more so that our centre-backs Nugent and Ajayi contesting up against Fuller and our former forward Michael Higdon. Both the Crewe centre-half were strong and the air and won the majority of their tussles.
Ryan Colclough operating on the left hand side needed fed Lowe through the middle but he just over hit his final pass. Crewe’s first shot on tackle arrived from midfielder Billy Bingham though after despite being grounded, he spun away from two defenders to drill a low shot that David Cornell had to save.
Oldham had their spells of possession too and Kelly fired a shot into the floor and thankfully it bounced a yard wide of Garratt’s post, but in truth the Crewe goalkeeper had shuffled across and had it covered.
The winning goal arrived on 21 minutes and it was no surprise that it came via a free-kick because the first period had been littered by then. New loan signing Ajayi struck a beautifully weighted cross field pass aimed to his defensive partner Nugent and after he won his personal duel at the far post, Adam King timed his run to perfection to control his half volley and tuck it past Cornell. It was a wonderful finish from the on-loan Swansea City teenager and it marked his 5th goal of his loan.
After taking the lead in a tight half of few chances, Oldham enjoyed another spell of the ball but never really threatened Garratt’s goal too much, mainly because of the organisation in our back four. Nugent did superbly to deny Jay Fulton a clean touch inside our six yard box.
A lovely passing move from the Railwaymen saw Bingham and King combine to release Colclough in space and he had the vision to roll the ball out to Lowe on the left hand side of the Oldham penalty area. Lowe used Colclough’s run as a decoy and curled a great effort just wide of the target.
Oldham made a change at the interval with the more mobile Jake Cassidy replacing Fuller.
The hard working Haber won an early header at the far post but he couldn’t quite direct his header towards a team-mate.
Cassidy’s first involvement saw him produce a really tempting cross across our six yard box but Ajayi on his debut made an excellent sliding interception to turn it behind for a corner.
Connor Brown was the first Oldham player to be booked for a foul on Colclough and the opposite full-back Joe Mills was also cautioned for pulling the Alex forward back on the edge of the box. Brown was soon replaced by Oldham’s new loan signing Richie Wellens as Dunn went to three at the back with Philliskirk asked to keep an eye on Colclough.
More good work from Haber down the right hand side saw him produce an accurate cross but the Ryan’s got in each other’s way at the crucial moment.
James Jones went awfully close to making it 2-0 after his thunderous shot just cleared Cornell’s top corner. The Alex midfielder, who won the difficult vote for the Man-of-the-Match award, struck it superbly and the majority of the Stadium thought it was in when I left his boot. He also struck another good effort straight at the Oldham goalkeeper after Billy Bingham had found him on the edge of the box.
Lowe left the field to a standing ovation after running himself to an almost standstill. The 37-year-old was prepared to chase defenders and shut down back passes all afternoon. He was well supported by the effective Haber and Colclough.
Oldham also made a change with Dominic Poleon replacing Fulton. The match winner King also replaced by Ryan Wintle.
After Mills was booked for pulling Colclough back, a well worked training ground free-kick nearly came off but the little passes into the box was just a little heavy.
Crewe were standing up to any Oldham pressure. They hit too many crosses into Garratt’s gloves and Philliskirk wasted their best chance, side footing a volley wide after being picked out by Cassidy. He should have at least tested Garratt.
Colclough produced a stunning solo run that saw him drift away from defenders and make the Oldham box. He poked the ball across the back post but sub Wintle was leaning back too much and send his shot over the bar.
Colclough had run himself into the ground and was replaced by debutant Perry Ng down the left hand side. His first contribution saw him win a towering header.
Crewe were never really threatened, although there was a late melee and a late corner which we had to defend, but we were virtually flawless in that all afternoon and any danger was cleared.