Oldham Athletic – 0
Nottingham Forest – 0
I should be pretty happy with a draw, indeed, before the game I would probably have taken it. Then I saw the team lineup. James Perch at leftback with Lockwood on the bench, Cohen on the left wing, Grant Holt on the right wing, Agogo a lone striker. Both our wingers on the bench. There is a line-up that isn’t playing for a win, I thought.
As for the game, as 0-0 games often are, this one wasn’t the most interesting in the world. Oldham could’ve had the lead very early – Kilkenny crossing to Chris Taylor, whose effort from six yards out struct the woodwork. The early stages to the game were largely disjointed, predictably with the home side having more possession and putting more pressure on.
Predictably Oldham put pressure on Cohen/Perch down the left hand side of the pitch – indeed, this has been a hallmark of the season for me – as even when we’re in a flat 4-4-2 with Commons in the side, he drifts so often he leaves the left back – even when it is a left back we’re playing – exposed. Fortunately a slice of luck and the endeavour of the two out-of-position players won through for us.
The only real chance of note we had was when Cohen was able to flick on the ball – sadly it was too far from Breckin at the back post. Smith’s only real job in the first half was making a fairly routine save from a long range Taylor effort. As the half wore on Forest did look more comfortable, without really ever looking particularly threatening.
Into the second half, and it started much as the first had ended. Agogo burst forward, but given the formation he predictably had no support – so was left with a shot from a wide angle the only option, which was nowhere near to troubling the goalkeeper. Again, McGugan was able to play Grant Holt through who similarly had no targets in red shirts.
After an hour Cohen was withdrawn for Commons, getting involved in one of those frustratingly tip-tappy freekick arrangements – which McGugan eventually blasted into an onrushing Oldham player. Oldham’s next chance came next, the ball dropping over Breckin to Lee Hughes whose goalbound shot was well saved by Paul Smith.
The only other real chance of note was a long ranger from Commons, which – similar to the recent home game – had ‘keeper Mark Crossley backpedalling only to just drop over the bar and onto the roof of the net – so that’s pretty unlucky. So the positives, a clean sheet, good to see Sammy Clingan back in action, but too negative a formation, Smoulders!
We’ve not scored a goal against Oldham since January 2006 – leaving five games in which we’ve lost three and now more recently drawn two, I suppose if you were to stick a trend line through that lot, then it would show we are at least heading in the right direction! Particularly given that we started the year with a 5-0 tonking at their hands!
So it’s not a bad result, all things considered – but it does make me hungry for all three points against Gillingham before we can wave goodbye to 2007 completely. We’re down to second now after Swansea demolished Cheltenham, and they still have a game in hand over us! Leeds United are breathing down our necks still after they got yet another late goal – this time only an equaliser fortunately – against Hartlepool.
Still, this time last year we were around 7 points clear at the top of the league, weren’t we? So it just goes to show that absolutely anything can happen from here on in! On reflection restricting Oldham to relatively few chances is a positive thing, but of course we need to be creating more ourselves too – it’s good news that Wilson is fit again, also – how we could also do with Tyson back though. Still, at least Derby lost!