Town 1 Oldham Athletic 1
Town:Jayson Leutwiler, Matt Tootle, Mat Sadler, Ryan Woods (c), Jermaine Grandison, Mark Ellis, Abu Ogogo (Shaun Whalley, 69), Tyrone Barnett (Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro, 57) James Collins, Liam McAlinden (Jordan Clark, 56), Martin Woods
Subs not used: Mark Halstead (GK), Sam Patterson, Liam Lawrence, James Wesolowski
Oldham Athletic: Joel Coleman, Connor Brown, Timothee Dieng, James Wilson, Liam Kelly (c), Lee Croft (George Green, 73) Mike Jones (Rhys Turner, 90), Daniel Philliskirk, Jonathan Forte, Jonathan Burn, David Dunn (Carl Winchester, 73)
Subs not used: Rhys Murphy, Dominic Poleon, David Cornell, George Edmundson
Assistants:R. Wootton & P. Hodskinson
Fourth Official:D. Street
Attendance:3,963 (364 from Shrewsbury)
Martin Wild reports from SportsDirect.com Park
James Collins rescued a point for Shrewsbury Town from their visit to Oldham this afternoon. In Micky Mellon’s 50th League game in charge at the club, Collins stayed calm to finish well with 20 minutes left after Town had trailed to Liam Kelly’s penalty early in the second half for the home side.
Mellon made just one change to the side which went down at home to Chesterfield on Tuesday evening. With skipper Liam Lawrence benched, Liam McAlinden came in to the starting line-up with the Captain’s armband worn for the first time by Ryan Woods.
A massive plus for Mellon was being able to call upon the services of James Wesolowski amongst his subs, and the returning midfielder was given a good reception on his return to a former stomping ground. Oldham were forced into a late change when Joe Mills was injured in the warm-up so Timothee Dieng was called up in his place having initially been named amongst the substitutes.
Town got the game started attacking the Rochdale Road end of the ground which would normally occupy the travelling support. But the visiting fans this season are being housed in the Chadderton End, and the 300 or so travelling Salopians in that stand were right behind their side from the outset.
Mellon’s men had a good chance to shock the hosts when Jermaine Grandison rose in the area to meet Martin Wood’s first minute corner, but he would have been disappointed to head wide from a great position largely unchallenged. And a minute after that Mark Ellis met the ball from another Woods corner but headed well over. The delivery of both flag kicks by Woods though wouldn’t have gone unnoticed by the Oldham coaching staff.
Abu Ogogo didn’t go unnoticed by the ref either when he made a rash challenge on Latics’ skipper Kelly, and the man in black had a straight forward decision to make and that was Ogogo having to tread carefully for another 84 minutes.
Bang on quarter of an hour the hosts nearly scored with a worldy. Kelly scooped the ball on to Jonathan Forte who watched the ball drop over his shoulder before unleashing a venomous left foot volley that flew over Jayson Leutwiler, but rattled the face of the crossbar.
At the other end, Collins swept in a volley from Mat Sadler’s cross but it carried neither the power nor the direction to trouble Joel Coleman in the Oldham goal. It was a decent game swinging from end to end with both teams trying to get the ball down and play a bit, although neither goalkeeper had been worked too hard.
Forde was taking up some smashing positions for the hosts but his timing was all too often out, and the linesman’s flag came up on more than one occasion. But five minutes before the break, and after a pretty timid 15 minutes of stalemate, Forde did get his run right and it took a terrific tackle from Grandison to quickly block his route to goal.
Salop’s passing was again too many times below the required standard - although there was nothing in the game and from a Shrewsbury perspective, it was a vast improvement on the midweek performance.
Coleman made a dog’s dinner of Martin Woods’ weak free-kick in the last minute of the first-half, but the keeper managed to get to his feet to boot the ball clear before any Town player could profit.
Half-Time: Oldham Athletic 0 Town 0
Both sides returned to the field unchanged, with the sunshine – so seldom seen on a ground known as Ice Station Zebra during the winter months – still casting long shadows across the turf.
Oldham tested Leutwiler early on with the Swiss forced into a save on his near post, after David Dunn had played a neat pass across to Mike Jones who took it on first time. The resultant corner though was far too deep and the score remained goalless.
It wouldn’t remain that way for very long, though. Dunn was felled in the box by Ogogo and despite Shrews’ protestations, Kelly rolled in the pen once Leutwiler had committed himself to the opposite corner. Dunn had used all his experience to get the award.
He wasn’t heading into any kind of space and really, Ogogo ought not to have dived in. Once he had done, he gave the official a decision to make and the challenge was punished in the worst possible way. Mellon shuffled his deck quickly, making a double change before the hour. McAlinden’s afternoon was over and so was Tyrone Barnett’s. Jordan Clark and JLAA were the men tasked to bring some spark and breathe some life into Salop’s performance.
If only games were decided on corners. Town were comfortably ahead in regards to that particular stat with Ellis next to meet Clark’s flag kick, only to head straight at Coleman.
Less than a minute after Shaun Whalley was introduced for the disappointing Ogogo, Town levelled.
Collins capitalised on a defensive slip from Jonathan Burn and was clear. He strode forward, confidently skipped past the woefully exposed Coleman and rolled the ball into the empty net with his left foot. It was his third goal of the season already and he milked the adulation of the away fans who had been given a bird’s-eye-view of the equaliser.
Now we had a right game on our hands and all of a sudden it was the home fans getting twitchy. The Latics had been pegged back and now it was their passing which didn’t quite have the slickness we’d seen when they were ahead and playing with confidence.
And they were nearly stunned when Salop could have led with back-to-back chances with 12 on the watch. Ellis saw his header hooked off the line and as Oldham tried to clear Whalley struck a superb volley that nearly took ball and keeper into the net.
Coleman blocked although he looked like he’d just been slugged by a heavyweight World Champion, and without any question, Mellon’s changes had had the desired effect. Athletic were on the ropes and Town were in for the kill. Whalley was catching the eye on his debut and one jinking run down the right again caused panic in the Oldham defence before they hoofed the danger clear.
Collins bent one a couple of yards wide and there was by now only one team in the game, and one that looked capable of settling the contest, and that was the team in sky blue and white striped jerseys. It might have taken them a while to find their rhythm, but now they had, it was nice to watch.
As hard as they tried, Town just couldn’t grab the winner despite their territorial advantage in the last 20 minutes or so. Another corner – to Shrews, obviously – in stoppage time was well defended by the home side and the game ended all-square.
Full-Time: Oldham Athletic 1 Town 1