After two cup wins and well-publicised ticket price reductions, Oldham failed to capitalise on recent momentum with another goalless display as they drew 0-0 with AFC Wimbledon. Latics perhaps had the better chances to steal all three points – especially through Freddie Ladapo at the death – but had to settle for their fifth 0-0 stalemate and eleventh blank of an increasingly frustrating season.
Here, with the help of visiting Dons fan Joe, I look at the key talking points of Saturday’s game and look at what’s next for both sides.
Story of the Game:
After a cagey opening, Billy McKay and Lee Erwin both forced saves from visiting keeper James Shea, while Lyle Taylor hit the side netting from 18 yards for AFC Wimbledon and Jake Reeves was denied by quick reactions from Connor Ripley.
Chances were shared in the second half, with Peter Clarke and Ripley making important blocks to preserve their clean sheet. Meanwhile, winger Ryan McLoughlin caused problems all game with testing crosses, one of which found Freddie Ladapo with a minute remaining. The Crystal Palace loanee crashed a header against the bar and Clarke couldn’t push the ball over the line.
Joe says: “I don’t think either side could argue with the draw. Wimbledon would probably be the happier with just one point, away from home, given the relative league position. If James Shea had come up short on one of his 4 or 5 excellent saves Wimbledon would have been looking at a 1-0 defeat and couldn’t have complained. That said, the point blank save by Ripley when Jake Reeves was clean through saved the day for Oldham, so a point definitely was fair.”
How did the teams perform?
Oldham manager Stephen Robinson claimed AFC Wimbledon will be happier with their point, but his own side’s failure to score in yet another home game is an increasingly worrying problem that needs to be fixed quickly. Latics were slightly improved from recent league performances, but still lacked a clinical head when it mattered. Oldham are now the lowest scorers in the EFL, and have failed to score in 11 of 17 league games this season. As long as Robinson’s conservative, goal-shy tactics continue, no amount of price reductions will see fans coming back to Boundary Park every week.
The partnership of Cameron Dummigan and Ryan McLoughlin on the right has seen more chances created in recent weeks, and this was where Latics were most threatening on the day. However, a mixture of poor finishing and good saves from Wimbledon keeper Shea meant Latics remained in the League One relegation zone.
Wimbledon, on the other hand, were good value for their point. Unbeaten away from home since the openin day of the season, they looked organised and had chances of their own to win the game. Joe says: “Wimbledon won’t regard that as one of the better performances this season. Against Bolton and Bradford we played better and lost. What is pleasing is that yet again we were hard to beat and haven’t proved a soft-touch against anyone, apart from Opening Day jitters against Walsall.
“Oldham seemed to have sussed that Wimbledon had a right-winger playing at left-back and caused problems in that area early on. Often The Latics looked like a collection of players who either haven’t gelled yet or were having an off-day. I saw lots of misplaced passes, balls to the wing going out of play etc.”
Who stood out?
McLoughlin and Dummigan’s partnership was a bright spark in another average performance, while Ryan Flynn was more involved than recent anonymous performances in the league. Ollie Banks appears to have taken his chance in the team after a spell on the bench, with a more effective display than his early season form. Similarly, Charles Dunne retained his spot from last week’s cup games and put in a solid display.
While there were no awful performances, Steven Robinson’s side were too cautious yet again against a team that were there for the taking. Robinson could also take blame for altering the balance of his side with questionable substitutions as he replaced both of his strikers as Oldham searched for a goal.
For the visitors, Lyle Taylor was impressive as he continued his recent good form, and could have scored as his drive hit the side netting. Joe says: “You can’t look much further than the two goalkeepers, which explains the draw really. James Shea definitely earned his keep for Wimbledon. I was sure it was 0-1 and game over when Reeves was one on one with Ripley so I am sure the ‘Goalkeepers Union’ will be very happy”
Oldham face two tricky trips to league leaders Scunthorpe – who will be looking to avenge their surprise 2-0 defeat at Boundary Park only last month – and to surprise package Port Vale. Stephen Robinson will need to finally address his goal-scoring problem and motivate his troops quickly before a crucial December which could see Latics rejoin the mid-table pack, or fall adrift in the relegation zone.
For AFC Wimbledon, an FA Cup replay at home to Bury is followed by the same fixture in the league four days later. Joe says: “The Footballs Gods clearly have an odd sense of humour with consecutive home games against Bury. Following that is a trip to our close friends and neighbours Millwall who always lay out a warm welcome. Hopefully they’ll have more than one turnstile open, last time I spent most of the first half queuing.
Beyond that it’s hopefully remaining hard to beat and not being sucked into the lower reaches of the table.”
Thanks to Joe for providing his thoughts, and good luck to AFC Wimbledon for the rest of the season.