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Killer touch missing as fine effort unrewarded

Reporter: MATTHEW CHAMBERS
Date online: 15 January 2014

Walsall 1, Athhletic 0

“OLDHAM are one of the best teams we have played this season,” they said. Again.

This time it was Febian Brandy, joining Rotherham manager Steve Evans on the list of love-to-hate nemeses who love-to-love Latics.

“We couldn’t do any more,” Athletic pleaded, again. Lee Johnson was right, from a staff’s perspective. Preparations and plans were nigh-on perfect, as was the performance at the Banks’s Stadium.

But this was a tale of missed chances, again. This time the prime culprit was misfiring striker Adam Rooney, whose penalty in added time was saved by former Athletic loan goalkeeper Richard O’Donnell to deny the visitors a draw. The substitute had earlier fluffed another golden opportunity.

Bad luck was blamed, again. James Dayton hit a post with a 25-yard free-kick; Danny Philliskirk’s

follow-up flashed across the face of goal. James Tarkowski’s shot, blocked by a stray hand in the first half, didn’t produce a spot-kick.

The final outcome was no points, again. Walsall took all three, helping the Saddlers into a play-off position.

The differences between Walsall and Athletic are both small and huge. This entertaining contest – a superb advert for crisp, passing play – illustrated the peculiarity perfectly.

The Saddlers had four real scoring opportunities at best. Oldham were in control for most of the first half and large parts of the second.

Buoyed by a double substitution made after conceding, they could have had a hatful, but for the great form shown by O’Donnell.

The margins may be fine. But add up all of the rotten luck and – more pertinently – lax play in both penalty areas in 2013-14 and a trend is clear.

Athletic are good. They often pass well, move intelligently and close down keenly. But this team is simply not mean-spirited enough. This was the sixth time Dean Smith’s side has won by one goal this season. It was the 10th time Athletic has lost by a single goal in a dozen league defeats.

Within those statistics lies the reason why Johnson’s side are 10 places and 14 points below the

similarly-resourced Saddlers.

In a fair and just universe, a point would have been the outcome for the visitors. Athletic’s prospects seemed good when James Wesolowski was tripped in the area by Downing, after Harkins had neatly sent him in.

Rooney may feel he was unlucky to see a powerful spot-kick saved by O’Donnell, who flew to his right to push the ball away.

But the goalkeeper revealed that he had a good idea of what to expect: “We do our homework and have an idea of the way they are going to go,” said a smiling O’Donnell. “We picked that way and luckily it went that way.”

Some might call it luck. Others might describe it as the perfect execution of detailed preparation.

Hats off to Walsall, thinking caps on for Athletic.

Comments

My god what an infuriating team the Latics are.We have some very good parts. The manager is young and positive and gets us playing good football.Tarko and Kusunga look very good in defence,the midfield with Smith,Weso and now Harkins are busy with a bit of creativity,but the attack cannot smack a cow's backside with a banjo.Since November we have scored 6 goals in 9 league outings, with only one striker Clarke-Harris getting on the scoresheet - something has to change.

how is lee johnson the new mourinho time he went .people at the club think he very special. I am sorry but we are in results business and he has been poor none stop.

Gary Harkin gets drop when he was biggie him up.

Same old story for our tortured fans. Another game we should never have lost. The difference in cameo's between Harkins and Rooney was stark. Rooney, unfortunately and predictably, missed a sitter then gave the goalie a lovely heighted ball to make his glory save. If Rooney is a striker I'm Marco Van Basten!

Just throw this out there but I think maybe the real story is that Walsall have a goalkeeper who can save them points in a season and we don't.

Well actually I think we do but his name is Rachubka.

I think a number of the points we have lost this season can be laid at poor decision making by Oxley.

However he seems to be in every week even though I don't see him saving pens in the last minute or getting MOM's when we are digging out a one nil win or draw.

How many times do I have to say it?....Rooney a good player?....a good striker?, I have seen a lot better in the Sunday league and they do not get paid. Another pathetic lethargic performance how many times must we play this fop!.

Ibby behave yourself ! The only missing part of this team are strikers and we all know proven strikers cost money.Its very difficult to unearth a real gem that costs very little.Im certain if LJ can find the final piece if the jigsaw we will have the makings of a very good team. LJ in my opnion has done a good job so far with the resources at his disposal and i find it laughable that you can write him off so easily,weve played some great stuff this season just need that killer instinct front man

Sometimes find it hard to believe some of the rubbish spouted on here from supposedly Oldham people, who have had hard times for most of their lives.

Now as football fans & others, who spend their lives moaning about everything, for goodness sake if you don't like where you are or your football club... Syria needs you urgently.

How many of you give any thought to the stuff you put on here, how would you feel if ANYONE was allowed to slag you off at YOUR work ?

The players want to win matches.

Go on then Ibby, who would you bring in?

And here we go AGAIN - a report of how Latics had bad luck !

Why is hitting the post bad luck ? If another shot had been on target and saved by the goalie, that would not be put down to "bad luck" so why should a shot that is not on target be classed as such ?

And why should a penalty saved by the goalie be classed as bad luck ? No, the penalty was not taken good enough.

I assume that the next time the opposition hit the post or have a penalty saved, that will also be put down to bad luck ???

 

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