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Reasons to be cheer-ful

Reporter: MATTHEW CHAMBERS
Date online: 31 March 2014

Athletic 0, Brentford 0

HE CAME back, he saw a new-look Boundary Park, he didn’t quite conquer. But James Tarkowski did at least have the consolation of flattening his mate.

There was a smile on both their faces as Tarkowski hauled up his friend James Wesolowski to try to avoid a booking from referee Scott Duncan.

The trick worked too - but his West London team-mates didn’t have everything their own way in an oddly invigorating afternoon.

While a point meant a move closer to the 50-point mark that will likely ensure safety, the end result could and should have been even better.

Danny Philliskirk claimed a push in his back when he rose to meet a Gary Harkins cross - but he probably should still have hit the target from barely six yards.

And before Wesolowski had his own presentable shout for a spot-kick, James Dayton embarrassingly fluffed an attempted lob when set clean through in the second half.

At the other end, the best the promotion-chasing Bees could muster against a generally rock-solid and organised defence was a volley from Stuart Dallas which brought a sharp save from under-employed Athletic goalkeeper Paul Rachubka.

Athletic’s football was often good. The counter-attacking was potent, particularly in an end-to-end first half, and the threat levels of Lee Johnson’s side exceeded those of the considerably well-heeled line-up put out by former City worker Mark Warburton – whose gentleman’s agreement to allow Tarkowski back to Boundary Park on loan disappeared as quickly as a stock trade.

“He was keen to play,” Warburton said of Tarkowski afterwards. ”His family came to watch and he had a fantastic time at Oldham. He was very composed and showed a good range of passing. He will be a very good player for us.”

Just as the ground has suddenly changed, so too has the atmosphere at Boundary Park. Aided by a constant drumbeat, a wall of noise existed where once it was mainly silence punctuated by groans.

Tarkowski probably wondered where he was. Still, Athletic have moved on since he departed for the Big Smoke two months ago – on the field as well as off.

Up against one of the most potent attacks in League One, the now-settled back four rose to the

challenge.

Particularly excellent on the day was James Wilson, who met plenty in the air while reading the game very well to quell almost all danger.

The former Bristol City man also nearly netted with a strong far-post header which forced a stooping save from Brentford ‘keeper David Button.

Wilson’s is certainly one contract Johnson will want to extend come the summer.

Noise levels rose in the second half, with Athletic’s supporters sensing that the drum-aided racket was aiding their team.

After Wilson’s header was pushed out after 48 minutes, Brentford started to pin back the home side.

On came Dayton to try to reverse that trend by getting the Bees defenders racing back towards their own goal.

By now the contest was getting tasty, with challenges flying in all over the pitch. Harkins hammered a low shot which was saved low down by Button and then set in Dayton with a scything through-ball from his own half. The run was timed perfectly but Athletic’s winger tried to lob the ball over the goalkeeper and made little contact, making the shot a simple catch.

Johnson clearly scented blood, with a switch to 4-4-2 seeing the increasingly-influential Harkins pushed into his natural number 10 role.

As the board was held up to showcase an extra five minutes of playing time, few Athletic fans vocalised their dismay. The collective view was that it gave Athletic a better chance to go out and win the game - which says plenty about how this newly-solid, sharp counter-attacking side fared against a team gunning for promotion.

Tarkowski may end up going up. For Athletic, now unbeaten in four, things are at least looking up.

Comments

should have won when Dayton had that chance.

good result ,better performance ,should have had 2 pens ,but its no wonder we keep playing for draws the nobodys up front totaly useless ,still cant score more than 1 if that, worst nobodys we have ever had ,all the bottom 4 can score bar us if we scored more at home people would come to watch but who wants to watch our nobodys only the season tic holders who have too watch the backs to the wall football, still need 2 wins need Billy Graham up front ,we live in hope as usual

to all fans who dont turn up anymore. you are currently missing the best atmosphere we have generated for years.
chaddy end v coventry. dont miss out.

Good point, great atmosphere and impressive size to the stand. Finishing, woeful and abject. C'mon Latics!

Got to say the atmosphere was superb and it certainly lifted the players. It's just a pity that where I sit I have to listen to 3 supposed fans finding fault with every player, week in week out. I am not the only one who has noticed their comments. Nothing seems to satisfy them, even if we were 6 up they would find something to moan about. They must be hen pecked at home and therefore take out their stress when they arrive at the ground.
Anyway,we will stay up that's for sure in my opinion.

The chaddy end is dire all the noise is in the rocky road end that's where oldham fans should be. The chaddy end has had it's day im afraid

A really good effort both on the pitch and in the stands marred only by the usual lack of courage by our forwards. You dont have to be technically gifted to be a successful striker, you just have to love scoring more than you fear missing.

Moaning is a new pastime in Oldham, no matter what the subject it has become a habit to complain about everything an anything in the town.
You honestly don't know how lucky you are, there are dozens of far worse towns and Cities in the Uk... and certainly many, many more football clubs in a dreadful sate compared with us.
This is football today, being destroyed by the very money from the Media which somehow appears to be going only to the Premier League these days, the grass roots are dying.

And Latics Observer you must be crown prince of snipers, as your always sniping at some ONE! or some THING!, and if it is not what you want to HEAR! then of course it has to be WRONG!, how about for once heed your own words and give it a rest!.

 

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