Latics scrape through following Trophy shoot-out

Reporter: Mark Rooney
Date published: 10 December 2023

Latics manager Micky Mellon was full of praise for his opponents Mickleover’s spirited performance after they had taken his side all the way to penalties following a 3-3 Boundary Park draw in the FA Trophy.

John McGrath’s Southern League Premier Division Central side completely matched the hosts on the day in all areas.

Mellon said: "While relieved to be through to the next round, I think a lot of credit must go to Mickleover.

"We were disappointed with the way we played to be honest and that is no reflection of the way Mickleover played.

"We understand that there is a lot of work to be done.

“The positives are that we go through but, bigger picture, we have a lot to do here and we go again with that on Monday.

"I didn’t think that we did anything really towards what we want to be.

"We didn’t perform we have a lot to be done here.

"Looking at us I know what a big job we have got on."

Mellon made two changes from 4-1 defeat to Ebbsfleet with Josh Lundstram and Kieran Freeman replaced by Hallam Hope and captain Liam Hogan.

The scene was set for a tight game early on as Mickleover snapped at the Oldham heels with a couple of early chances through strong pressing.

Against the run of play Mike Fondop put Latics a goal up on 10 minutes when he headed Mark Kitching’s cross in at the far post.

But Mickleover fought back bravely and, after forcing Matt Hudson to make more impressive saves, Oliver Greaves levelled the scores at 1-1 just before half-time.

Five minutes into the second half, Latics took the lead again, with Kurt Willougby, who had come on at half time for Fondop, firing past keeper Bosworth into the bottom corner.

Again, Mickleover continued to fight back and were rewarded with levelling the game once again when striker Stuart Beavon headed the first of his two goals into the far corner to make it 2-2.

But Latics retook the lead a minute later when a poor back pass to Bosworth allowed striker Hope to restore the lead for the home side at 3-2.

Still Mickleover refused to let their heads go down as they chased an equaliser for the third time.

And they, deservedly, were rewarded when Beavon grabbed his second goal on 84 minutes by again beating Hudson with a header by the far post to make it 3-3.

This scoreline was a fair reflection of play in an entertaining game in front of 1,662 supporters and, even as the game closed at 3-3, at the end either side could have snatched a winner.

In the shootout, Willougby, Norwood, Hogan and Kitching scored all four penalties for Latics.

Greaves and McMahon scored Mickleover’s first two penalties, but with Atkinson and Dales both having their spot kicks saved by Hudson, it was Latics who go through to the FA Trophy fourth round draw tomorrow (Monday).

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