Two points dropped: Oldham 1-1 Imps

If you have a numerical advantage then you want to press that home early in the second half. What we needed was to come out of the blocks fighting, punching wildly and swarming all over the home side. We saw Oldham collapse in the FA Cup two years ago and if we’d been first to score in the second half I firmly believe we would have gone on to win the game handsomely. I had every confidence we’d do just that and even hearing ‘Saturn 5’ at half time didn’t upset me too much.


Saturn Five is my alarm tone and when I heard the first few bars I thought in my head it was morning and I had to get up. Disorientating to say the least.


Instead, we got hit with a super effort and apparently had the wind taken out of our sails. We needed to do anything but concede and yet once again, the clean sheet eluded us. We’ve now kept just two clean sheets in 17 matches, but yeah, the problem must be Akinde.

In fact, we’ve kept just five clean sheets all season, one of those coming in the EFL Cup, so if we’re truly looking for a scapegoat perhaps we have to look at the defence. That said, we only kept six clean sheets in the first 25 games of last season, but good sides don’t leak goals as we do. MK Dons for instance, have kept 11. John Akinde still the problem here?

It was the first punch of a frenetic and entertaining second half, levelled quickly by Michael O’Connor with another of his trademark strikes. He’s been a top player for us since joining and he highlighted one of the positives in our play; we rarely draw a blank. In fact, we’ve only failed to score in a game on three occasions this season, the same as MK Dons. 

From there we should have gone on to win the game, but we were always susceptible to an attack as well. We had chances, I admit Akinde missed a couple he should have scored and Bruno had a great effort that on another day, he too would have bagged. We didn’t lay siege as such, but as in the Mansfield game I thought we were comfortably better in the second period. We should be though, they only had ten men.

Our main route to goal in the last two seasons, set pieces, have been woeful recently. Our corners offer little threat, our free kicks are wasted far too often and for some reason we’ve lost that little bit of magic from the dead ball situations. Maybe the Port Vale game was a millstone around our neck rather than a bonus because it’s certainly ensured teams defend far better from our set pieces. Mind you, with delivery like we had this evening, there’s not a lot to defend. Short corners; just no. Why do it? We’ve got big lads, why not get it into the box? We score from corners when they’re right and when they’re cleared, we usually pick up the pieces outside the area. Tonight, as on Saturday, we tried short corners and ended up completely wasting the opportunity.

I understand there’s method behind what we do and I understand as a fan, I don’t see the work on the training ground, but against Port Vale both Harry Toffolo and Bruno Andrade got assists from corners. Why is Michael O’Connor on them now?

Courtesy Graham Burrell

it always felt like we might get a goal, when we did get something away their keeper made a save, but then again on the break they looked dangerous. I thought Surridge coming on was a brave move by them, but he turned out to be one of their best players. For every half chance we missed, they conjured up a quarter chance and drew a round of ‘oohs’ from the home support, which by the way was significantly lower than a ‘big’ club like them should be getting. Their performance and desire certainly deserves more fans watching, especially in a ground like Boundary Park.

As injury time approach I expected us to really go for it, but we didn’t. The subs didn’t make a big impact, having seen Kellan Gordon bag twice form the bench recently I was surprised to see Rhead come on for Harry Anderson. Given that we desperately needed to stretch ten men in the second half I was very surprised to see Matt Green with less than ten minutes of normal time left in the match. I’m not the manager, he sees the players every day and has a method, but I know I’d liked to have seen Gordon for Harry in a straight swap and perhaps McCartan off for Matt Green with at least 25 minutes left to go. We’re all armchair pundits though, are we not?

Still, I didn’t expect them to look most likely to get the goal in stoppage time, but they did. Credit to them, they played very well, but I stand by my assertion that if you’re top and playing a team in 13th place with ten men, you should be winning the game. Sadly, and you know I struggle saying something like this, that result is simply not good enough, whatever Oldham used to be. 

Where do we go from here? What I’d like to think is after the constructive criticism, which is entirely justified, and once the anti-Akinde lot have put their keyboards to sleep as well, we can all pull together and turn this blip around. By the way, one defeat in eleven isn’t a bad blip to be having, nor is still being second in the league when you’ve only won once in six league matches. However, if we’re to void this turning into 2006/07 all over again then we have to stick together as a fan base, keep supporting the lads and remain behind our own players.

We’re still in a promotion challenge, we’re still in a great position and whether others are catching up or not will be irrelevant if we can reach the same heights as the start of the season. I wonder if we’ve become predictable again and maybe Danny needs to look at some of the formations from earlier in the season and try dusting them off for the element of surprise. 

I do feel we need some fresh faces against Carlisle. I’ve always said the FA Cup is a priority and we shouldn’t experiment but if we would have dropped players for the league, then the same should happen in the cup. There’s one or two changes I’d make but leaving out Akinde isn’t one of them. I’d like to see a much flatter 4-4-2, akin to last season, when Rhead and Green fed excellently off each other. I’ll be doing a piece on the side I’d like to see before the weekend but in the meantime let us not start falling out, blasting players with harsh words or tearing into the team and tactics when we’re at the highest point we’ve been at in over a decade, we’ve sustained a place in the top three for perhaps the longest time since the early 1980s and we’re only a month away from being able to shake things up with a few new faces.

This is still a good season, even if we’re going to be waiting for that elusive win at Boundary Park.

10 Comments

  1. Pretty much as I saw it.

    I really, really cannot understand the level of criticism of Akinde who was one of our best out there tonight, the idiot in the gents after the game calling him a ‘useless c**t’ got a more polite mouthful back from me, if people can’t see how individuals perform why do they waste their time and money going to matches? T**t.

    At the moment however we are less than the sum of our parts, a few players flattering to deceive. Tom Pett was ok tonight,a few others less so. It does need freshening up, I’d like to see Green and (if possible) Gordon start on Saturday. And Akinde too, naturally.

  2. Lucky to get a point … Against ten men you were useless. Oldham had enough chances to win the game and were the better team.. What I saw was a team of cheats, bruisers and talentless individuals playing long ball and going for the best.

  3. Fair assessment. Once again our biggest threat was Akinde who was a real handful and we were far less threatening once he had gone off especially as Plan B just isn’t very pretty. Don’t see why, especially playing against 10 men you essentially take your most influential and creative players (Pett/Frecklington/MaCartan/Andrade) out of the game by resorting to what simply became ‘hoofball’.

  4. Having made the horrible journey with a couple of mates across the Penines, I’m sorry to say the best thing about the evening was the balti pie ?.
    Right from the start the Imps for some reason had no urgency or spark this continued throughout the match. There was no player who took the game by the scruff of the neck.
    Oldham are no slouch especially going forward. But after the injury and the sending off they were there for the taking.
    But we never looked as if we had the extra man.
    Oldham weren’t great at the back, and I thought they were ripe for Green & Akinde (both willing runners) but for some reason this option isn’t available or won’t work.
    Every team has a poor patch, But we are conceding and also not scoring from set pieces or open play. I just hope we get out of the slump sooner rather than later as it is us that look to be there for the taking.
    Christmas fixtures are coming up and we need to get back to winning way by then, because there are a lot of sides below us just hitting a purple patch and closing the gap between us & MKD.
    Come on City UTI
    PS the atmosphere at Boundary Park was non existent and it was good City Supporters were there otherwise you would have heard a pin drop

    • I thought Akinde played well. We have to remember what we are asking him to do, he is a bit isolated.
      I too would love to see green with him.
      My one criticism of him is he never jumps when heading.
      It be nice if he was more clinical but let’s nit forget that thread and green were not clinical enough last season.

  5. Far from being in that anti-Akinde camp but i think that you should expect more from your striker. Especially when he is your record signing too. One goal in last 15 games is really,really poor and that is a fact… I am positive that he’ll get better eventually but for now just not good enough…

  6. As long as I am positive about Akinde getting better and start scoring I have no doubt that at the moment he is just not good enough. When your record signing striker score 1 goal in 15 games that is just poor…

  7. In the early part of the season we came out on the right side of some close results. Its beginning to even itself out now. We are doing just fine. No one including Mk Dons are going to win this League by 10 points. We are well positioned to add to the squad in January. Should we be promoted we will have to improve the quality and although January is not a time when significant number of players are available, Im sure Danny will be looking to add two or three and this will give us a kick start to the last half of the season where other teams may not be able to strengthen. We were within a minute of winning that Mansfield game and therefore 4 from 6 for those two games would have been well received. As supporters and commentators we need to stop expecting to win every football match. We are averaging 2 points a game and that will get us there. Keep the faith!

  8. I watched it on ifollow. Firstly whether Josh got up straight away or not was irrelevant, as with the Ellis Chapman card a few weeks ago it was straight out his back pocket without any discussion or second thought, probably to calm a potentially lary reaction from any other player. As for John Akinde, I think he is vastly underated, the amount of lost causes he recovers, the work he does on his own week in week out is tremendous, as you’ve stated McArten plays too far away from him, too far back. I also don’t understand why supporters are moaning about us being ‘only’ 2nd in the league, obviously they weren’t there when we were a division lower and struggling.

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