Kuqi earns crucial three points for Oldham

A solitary goal to nil victory against opposition who have managed only a single victory in 19 attempts does not sound altogether convincing, especially with the goal coming from the penalty spot, does it?

However, Oldham were well worth their victory against Tranmere on Saturday. Having had the lion’s share of the chances during the course of the match, the single goal was a little disappointing.

In truth, Tranmere offered very little beyond their concrete blocks of four in midfield and defence with their only challenge of “come and break us down”. It makes them difficult to play against, but they flatly refuse to be drawn into a football match. It is their system – which works a lot more effectively at Prenton Park than on their travels – so respect must be shown to Les Parry’s team of battlers.

Meanwhile at Boundary Park, Oldham produced a marked improvement on last week’s 5-0 thrashing at MK Dons. Without being at their best, Paul Dickov’s fought for their victory and it is three points they desperately craved.

Dickov reinstated David Mellor and Carl Winchester to the side, and with James Tarkowski forcing Zander Diamond to spectate from the substitute’s bench, youth team manager Tony Philliskirk has seemingly worked wonders once again. This current crop of teenagers can look forward to long careers well above the level of League One.

David Mellor, who was linked with a move to Fulham earlier this season, should enjoy a spell at left-back following the torn hamstring suffered by Paul Black. Carl Winchester will inevitably fall back to the bench with the imminent return of Captain Dean Furman (which is quite regrettable). And then there is James Tarkowski. At just 19, he shows calm and composure well beyond his teenage years and with a genuine ability to defend he looks an excellent prospect.

However, at the other end of the pitch, the old goat Shefki Kuqi scored his 14th goal of the season. The veteran Finn had failed to find the next in his last thirteen appearances so it will be a relief to both he and Dickov that he has recaptured some form, even if it did come from 12 yards. As the Latics’s main source of goals, Dickov needs more him to hit a streak of form to help the side.

Oldham’s ability to respond following defeat with a positive result remains endearing, but it is the concept of consistency that they need to grasp. With home games fast approaching, climb the league and build confidence, but in order to do so they must wield a cutting edge over the opponents.

Colchester and Yeovil are poor traveling sides, while struggling Scunthorpe fail to turn draws into victories, so it is an excellent chance for Latics to generate some much-needed momentum. A trip to Bramall Lane sandwiches the flurry of home matches, but with a point taken at Charlton and a late winner suffered at Huddersfield, Dickov can head to South Yorkshire knowing with the correct application his boys can compete with the promotion-chasing pack and leave with at least a point.

Amid the doom and gloom that February has produced, Oldham can bring the curtain down on the month and head into March in confident spirits.

By Oldham blogger Craig Worswick