PORT VALE 0, OLDHAM ATHLETIC 1
Free kick specialist Mike Jones halted Oldham Athletic’s losing run and put their Sky Bet League One promotion bid back on track at Port Vale.
After three straight defeats and the loss of manager Lee Johnson, this was a much-needed lift for Latics who secured their fifth away league win thanks to a spectacular free kick from Jones.
Jones’ strike was worthy of winning any game and was not the only contribution from influential midfield man who also made a memorable goalline clearance in the second half to preserve the lead.
It was a much-improved display from Latics who defended well, albeit with a little luck, to keep a clean sheet while also carving out a number of scoring chances.
Top scorer Jonathan Forte returned after injury as did Carl Winchester while there was a first start of the season for Adam Lockwood.
Genseric Kusunga, Timothee Dieng and Rhys Murphy lost their places after the 4-0 home drubbing by Preston North End on Saturday.
Oldham ought to have taken the lead in what was an unlucky 13th minute after a horrible miss from Forte who blazed over from three yards after latching on to a perfect right-wing cross by Dominic Poloen. It looked a nailed-on goal.
Latics’ back line defended resolutely restricting the Valiants to a couple of efforts by Tom Pope, the best of which was a free header which he planted wide.
Oldham took the lead three minutes before the break from a spectacular free kick by Jones from 30 yards which was curled over the defensive wall and arrowed into the top corner of the net, his sixth goal of the season.
And they may have doubled their lead early in the second half when left back Connor Brown’s shot was well beaten to safety by keeper Chris Neal.
Vale had their best spell of the game by far on the hour when Oldham keeper Jake Kean pulled off an unbelievable reflex save to keep out Ben Williamson’s header.
And from the resulting corner, Ryan Inniss’s header beat Kean but was cleared off the line spectacularly by Jones.
Danny Philliskirk had a great chance to seal victory late on, but his angled shot was well turned behind by Neal as did substitute Conor Wilkinson in stoppage time who was pressurised into shooting wide when clean through on goal.