OLDHAM ATHLETIC 3, ROCHDALE 0
Oldham Athletic must wish they played Rochdale every week following their derby victory at SportsDirect.com Park.
They followed up November’s 3-0 win at Spotland with victory by the same margin at home to promotion-chasing Dale.
And it was another pick-me-up for Latics after Saturday’s win at Crewe ended a run of six defeats in seven league games.
Teenage striker Rhys Turner, who only scored his first goal for Latics the previous week against MK Dons, struck twice while top scorer Jonathan Forte ended his worrying drought.
Latics went with the same side which won at Crewe which meant fit-again keeper Jake Kean had to settle for a place on the bench as youngster Joel Coleman was handed his second start.
Striker Dominic Poleon, also recovered from injury, also had to settle for being a substitute as caretaker manager Dean Holden stayed loyal to his winning team.
The derby proved a feisty affair with Dale manager Keith Hill grumbling about Latics’ physical play as he had to make all three substitutions in the opening period as Holden’s men battled for another important win which leaves them only four points shy of the promotion play-off places.
Latics made a positive start and could have taken an early lead when Carl Winchester was denied by a great save by Jamie Jones who also did well to keep out Turner’s follow-up shot.
Mike Jones, renowned for scoring spectacular long-range goals, almost made it seven for the season when his 35-yard drive smashed against the crossbar.
Coleman was called into action to turn a drive from distance by Peter Vincenti round the post for a corner.
Winchester went close for a second time before Latics took the lead after half an hour when fine work by Mat Sadler whose shot rebounded to Turner who fired home the breakthrough goal.
And Luke Woodland almost doubled the lead in stoppage time when his drive whistled past the upright.
Latics added a second goal just short of the hour when Jones found Forte with a cross and the striker scored at the second attempt after his initial effort was blocked. It was his 14th goal of the season and only his second in 16 attempts.
And it was soon 3-0 when Turner scored his second of the game dancing past several challenges before finding the net from close range.
Dale then enjoyed their best spell with Michael Rose and Reuben Noble-Lazarus both had shots saved by Coleman.
But their night got worse with 14 minutes left when they were reduced to 10 men after losing a fourth player, Ashley Eastham, through injury.