AFC WIMBLEDON 0, OLDHAM ATHLETIC 0.
Oldham Athletic’s goalless draw at AFC Wimbledon in their final Sky Bet League One game of the season encapsulated their season in a nutshell.
Latics fired yet another blank – 26 in 46 league games – and found the net only 31 times in the league, their lowest-ever return for a season.
Yet at the opposite end of the pitch, Latics conceded 44 goals to have the fourth best defensive record in the division.
And goalkeeper Connor Ripley had plenty to celebrate after keeping an 18th league clean sheet to equal Les Pogliacomi’s club record. It was 19 in all competition.
Ripley produced another excellent display to ensure Latics, already save from the threat of relegation, finished the season 17th and four points clean of the bottom four.
After finally banishing the spectre of relegation that hung over them for most of the campaign, the 793 visiting fans, were able to celebrate with fancy dress, a tradition for the last away game of the season, again featuring as Latics made their first-ever visit to Kingsmeadow.
Manager John Sheridan was true to his word and made seven changes to the side which drew 1-1 with Rochdale last week to finally banish the threat of relegation.
Josh Law and George Edmundson were drafted into defence, Aiden O’Neill, Lee Croft and Ryan Flynn into midfiel while Michael Ngoo and Tope Obadeyi were the front pairing.
Teenager Jamie Stott, who was making his fourth consecutive appearance, had the first shot of the game, but his effort flew wide.
Dons started to apply pressure with former Latis’ striker Dominic Poleon going close on a couple of occasions, Ripley denying him with one good save.
Minutes later, Andy Barcham cut in from the left and shot but again Ripley was on hand to save the day before Alfie Egan wasted another chance by shooting wide.
Midway through the half, Ripley had his captain Peter Clarke to thank for keeping the scores level as he made a goalline clearance to keep out Barcham’s goalbound effort.
Dons ought to have taken the lead when Poleon was denied by Ripley before Lyle Taylor headed against the upright and Poloen headed the rebound wide.
Latics’ best chance of the opening half came after 40 minutes when Obadeyi’s effort was tipped over the bar by James Shea.
Latics started the second half brightly as Ryan Flynn had an early shot deflected wide.
Sheridan made a change early in the second half as Chris Taylor replaced Ousmane Fane. And he almost made an immediate impact as he crossed to Ngoo who headed wide.
Ripley made another super save on the hour. The ball broke for Taylor six yards out but the keeper denied the striker with his feet.
Latics had a chance to take the lead after 65 minutes. Ryan McLaughlin, who replaced Croft, got beyond the goalkeeper who miss-kicked his effort, he crossed for Ngoo but Wimbledon cleared the danger.
They had another chance when O’Neill intercepted a loose pass and played Flynn through on goal but the midfielder saw his shot saved by Shea.
Josh Law almost opened the scoring in the final 10 minutes of the game but thundered his effort over the crossbar from 30 yards.
In the latter stages, Ripley again starred and it was fitting he should have the last word as he had been one of the standout performers in this disappointing campaign.
But the final minutes belonged to Ripley who pulled off a sting of saves to preserve the clean sheet and he was the hero of the afternoon.
Oldham Athletic (4-4-2): Ripley; Law, Edmundson, Clarke, Stott; O’Neill, Fane (Taylor 51), Croft (McLaughlin 63), Flynn; Ngoo (Banks 70), Obadeyi.Subs (not used): Kettings, Wilson, Green, Erwin
Attendance: 4,867 (793 visitors)