OLDHAM ATHLETIC 2, WALSALL 0
A makeshift Oldham Athletic side posted a much-needed home win against Walsall to ease their fears of losing their English Football League status.
It also gave an exciting glimpse into the future as schoolboy Zac Emmerson was handed a debut aged 15 years and 73 days making him the second youngest player to appear in the EFL.
There was another professional debut, this time for scholar Reece Gaskell.
Goals from Scott Wilson and Desire Segbe Azankpo sealed three hugely important points and only a third league win from 14 attempts in front of a pitifully low Boundary Park crowd of 2,438, hardly surprising after Saturday’s horror home loss to Macclesfield Town.
The suspensions to Mohamed Maouche, Mohammed Sylla and Tomas Egert, couple with injuries to Johan Branger-Engone, Zak Mills and Dylan Fage injured, Latics had four teenagers on the bench.
It has been a challenging start for new head coach Dino Maamria whose side had won only once in six games before the Walsall game, and that was his debut at home to Morecambe.
After being downbeat after Saturday’s loss, Maamria was delighted with this “impressive” performance.
In the opening half Walsall were the livelier side as Alfie Bates, Rory Holden and Matt Sadler all having chances.
Latics’ first clear-cut chance came just before half-time when Jonny Smith and Wilson set up Chris McCann whose shot was well saved by Jack Rose.
Holden was denied by goalkeeper Zeus de la Pas as Walsall made the livelier start to the second period.
The pivotal moment in the game came early in the second half when former Latics’ player Sadler was sent off for a deliberate handball to prevent an opponent breaking through on goal.
In the 55th minute, Latics took the lead after great football down the left by saw Alex Iacovitti whose lay-off was smashed into the top corner.
It was Wilson’s first goal of the season and first goal for Latics after his summer move from Macclesfield Town.
Maamria’s side doubled its advantage in the 69th minute when a great cross from the left was coolly converted by Azankpo.
It was a proud moment in the 85th minute as Emmerson came on to make his professional debut and becoming the second youngest player to play in the EFL. And in the 90th minute he was joined by Gaskell who also came on to make his professional debut.
Goals: Wilson (55), Azankpo (69) for Oldham Athletic.
Oldham Athletic (4-1-3-2): de la Paz; Hamer, Wheater, Stott, Iacovitto; McCann; Morais (Eagles 85), Missilou, Smith; Azankpo (Emmerson 85), Wilson (Gaskell 90). Subs (not used): Woods, Smith-Brown, McHale, McKinney.
Attendance 2,438 (199 visitors).