TRANMERE ROVERS 2, OLDHAM ATHLETIC 2
Oldham Athletic, forced to play almost half the match with 10 man, displayed resilience to earn a hard-earned point at promotion-chasing Tranmere Rovers.
If the Wirral side thought Sido Jombati’s 48th minute dismissal would be the pivotal moment of the match, they were mistaken.
Though Tranmere made their numerical advantage count as they went 2-1 ahead within three minutes, Latics were far from out for the count.
Congo international Dylan Bahamboula equalised with 12 minutes left with a strike that surely will be a goal-of-the season contender.
It earned head coach Harry Kewell’s side a deserved draw but, in the grand scheme of things, the stalemate leaves them in limbo.
Latics are 17th and nine points adrift of the play offs as their form remains erratic having lost four of their last eight games. If they are to challenge for a top-seven place, they need to find a level of consistency they have lacked in the current campaign.
And after recently equalling a club record with seven straight away victories in all competitions, Latics suddenly cannot win in their last five games on their travels.
Tranmere, meanwhile, have lost only once in their last 11 games in all competitions, though they will regard this as two dropped points.
Latics made two changes from the side that started the dramatic 4-3 loss at Forest Green Rovers four days earlier.
Harry Clarke and Serhat Tasdemir were recalled in place of Carl Piergianni and Bobby Grant.
It was the first start for Peterborough loanee Tasdemir, an Azerbaijan U19 international.
Latics were quick off the mark as Davis Keillor-Dunn gave them a second-minute breakthrough with a fabulous solo effort.
Keillor-Dunn picked up the ball in midfield and powered into the right side penalty area before firing a low shot across goalkeeper Scott Davies for his seventh goal of the season.
Blustery conditions and a threadbare pitch made playing football challenging as both sides struggled to find fluency to their game.
James Vaughan forced a decent save from Latics’ goalkeeper Ian Lawlor before having a great chance to equalise in the 38th minute.
Tranmere were awarded a penalty for Andreas Badan’s trip on Vaughan whose spot kick was kept out by the legs of Lawlor as he wasted the opportunity to score his 20th goal of the season.
However, four minutes later they were level through a fabulous strike from Calum MacDonald, the midfielder’s first goal for the club.
MacDonald, signed from Blackpool after a trial, played a return pass with Keiron Morris before firing an unstoppable shot high into the net from about 25 yards.
Jombati was sent off soon after the restart and Latics were still reorganising when Tranmere went ahead in the 51st minute.
Liam Feeney crossed from the right for Vaughan to flick on the ball to Kaiyne Woolery who was free at the far post for a simple tap-in, his ninth goal of the season.
Vaughan shot just wide and then had an effort cleared off the line by George Blackwood as Latics at times lived dangerously.
But out of nothing came Latics’ equaliser as Bahamboula, wide of the right, delivered an Exocet which arrowed into the far top corner of the net.
Tranmere, who had just brought on David Nugent, probed for a winner in the latter stages, but Latics were never seriously threatened as they defended well.