OLDHAM ATHLETIC 0, NEWPORT COUNTY 1
Oldham Athletic had a new-look side, but it was the same old story as they were beaten at home by Newport County in their opening Sky Bet League Two match of the season.
Latics had the worst home record in the division in 2020-21 with 15 defeats from 23 league games at Boundary Park.
And 42-year-old Kevin Ellison’s last-minute winner for the Exiles ensured there was no upturn in home fortunes.
Head coach Keith Curle named a strong starting side despite his squad being hit by several cases of Covid-19.
Seven players were handed their debuts including player-coach Alan Sheehan who returned for a league match for the first-time since 2009.
Latics began on the front foot but failed to create any clear-cut opportunities of note.
Great persistence by Tottenham Hotspur loanee Jamie Bowden allowed him to find his way into the area, but the midfielder couldn’t find a teammate with the final pass.
Following that, Latics produced some great football in the middle of the park before Nicky Adams delivered into the area, however, the Newport County goalkeeper easily caught the cross.
Michael Flynn’s side looked dangerous when Lewis Collins received possession inside the final third and dribbled towards goal before trying to slot Robbie Willmott clean through on the right-hand side, but Sam Hart produced a remarkable interception to deny him.
Another Latics debutant Ousseynou Cisse, looking to impress the Boundary Park faithful, picked up the ball around 35-yards from goal before, ambitiously, trying his luck on the half-volley, but it flew past the far post.
Early into the second-half, former Bristol Rovers midfielder Ed Upson tested Latics’ new shot-stopper as he powerfully struck from distance, but Danny Rogers was equal to it.
In the 57th minute, Mickey Demetriou found the back of the net for the Exiles as he headed in from close range following a free-kick delivery which sparked celebrations in the away end, however, to their frustration, the referee’s assistant already had his flag raised so the goal didn’t count.
Curle saw his side go close when Adams delivered a cross onto the head of Carl Piergianni, but the skipper couldn’t direct his header on target.
Latics nearly broke the deadlock with minutes to go when Adams produced a pinpoint cross from a free-kick towards Piergianni, however, the defender’s towering header went agonisingly past the post.
In the 89th minute, the charismatic veteran Ellison won the match for his side as the substitute’s glancing header looped over Rogers and into the far corner before he reeled away with a jubilant celebration.
The South Wales outfit nearly doubled their advantage in added time as Timmy Abraham, brother of Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham, raced through but before he was able to shoot, Piergianni produced a fine tackle to deny the attacker.
Oldham Athletic: Rogers, J.Clarke (Stobbs 74), Hart, Cisse, Piergianni, Adams, Whelan, Keillor-Dunn, Bowden, Blyth (Luamba 58), Sheehan (Jameson 46). Subs (not used): Danielewicz, Da Silva, Badan, Vaughan.
Goal: Ellison, 89, for Newport.
Attendance: 4,094 (317 visitors).