OLDHAM ATHLETIC 0, HARTLEPOOL UNITED 0
The most vociferous protests yet against Abdallah Lemsagam’s rule as Oldham Athletic owner preceded the Sky Bet League Two home match against Hartlepool United.
An estimated 500 fans demonstrated outside Boundary Park before the game as a coffin was carried along Sheepfoot Lane and laid to rest outside the main entrance.
It followed two pitch invasions which had disrupted recent matches with other protests including throwing tennis balls and a flare on to the pitch as they fear the club, bottom of the table, will lose its EFL status and possibly become another Bury or Macclesfield Town.
There is no doubt the toxic atmosphere among Latics’ fans is not helping Latics’ cause as they remain rooted to the foot of League Two with only four points from eight games, a return which if replicated throughout the season would see them go down.
It was a well-earned point against newly promoted Hartlepool with both sides having chances to claim maximum points.
Head coach Keith Curle named three changes for the game against Hartlepool following the heavy defeat at Leyton Orient last weekend. Dylan Bahamboula, Alan Sheehan and Callum Whelan all returned.
Latics should have taken the lead in the seventh minute through Hallam Hope.
Hope initially forced goalkeeper Ben Killip into a fine save from his effort on the edge of the box before the ball landed kindly for him with the goal at his mercy. However, Zaine Francis-Angol raced back to clear his second attempt off the line.
Captain Nicky Featherstone had Hartlepool’s first chance, but his effort was comfortably saved by Jayson Leutwiler.
In the 40th minute, Dave Challinor’s men were close to taking a lead. Jamie Sterry, a transfer target for Latics in the summer, delivered a pinpoint cross to Marc Shelton in the box, but the midfielder could only direct his header against the post.
Davis Keillor-Dunn set up Jordan Clarke on the edge of the box, but the right-back smashed his into the stand.
Mike Fondop joined Hartlepool during midweek and he could have made an instant impact as he nearly found himself on the scoresheet when he volleyed wide of the target from David Ferguson’s cross.
Early into the second-half, Hope won possession towards the halfway line which allowed him to dribble goalwards, he cut inside from the left-wing before curling just past the far post.
Latics went in search of an opener and nearly got their rewards as Callum Whelan raced into the box before blasting the ball across the face of goal. Hope and Keillor-Dunn could not get on the end of the cross with an open net in front of them.
Carl Piergianni led by example when he bravely blocked Lee Molyneux’s strike from inside the six-yard box which looked destined for the net with the Hartlepool fans already celebrating.
Later, Fondop produced an excellent bicycle kick inside the Latics’ area, and it nearly found its way into the far corner. Molyneux then drove forward before his powerful low effort was easily saved by Leutwiler.
Latics had two chances late on to earn three points, firstly, substitute Jamie Bowden dragged his shot past the far post. In added time, Hope blasted a low cross into a dangerous area, but Gary Liddle managed to put in a vital block.
Oldham Athletic: Leutwiler, Clarke, Piergianni, Whelan (Bowden 71), Hope, Keillor-Dunn (Vaughan 71), Jameson, Diarra, Bahamboula, Bettache (Dearnley 84), Sheehan. Subs (not used): Danielewicz, Fage, Da Silva, Couto.
Attendance: 3,934 (946 visitors).