OLDHAM ATHLETIC 3, STEVENAGE 0
Oldham Athletic rediscovered a route to goal as they finally posted a first home Sky Bet League Two home win of the season in their basement battle against Stevenage.
Latics scored three goals – half as many as in their previous 11 league games – as they climbed out of the relegation places for the first time this campaign.
After picking up only one point from a possible 15 at home in the league, this was a significant victory, their first in the league at Boundary Park for more than six months since they walloped Colchester United 5-2.
This was the third win of the season and, in the wake or recent improved results, there are signs Latics may finally be about to climb further out of trouble.
Davis Keillor-Dunn, the matchwinner at Rochdale, is back in last season’s scoring groove with two more in the opening 17 minutes while a second-half strike from Dylan Bahamboula sealed victory.
Latics remained unchanged from the side that gained a point in a goalless draw at Mansfield Town last weekend.
The first sight of goal came for Latics in the second minute, a ball played across the box by Carl Piergianni found Jack Stobbs whose shot was deflected behind for a corner kick.
Latics continued their good start and Bahamboula headed against an upright from a Stobbs cross.
Head coach Keith Curle’s side scored the goal their early dominance deserved in the sixth minute. A clever corner routine from Jamie Bowden and Benny Couto was well finished by Keillor-Dunn.
The lead was doubled in the 17th minute, Zak Dearnley led a brilliant counterattack, finding Bahamboula who evaded challenges before he laid the ball off to Keillor-Dunn who took his time before expertly finding the corner of the net.
There was a hairy moment at the other end of the pitch in the 28th minute but Jayson Leutwiler did just about enough to keep out the inform Elliot List.
Stevenage grew into the game as the first half went on and Latics again had a nervy moment in the 43rd minute. It took a series of blocks from Latics’ defence to deny the visitors.
It wasn’t the last opportunity that Stevenage had before the end of the first half, List found himself unmarked in the Latics’ box but his header didn’t trouble Leutwiler.
Latics began the second half well as Dearnley and Callum Whelan both had efforts from range inside the first eight minutes, but both flew wide.
They finally stretched their lead in the 58th minute with another quick counterattack. Again, it was Dearnley to start the move by playing a great ball over the top to Bahamboula who got there before the advancing goalkeeper and the Congolese forward kept his nerve to roll the ball into an empty net.
Stevenage continued to try and get back into the game and List had another opportunity, but he couldn’t get enough power on his header from Bruno Andrade’s cross and it was easily saved by Leutwiler.
Bahamboula continued to cause Stevenage trouble and in the 80th minute he picked the ball up near halfway and executed one of his trademark runs before eventually firing the ball over the bar.
Latics held firm defensively to keep a fourth clean sheet in five league games as Curle, a defender in his illustrious playing days, has clearly sorted that department.
Oldham Athletic: Leutwiler, Clarke, Piergianni, McGahey, Stobbs (Vaughan, 87), Whelan, Keillor-Dunn, Bowden, Couto, Bahamboula (Hope, 90), Dearnley (Fage, 75). Subs (unused): Rogers, Da Silva, Edwards, Sheehan.
The goals: Keillor-Dunn (8, 17), Bahamboula (58) for Oldham Athletic.
Attendance:3,492 (107 visitors).