OLDHAM ATHLETIC 3, PORT VALE 2
Head coach Keith Curle is hoping struggling Oldham Athletic’s much-needed home victory against Port Vale is a watershed moment in their Sky Bet League Two campaign.
It was a coupon-busting result as Latics, still with the second worst home record in the division, climbed out of the bottom two relegation places after inflicting only a second defeat in 14 matches in all competitions on the third-placed Valiants.
Vale, still third in the division’s away table, looked set for another success on their travels as they were 2-1 ahead with nine minutes left.
Latics produced a late show as Sam Hird equalised with nine minutes left before an Aaron Martin own goal three minutes into stoppage time gave Latics only their second home league win from nine attempts.
It left the near 2,000 visiting contingent stunned while Latics’ fans celebrated only their fourth win in 17 league matches.
Curle, who spoke about the win strengthening the mentality of his players, made fives changes from the midweek FA Cup defeat to Ipswich Town with Jamie Hopcutt, Ouss Cisse, Sam Hart, Zak Dearnley and Nicky Adams recalled to the starting line-up. Dylan Bahamboula was ruled out through illness and Tottenham Hotspur loanee Jamie Bowden was suspended.
Latics’ goalkeeper Jayson Leutwiler was called into action as he kept Tom Conlon at bay early in the game.
Darrell Clarke’s side broke the deadlock through a former Latics’ player David Worrall in the 20th minute firing home at the far post from a left-wing cross by James Gibbons.
Zak Dearnley looked to equalise but was twice denied by Brazilian goalkeeper Lucas Covolan who scored for Torquay United in last season’s National League play-off final against Hartlepool United
However, Davis Keillor-Dunn found a way past Covolan in the 32nd minute to equalise with a neat- flicked header from inside the six-yard box.
In the 41st minute, there was a heartfelt moment as fans around the ground took part in a minute’s applause to show their support for Latics’ fan Michael Taylor who is struggling with Covid-19 in hospital.
After the restart, Vale should have taken the lead again. Ben Garrity, a midfielder that spent the 2020-21 campaign on loan at Latics, set up Gibbons, but the full-back smashed his shot over the crossbar.
Left-back Gibbons gave Vale the lead in the 52nd minute converting a low right-wing cross from David Amoo.
Centre-back Harrison McGahey almost made it two goals in two games, but he was thwarted by Covolan.
The visitors needed a third goal and Conlon saw his strike hit the upright, a pivotal moment in the match.
Latics got themselves on level terms when Hart scored from inside the six-yard box, firing past Covolan.
In the 93rd minute, Latics dramatically found the winner as Hart’s strike was deflected past Covolan by Mafrtin causing mayhem on and off the pitch.
This is the first-time that Oldham have beaten Vale at home since August 2013 when Adam Rooney scored twice and James Dayton netted a spectacular strike in a 3-1 victory.
Oldham Athletic: Leutwiler, Clarke (Couto 59), Hart, Cisse (Hope 55), McGahey, Piergianni, Adams (Fage 59), Whelan, Keillor-Dunn, Dearnley, Hopcutt. Subs (unused): Southerington, Stobbs, Bettache, Simms.
Goals: Keillor-Dunn (31), Hart (81), Martin (90+3og) for Oldham Athletic. Worrall (20), Gibbons (52) for Port Vale.
Attendance: 6,080 (1,973 visitors).