OLDHAM ATHLETIC 5, FOREST GREEN ROVERS 5
It will go down as one of the most extraordinary games in Oldham Athletic’s long and illustrious history, a remarkable 5-5 draw at home to Sky Bet League Two leaders Forest Green Rovers.
Latics displayed the fight, grit and determination required if they are to escape relegation from the EFL after 114 years of continuous membership.
They remain in the bottom two and three points adrift of safety but will have taken belief they can avoid the drop.
It was a point which looked beyond their reach as league leaders Rovers held 4-1 and 5-3 leads as they looked certain to leave Boundary Park victorious.
But interim head coach Selim Benachour’s side twice fought back from the dead to pick up only their eighth home point from a possible 33.
Amazing was the fact Latics scored five goals, almost a quarter of the total output for the previous 20 league matches as finding the net has been a massive issue.
And it was a result that upset the form book as Latics, still with the worst home record in the division, were up against the side with the best away record – it is now seven wins, four draws and no defeats as they are four points clear at the top.
Davis Keillor-Dunn gave Latics an early lead with a spectacular strike from distance before Jack Aitchison’s goal and a Jamille Matt brace sent the Gloucestershire-based outfit into the break with a seemingly comfortable lead.
In the second half, Matty Stevens made it 4-1 for the visitors, however, two quick-fire goals from Keillor-Dunn and Hallam Hope sparked the green shoots of recovery.
But when Stevens added his second of the match to make it 5-3, it again looked beyond Latics’ reach.
Substitute Jack Stobbs then reduced the deficit to one goal with an excellent effort before Latics levelled when the same player’s cross was put through his own goal by Kane Wilson to complete the unlikeliest of comebacks.
After a frustrating defeat against Tranmere Rovers in midweek, Benachour made five changes to his side as Dylan Bahamboula, Sam Hart, Jordan Clarke and Callum Whelan returned alongside Junior Luamba who was making his first appearance since the victory over Sutton United in August.
Latics displayed attacking intent from the offset with Benny Couto having two early chances.
In the 11th minute, Latics broke the deadlock as Keillor-Dunn produced a goal of the season contender, rifling a shot into the top corner from about 35 yards.
However, the joy was short-lived as Forest Green equalised within two minutes. Wilson illustrated immense vision to slot Aitchison one-on-one with Jayson Leutwiler before the former Celtic man fired under the goalkeeper for his fifth of the campaign.
Rob Edwards’ outfit took the lead after 27 minutes through Matt, a former transfer target during Dino Maamria’s spell at Latics’ head coach, found himself clean through on goal after being picked out by his strike partner, Stevens, and he slotted a shot under Leutwiler.
Rovers extended their advantage before the interval with Matt scoring his 14th of the season. Nicky Cadden’s cross picked out the forward inside the six-yard box and Matt coolly steered home his header.
After the restart, the league’s top scorers added another to make it 4-1 through Stevens. Wilson, once again, delivered an inviting cross and the striker turned the ball past Leutwiler to make it seven goals in eight games.
Latics quickly scored a second when Bahamboula raced down the right-flank before picking out substitute Hope with a low cross and the striker flicked the ball through the legs of McGee.
The deficit was reduced to 4-3 just short of the hour when Adams’ cross was cleared into the path of Keillor-Dunn who found the bottom corner.
Rovers restored their two-goal lead. Initially, Leutwiler produced a fine double save before the ball fell to the feet of Stevens who blasted home.
Stobbs cut inside from the left-wing before curling his effort into the far corner as Latics again reduced the deficit to one goal.
Latics continued to battle and got their rewards in the 78th minute. Stobbs’ cross deflected off Wilson and rolled into his own net as they earned a deserved draw in the highest scoring game since the 5-4 win against Peterborough in 2014.
Oldham Athletic: Leutwiler, Clarke, Piergianni, Hart, Couto (Stobbs 52), Whelan, Bowden, Luamba (Hope 52), Adams, Keillor-Dunn, Bahamboula (Vaughan 67). Subs (unused): Southerington , Hopcutt, McGahey, Cisse.
Goals: Keillor-Dunn, (10, 59), Hope, (56), Stobbs, (66), Wilson, (78og) for Oldham Athletic. Aitchison, (13), Matt, (27, 44), Stevens, (48, 63) for Forest Green Rovers.
Attendance: 3,621 (157 visitors).