HARROGATE TOWN 3, OLDHAM ATHLETIC 0
Oldham Athletic made a miserable return to action after an enforced 18-day break as they lost heavily at Harrogate Town to remain rooted to bottom spot in Sky Bet League Two.
And with Latics seven points adrift of safety – effectively eight because of their inferior goal difference – these are deeply worrying times at Boundary Park.
It was Latics’ first match since the 6-0 home defeat to Wigan Athletic in the Papa John’s Trophy while their last league game had been a goalless draw at Hartlepool United on New Year’s Day.
They had been hit by postponements through bad weather and Covid-19 but the break did not bring about a change of fortune.
Latics, without a league win for more than two months, headed to North Yorkshire in confident mood as Harrogate’s form had not been great – they entertained Latics after back-to-back 4-0 defeats.
Striker Jack Muldoon was the architect of Latics’ downfall scoring a hat-trick.
Interim head coach Selim Benachour made named changes from the Wigan game.
Loan player Alex Hunt was handed his debut while Callum Whelan, Nicky Adams and Davis Keillor-Dunn returned to the starting line-up.
On a second-ever visit to the EnviroVent Stadium, Latics found themselves on the back foot inside the opening minute as George Thomson dragged his low effort wide.
The Sulphurites entered the clash with no wins in their previous five league matches but took the lead in the 17th minute. Lewis Page made a raid down the left and delivered a pinpoint cross which Muldoon steered into the back of the net.
Dylan Bahamboula strived for an instant response with a mazy run, He took the ball past former Latics’ goalkeeper Mark Oxley, but a defender managed to clear the danger.
Just before the break, Benny Couto cut inside the from out wide and picked out Keillor-Dunn but his shot sailed over the crossbar.
Home manager Simon Weaver, in charge of Harrogate for 13 years, missed the game after contracting Covid-19, although he watched on iFollow as his side applied more pressure in the second half.
George Thomson, lively throughout the match, set up Luke Armstrong one-on-one with Jayson Leutwiler, but was bravely denied by Latics’ goalkeeper and then flicked another effort narrowly wide, also from Thomson’s delivery.
Harrogate added a second in the 73rd minute as Muldoon doubled his, and his side’s, tally. After a defensive mix-up by Whelan, Muldoon raced one-on-one with Leutwiler coolly slotting into the bottom corner.
Muldoon completed his hat-trick in the 89th minute after as he picked up the ball on the edge of the box and curled an effort into the top corner, a perfect ending to his and the team’s day as they recorded a first home win since October.
Oldham Athletic: Leutwiler, Clarke, Hart, Piergianni, Adams, Whelan (Missilou 82), Keillor-Dunn, Stobbs, Bahamboula, Hunt (Hope 58), Couto (Hopcutt 82). Subs (unused): Rogers, McGahey, Turner, Modi
Goals: Muldoon (17, 73, 89) for Harrogate.
Attendance: 2,689 (589 visitors).