OLDHAM ATHLETIC 2, BRISTOL ROVERS 1
Davis Keillor-Dunn scored twice as Oldham Athletic’s remarkable revival under John Sheridan continued with victory against Bristol Rovers.
In the space of two and a half weeks, Latics have gone from down and out to seeing a genuine chance of survival.
They have picked up seven points from a possible nine since Sheridan took charge for a sixth time and this was the first time they had recorded back-to-back league wins this campaign.
Before Sheridan was appointed after the heavy defeat at Harrogate Town, when Latics were seven points from safety and effectively eight by an inferior goal difference, the transformation has been unbelievable.
Suddenly they are only two points from a position of safety with a game in hand on third-bottom Carlisle as suddenly their destiny in in their own hands.
Sheridan made two changes from the side that won at Scunthorpe United on Saturday in the battle of the bottom two as Dylan Bahamboula and Junior Luamba returned to the side.
Unfortunately, Mike Fondop missed out through concussion protocol following sustaining a head injury last time out. Tope Obadeyi was unavailable as he struggled with his fitness after playing 90 minutes on Saturday.
Latics’ last triumph over the visitors at home was in April 2010 with the current squad endeavouring for a similar outcome after they opened the scoring inside a minute.
A defensive mistake allowed for Nicky Adams to release Keillor-Dunn one-on-one with Anssi Jaakola as Latics’ striker remained composed as he fired into the roof of the net.
Moments later, Luamba, coming into the game full of confidence after scoring Saturday’s matchwinner, thought that he had made it two goals in two games after finding the net, but the referee’s assistant had already raised his flag for what was a very tight call.
Aaron Collins, who ran riot at Boundary Park for Forest Green Rovers in the final game of last season, was excellently denied by Danny Rogers.
Bahamboula delighted with a trademark individual piece of brilliance as he glided past a defender before cutting inside to try his luck from 30-yards, but Anssi Jaakkola produced a fine save.
From the resulting corner, Latics doubled their lead courtesy of Keillor-Dunn once again. Adams delivered a pinpoint corner to Carl Piergianni who directed the ball into the path of his team mate, who tapped in from inside the six-yard box.
The Gas halved the deficit just before the interval. Substitute Sam Nicholson, who came on mid-half, kept his cool from a tight angle as he placed a low effort under Rogers to give his side a glimmer of hope.
In the second half, Keillor-Dunn set up Luamba, whose glancing header looked bound for the only for Jaakkola to superbly tip his attempt over his crossbar.
There was controversy 11 minutes from time as referee Scott Oldham failed to award Latics a goal after Callum Whelan’s effort off the crossbar before it appeared to bounce over the line. The players wheeled away in celebration, but the official’s call was no goal.
Near the end, Bahamboula pulled the ball back to Adams, but his effort went straight to the goalkeeper.
The Gas were gifted a free-kick and Luke Thomas’ well-struck effort was tipped over the crossbar by Rogers as Bristol Rovers tasted defeat for the first-time sincethe start of December.
Oldham Athletic: Rogers, Clarke, Hart, McGahey, Piergianni, Adams, Whelan, Keillor-Dunn, Bahamboula, Missilou, Luamba (Hunt 83). Subs (unused): Leutwiler, Fage, Da Silva, Hopcutt, Couto.
Goals: Keillor-Dunn (1, 31) for Oldham Athletic. Nicholson (44) for Bristol Rovers.
Attendance: 5,137 (372 visitors)