SCUNTHORPE UNITED 0, OLDHAM ATHLETIC 1
Teenage super-sub Junior Luamba earned Oldham Athletic what could prove three priceless points in their battle to secure EFL survival.
The 18-year-old striker, an academy graduate, came off the bench and within five minutes had scored the late winner at Scunthorpe United in the battle of League Two’s bottom two.
With the game seemingly destined to remain goalless, Luamba became the hero seven minutes from the end. Nicky Adams floated an inviting corner towards Carl Piergianni and the defender clipped the ball into the path of the youngster who found the net with an acrobatic effort.
And it was not the first time this season that Luamba, making only his 13th senior appearance, has been a matchwinner as he scored the decisive goal in the 96th minute at Sutton United.
It was a ‘colossal’ victory according to the club’s media as they still remain five points from safety. Had they lost the margin would have been a daunting eight.
But this success, Latics’ first in the league in 11 games since November 20 when they beat Port Vale, provides a flicker of hope as new head coach John Sheridan has collected four points from his first two matches.
And Sheridan’s arrival has lifted the club with 1,500 fans travelling to Scunthorpe on a bitterly cold afternoon.
How fortunes have changed for the Iron who, since their emphatic 3-1 win at Boundary Park on Boxing Day, have lost all seven league games and they are rooted in last place.
Following a professional display that earned a point against Rochdale, Sheridan made two changes to his starting line-up with new signings Mike Fondop and Tope Obadeyi replacing Dylan Bahamboula and Alex Hunt. Originally, Jack Stobbs was selected in the side, bjut suffered an injury in the warm-up.
Obadeyi, starting a second spell with Latics, started on the front foot and asked questions of the home defence, dragging an early effort wide.
Unfortunately, Fondop suffered a head injury which meant that his debut was cut short after 25 minutes as he was replaced by Bahamboula.
Keith Hill’s side earned a free kick on the edge of the box as Tyrese Sinclair, an attacker that enjoyed a stint in the Latics academy, was brought down by Sam Hart. The Mansfield-loanee fired the set piece into the defensive wall.
The Iron, rooted to the foot of the division, made a positive start to the second half as Rekeil Pyke pulled the ball back to fellow deadline day signing striker Joe Nuttall who fired over.
Latics applied pressure with Adams’ corner finding Piergianni whose towering header flew wide.
In the 83rd minute, the deadlock was finally broken. Adams delivered a pinpoint corner towards Piergianni who turned the ball towards goal and Luamba reacted quickest with an overhead-kick into the far corner, the second professional goal of his career as the away end erupted.
Latics remained disciplined and their game management of the latter stages could not be faulted as they held on to maximum points.
Oldham Athletic: Rogers, Clarke, McGahey, Piergianni, Hart, Adams, Missilou, Whelan, Obadeyi, Keillor-Dunn (Luamba 78), Fondop (Bahamboula 25). Subs (unused): Leutwiler, Couto, Hunt, Vaughan.
Goal: Luamba (83) for Oldham Athletic.