PORT VALE 3, OLDHAM ATHLETIC 2
Oldham Athletic’s efforts ended in glorious failure as their mini revival ground to a halt at promoting-chasing Port Vale.
Latics’ spirit and character was underlined as they twice battled from behind only for the Valiants to land the knockout blow.
Christopher Missilou and Davis Keillor-Dunn were on target during the first half to cancel out a double from Jamie Proctor and, although John Sheridan’s side applied plenty of pressure, a long-range drive from Brad Walker proved decisive.
It was on reflection a cruel defeat as Latics were the equal of their third-placed opponents for large periods and had further chances in the second period to have drawn level again.
Sheridan rightly took encouragement from a battling display and Latics know they will have to show a similar level of performance in their remaining five fixtures if they are to stand any chance of staving off the threat of relegation.
They remain third bottom with Stevenage and Scunthorpe below them in the table as it is increasing looking between Latics, Barrow and Stevenage for the second spot with the Iron certainties to be relegated.
The first half was an entertainingly open spectacle which produced four goals.
Vale, who had won six of their previous seven games, took a 10th minute lead, forcing the ball home after Connor Hall had stolen possession.
The response from Latics was instant with Missilou equalising with a stooping header following a right-wing cross from Nicky Adams was touched back by Hallam Hope, allowing the midfielder to convert.
Latics’ goalkeeper Danny Rogers needed to be quick off his line to deny former Latics’ player Ben Garrity as Vale remained in the ascendancy.
Proctor put Vale back in front, making a run to the far post to convert a centre from Ryan Edmundson.
Having come within inches of drawing Latics level when Sam Hart struck the crossbar from a free kick, Latics restore parity again in added time.
A free-kick from Adams was touched back by Will Sutton, allowing Keillor-Dunn to stab the ball home.
After deservedly gone in at the break on level terms, Latics started the second period on the front foot again as Keillor-Dunn bent a beautiful curling effort just wide of the upright.
Vale remained a threat and after chances for Garrity and James Wilson, they regained the lead when Brad Walker found the bottom right-hand corner from range.
Latics continued to press, Carl Piergianni assuming the role of makeshift striker in the latter stages but, despite seeing plenty of the ball in the final third, they were unable to fight back again.
Oldham Athletic: Rogers, Clarke, Hart, Piergianni, Adams, Whelan, Hope (Hopcutt 57), Keillor-Dunn, Missilou, Luamba (Jameson 80), Sutton. Subs (not used): Leutwiler, Diarra, Hunt, Couto, Vaughan.
Goals: Proctor (10, 34), Walker (54) for Port Vale. Missilou (16), Keillor-Dunn (45+1) for Oldham Athletic.
Attendance: 8.384 (1,516 visitors).