OLDHAM ATHLETIC 2, NOTTS COUNTY 2
Manager David Unsworth praised the spirit of his players as struggling Oldham Athletic twice battled from behind to hold Vanarama National League leaders Notts County.
Six days after Latics were soundly beaten 4-1 at Notts County, the return proved anything but the formality of their first meeting as the point lifted them out of the bottom four relegation places.
“The players were outstanding from the first minute to the last. We needed a secure game plan and all credit to the players who were immense,” explained Unsworth.
“It was reward for all the effort, heart and dedication in training as they wanted to right the wrongs from last week. I cannot praise them enough.
“We worked all week on the way we set up and had to stick to the game plan, even when we went behind, and got our just rewards.
“We had something to prove against the division’s top team, and we proved it.”
Latics might even have snatched victory at the death as substitute Timmy Abraham, brother of former Chelsea star Tammy, missed a sitter as he blazed over from three yards after looking certain to convert a low cross from Benny Couto, another replacement.
“On another day, it goes in and we would be jumping around like lunatics,” Unsworth continued.
Unsworth added the draw gives his players belief, saying: “It is a psychological boost as we know we can compete against the best team in the division.
“We are still work in progress and this is a new team. We will get better and today showed we are going in the right direction.”
The opening period was a non-event other than Joe Nuttall bursting clear in stoppage time only to be denied by a last-ditch tackle from Aden Baldwin.
The second half exploded to life and became a gripping spectacle for the crowd of 7,312 which included 1,249 visiting fans.
The deadlock was broken in the 51st minute when Macauley Langstaff was on hand to convert a low cross by Aaron Nemane from close range for his 22nd goal of a prolific season.
County fans were taunting Unsworth, with only two wins from 14 league games, that he would be sacked in the morning, and even Latics’ supporters joined in as it was a challenging moment.
Instead of capitulating, however, Latics were level two minutes later after a clanger from goalkeeper Sam Slocombe.
The 34-year-old, who has bags of EFL experience, came out to clear as Nuttall powered through on goal. Instead of whacking the ball up field, he tried dribbling the ball out of danger only to lose possession enabling Nathan Sheron a simple task of steering a shot from 35 yards into an empty net.
That was the catalyst and stroke of good fortune Latics needed as County had been the superior side and showed why they and Wrexham are the favourites for promotion.
County regained the lead in the 58th minute when Ruben Rodriguez’s cross was poorly cleared to substitute Cedwyn Scott, who had only just come in, as he rifled home a low shot.
Latics came back again and equalised through a 78th minute penalty from Nuttall which was awarded when Peter Clarke was flattened by Kyle Cameron.
Nuttall made it two goals in two appearances since his move from Scunthorpe United last month for an undisclosed amount.
In a frenetic finish, both sides had chances to take maximum points.
Scott, sliding in, just failed to convert a low ball by Cameron across the face of goal as County were denied.
It was then Walsall loanee Abraham’s turn as he skied a cross from Couto over the bar when he looked certain to score.