Never say die: the only way forward for Latics

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It cannot be said that every team play in the same vein expected of their manager. For every Pep Guardiola - addicted to artistry - there is a Keith Hill - an uncomproming centre half in his playing days and a passing maestro as the boss. Paul Dickov’s Oldham are very much the former.

The diminutive Scot was well-known for his tenacious play as he darted amongst centre halves. Tireless, fiery and feisty; Dickov was the archetypal terror.

It seems his never-say-die attitude has rubbed off on his players, as they showed in the recent 1-1 home draw against Bristol Rovers.

The Latics, still unbeaten in the league this season, failed to produce a display on a par with their impressive start to the campaign.

However, it speaks volumes that their rookie coach was disappointed that a winner could not be found, such is the standards that he has already set. Oldham’s defending was poor at the beginning of the match and they fell behind after only eight minutes.

The Pirates’ on-loan striker Will Hoskins found himself in between both centre halves and lobbed Dean Brill in the home side’s net.

Oldham equalised on the stroke of half-time with a goal that reeked of Dickov’s influence. The set-piece was straight from the training ground as Chris Taylor curled in a right-footed effort after the ball was rolled across the 18-yard line.

Oldham took the initiative and pressed for the winner after the break, with Oumare Tounkare missing the best chance. The on-loan Sunderland striker somehow conspired to miss the target with a header from inside the six-yard box.

Dickov’s men continued to press without success, even when the away side had a man sent-off. Danny Coles received a second yellow card for bringing Dean Kelly to the ground and he departed with Rovers remaining threat, which had peaked when Hoskins struck the bar shortly before.

Keen to take the opportunity, Dickov introduced himself into the fold and made a familiar impression; picking up a booking.

A strike force depleted by international call-ups and injury saw the need for the Scot to make an appearance, but it was midfielder Dale Stephens who came closest to a second goal. Stephens, who had earlier gone close with a free kick, struck a curling effort on to the top of the crossbar.

The result kept Oldham unbeaten and in the top three in League One. Latics travel to Peterborough on Saturday for a third v fourth clash, and the fighting spirit we’ve seen so far will need to be in evidence against Gary Johnson’s side.

The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.


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