They weren’t even born when these two clubs last met in the league.
It has been 36 years since Oldham met Rochdale as equals and none of today’s major players were born to see the Latics’ 3-1 win in 1974. In fact, only Rochdale’s veteran captain Gary Jones was close to the cradle back then.
It was, however, the younger players that made the difference this time around as the bitterly cold rearranged fixture ended in stalemate.
Both sides have focused on youth in recent times with Dickov insisting on such a policy upon his arrival, supplementing the club’s young players with on-loan youngsters. It was the on-loan duo of Oumare Tounkara and Cedric Evina who gave Oldham the lead here.
A Tounkara back-flick found Evina just outside the area and he curled a precision effort around a helpless Josh Lillis in the Rochdale goal. It was no more than Oldham deserved as they dominated the first-period.
They could have had a bigger lead as they went into the break, but were pegged back ten minutes before the interval.
Nicky Adams put an inviting cross behind the Oldham defence and Matt Done was on hand to tap a simple finish into the net. The return of parity was perhaps undeserved, but triggered a radical turnaround in the fortunes of both sides.
Oldham were no longer the dominant force after the break as Rochdale took charge. Dean Brill didn’t need gloves to keep his hands warm in the sub-zero temperatures as the Rochdale attack provided assistance.
A confident performance in the visitor’s goal saw the side escape with a point following impressive saves from Jones and, most notably, Adams- who looked to have given his side a much-needed victory.
The point ensured that Oldham continued their unbeaten run and reached their target of a play-off place. The climb up the table in recent weeks has seen the Latics move tantalisingly close to the top six and the point gained at Spotland gave them a hold on the final spot, albeit on goal difference.
The position in the table will be a boost to the confidence at the club, even at this early stage. Spirits were high even before the side climbed into contention for promotion; as exemplified by Evina’s reaction to his goal. The Arsenal loanee sprinted towards his manager and embraced him with all the indications of a harmonious camp.
Dickov has refuted claims that his side are overachieving, despite their relatively meagre resources. "The future is bright if you look at the longer term and at the bigger picture. The performances the lads are giving us at the moment are magnificent.”
It is clear the players are warming to the Scot’s methods, even if the rest of the country is suffering from the big freeze.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.
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