After Saturday’s game against Peterborough, there is only one word that can sum up the recent form for Paul Dickov’s men- alarming!
In their last 5 games, they have failed to score and it is now over 6 and a half hours since they last scored in the 1-1 draw against Dagenham.
Starting the ‘non-scoring streak’ was, what seemed at the time a good result, a 0-0 draw away at Huddersfield. This left us in the play-off places but with teams like Charlton and Milton Keynes breathing down our necks. We followed this up with an almighty poor effort against Carlisle, resulting in a 0-1 home defeat. This was made especially disappointing as there was a ticket offer for the game, where everyone could watch the game for a minimal £2. A sign which clearly has carried on to consequent games is the lack of chances being created by the blues. Tounkara, the man giant himself up-front, has started to show tiredness and a decline in front of goal, even resulting in him starting from the bench in the game against Milton Keynes last week.
Following on from the Carlisle defeat, it was obvious to anyone linked with the club that our next game was against our former manager Dave Penney at his new stomping-ground the Memorial Stadium, the home of Bristol Rovers. It was also plain to see for many, myself included, that given the run the rovers were on at the time, Mr Penney was going to be eager to get one over his own team. In a game where, according to reports, latics had many a chance to claim a positive result, it ended up being rovers who came out on top scoring the only goal of the game.
With a stalemate to beat all stalemates against fellow play-off rivals MK Dons, Athletic came into Saturday’s game with Peterborough with something to prove after a disappointing, and more importantly goalless, fortnight. Unfortunately, it turned out to be something of a nightmare for the Boundary Park faithful as Peterborough romped to a 0-5 away win. Frankly, I have never seen a team win 0-5 so easily. Scoring their first in the opening five minutes of the second half, Peterborough never looked back as they capitalised on their oppositions lack of fight as they strolled to what seemed was a convincing win. Let me tell you- as an Oldham Athletic fan of over 15 years- it was disheartening seeing the stands empty before my weary eyes as the third, fourth, and fifth goal went in. May I pay a compliment to Craig Mckail-Smith who scored one of the finest goals to grace Boundary Park in my time. Rounding off the scoring, he picked up a clearance on the edge of the Latics’ box and, first time, volleyed with his left foot into the far corner, leaving keeper Ben Amos staring into the back of his net.
After starting the month with a resounding 4-0 win against recent bogey-side Hartlepool, the latics have now ended the month in a completely contrasting mood. Admittedly, the team has had suspensions which have affected them in the past 2 or 3 games, but the performances of the players stepping in has been less-than average. With our next home game against Sheffield Wednesday sandwiched in-between even tougher games away at Bournemouth on Saturday and Brighton coming to Boundary Park in a fortnight, it seems latics are in a period of stark regression, and many of the fans (myself included) are wondering where our next point and even our next goal is coming from. A play-off berth is out of the question; our current position of 8th has been maintained only due to the large gap that we had created in our good run of form in January. As this has now been closed, it will only be a matter of time before my team start the worrying slide down the table. Had it not been for the tremendous start by Dickov and his men, we could easily have been commencing a fight against relegation.