Nearly 2,000 Oldham fans travelled the short distance to Spotland, only to be rewarded with another miserable performance lacking any sort of desire or passion required from a local derby. Opponents Rochdale were good value for their 1-0 win, but Oldham’s ability to show absolutely no progress from each passing defeat is an alarming problem that is starting to anger the Latics faithful. And rightly so.
Before the game, I previewed the game with Oldham and Rochdale fan Mike, and looked at whether there is any rivalry between the two clubs. Now, with more help from Mike, I look at the talking points from Dale’s deserved derby win, and where Oldham go from here.
Story of the Game:
Rochdale manager claims his side won the game with their excellent first half performance as Dale dominated proceedings, particularly in midfield. They could have gone ahead as Joe Bunney’s 30-yard free-kick crashed against the crossbar but soon took the lead as Calvin Andrew had plenty of room on the left to cross the ball into the onrushing Matty Lund who fired past Connor Ripley.
The goal sparked some life into Oldham who had a couple of half-efforts before half time. Latics tried to press after the break, through substitute Billy McKay’s flicked header and Lee Erwin’s inventive 30-yard volley.
Rochdale were in control throughout though, and missed glorious opportunities to seal the game on the break through Andrew, Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, Joe Thompson and Callum Camps – whose 25-yard volley had to be tipped over by a flying Ripley save. By full time, the home side had easily withstood Oldham’s rare threat, and fully deserved the three points for their organised and disciplined approach.
How did the teams perform?
Oldham’s showing was a mirror image of recent defeats to Bristol Rovers, Bolton, MK Dons and Swindon. Hopeful long balls, no link between midfield and attack, and ultimately toothless periods of pressure saw another afternoon pass by without scoring. Perhaps they deserved a goal for their second half pressure, but in truth they were easily overran by Rochdale’s relentless midfield pressing. Yet again, a lack in concentration gifted the opposition a goal, which ultimately settled the contest.
In contrast, Rochdale were organised and moved the ball round well. They never gave Oldham a chance to settle on the ball, and would have been good value for three or four goals with more clinical finishing.
Mike says: “Rochdale did what they do well – organisation. The midfield trio of Lund, Camps and Andy Cannon were impressive and ran the game. Oldham only looked dangerous for 15 minutes after half time, and Rochdale dealt with it fairly easily.
“The difference between the sides was the workrate and effort. Rochdale never stopped pressing and running, and Oldham didn’t match that. Latics’ body language said it all after half time, they didn’t look like a team with any confidence.”
Who stood out?
Aside from captain Peter Clarke and keeper Ripley (again), no Oldham players deserve any credit. Cameron Dummigan and Ryan McLoughlin were busy on the right, but both were nowhere to be seen when it mattered to give Andrew the freedom of Spotland to pick out Lund for the Rochdale goal.
Players like Freddie Ladapo and Ryan Flynn were anonymous yet again, while Jamie Reckord and Cameron Burgess were bullied at the back. Too many sub-par performances only added to the frustrations of the noisy 1,995 away supporters who got behind their team from start to finish. Those supporters deserve better, and boos at half time and full time are completely justified following the passionless showing infront of them.
For Rochdale, Mike says: “The midfield three were all excellent for Dale, especially Andy Cannon who was full of effort and Keith Keane in defence didn’t put a foot wrong. Upfront, Calvin Andrew made the Oldham defence work all game.”
Oldham have a two-game break from League One, facing Doncaster in the FA Cup and Blackburn U23’s in the EFL Trophy. Stephen Robinson desperately needs to turn his side’s fortunes around, and quickly. Latics are too predictable, and far to easy to play against, but Robinson doesn’t appear able to turn things around. If he can’t manage a win in either of the next two fixtures, his position may be bordering on untenable.
Fans can take losing and inconsistency as long as the effort is there. In recent weeks though there has been no effort or desire, and 20 minute spells of half-hearted pressure every week is not good enough. Wins over Gillingham and leaders Scunthorpe suggests the quality in the team is there, which makes the consistently lacklustre performances every week even more frustrating, and it’s up to the manager to inspire better performances.
For Rochdale, away games against Maidstone and Hartlepool follow before a tough return to League One at Bradford. Mike says: “If Dale have recovered from their two game losing blip, they should be able to return to the form of the recent seven match winning run. Key defender Jim McNulty is back from injury now, so there’s more options in defence. In the long term, Dale are definitely capable of reaching the play-offs.”
Thanks again to Mike for offering his thoughts, and good luck to Rochdale for the rest of the season.