We arrived in Oldham to glorious sunshine, not the freezing cold
There was nothing for either set of fans to get excited about during the game. It was quite scrappy at times but Oldham had the majority of the first half chances.
The first half was very reminiscent of the first 45 minutes of the Bristol City game last weekend. A pretty dull affair, well punctuated by freekicks given by the Preston official, Graham Salisbury – who was also the referee when Notts began their ‘Great Escape’ campaign a year ago next Tuesday with a 1-1 home draw against Colchester United (hopefully an omen of things to come!).
Oldham were forced to make an early change to their side with Danny Bushell coming off injured to be replaced by David Beharall.
Oldham went very close to opening the scoring at boundary Park after 25 minutes. The Latics had a corner, which eventually beat Notts keeper Steve Mildenhall, but Darren Caskey was back on the goal line to clear the ball to safety.
3 minutes later the Notts fans and players thought they had taken the lead when Nick Fenton’s header flew into the back of the net
Oldham restricted Notts to very few scoring chances during the rest of the first half. Notts became very frustrating to watch as time went on in the first half as numerous passes found their way to Athletic. Hoofing the ball up the field became very predictable after a while and when ever Mildenhall had the ball it was kicked straight up the pitch only to be met by an Oldham player who, 9 times out of 10, sent it straight back again.
The Latics continued to have the majority of the chances, with Mildy having to make some important saves and claims at the feet of Oldham players.
I must just mention before we go into the second half the 2 events that lightened up the first 45 minutes. Firstly Mildenhall having to ask a steward to move the Oldham mascot, ‘Chaddy the Owl’ from behind his goal to the cheers of the Notts fans behind him. Then, later on, the game had to be stopped while they fixed the goal net after the 6ft 5 frame of Mildenhall fell on it. True to form the home team hadn’t got any new clips for the goal so Roger Cleary had to use his trusty sticky tape to patch up the goal.
HALF TIME: 1-0
Notts had a chance shortly after the break but Richard Liburd was deemed to be offside following a pass from Caskey.
On 63 minutes Michael Brough was taken off and replaced by youngster Willis Francis, who went close to scoring for the Magpies later in the game.
Fenton went close again for Notts before Dearden added more firepower up front bringing on Tony Hackworth for Paul Bolland.
Notts got their equaliser with 5 minutes remaining. A free kick was awarded to Notts on the Oldham left-hand side of the penalty area. It was taken by Darren Caskey and found the head on Paul Heffernan just outside the 6-yard box. The home goalkeeper parried Heff’s header but the Irish striker kept his nerve and fired home the rebound to the delight of the Notts fans.
Both sides could have won it right at the death. First Caskey went close but Pogliacomi was able to tip the ball over the bar. Then Steve Mildenhall saved Notts’ blushes in the final seconds by coming out on top after a goalmouth scramble in which Oldham could have easily snatched the 3 points.