Oldham fan Joe Bray (@) gives us the lowdown on tomorrow night’s opponents and offers some reasoning behind their slow start to the season.
Steve Robinson took over the managerial reigns in the summer from John Sheridan who exited for Notts County. First of all, how disappointing was it to see Sheridan leave having kept the club in the league and secondly how is Robinson doing in his first managerial role?
Sheridan is a club legend and he exceeded expectations by rescuing us last season when we seemed dead and buried. He knows the club inside out, so if he’d stayed I think we’d have been pushing for the play-offs this season with everyone behind him. If a League Two side is a better offer than that, it doesn’t say much about the ambition of the club. It was frustrating to see them let him leave at the first offer without a fight.
Steve Robinson was appointed after a very long search and he has good credentials after spending the summer as Northern Ireland assistant at the Euros. He’s better than the last few rookie managers we’ve appointed, but he’s still working out his best tactics and results need to improve quickly before we’re faced with the same situation as last year.
Robinson had just five players on the books when he arrived in July, with plenty of players leaving the club. Have you replaced those that left and is the squad in a better shape than last season?
Most of the players that left were the ones that got us in the relegation zone in the first place last season, so although some were decent players it wasn’t too upsetting to see them leave. We’ve replaced Anthony Gerrard’s leadership at the back with Peter Clarke, but other than that there’s no real difference in quality.
We’re just lacking a goalscorer this season which is our main problem – I’d have liked to have kept Curtis Main, who scored some important goals to keep us up at the expense of his parent club Doncaster.
Oldham are struggling at the wrong end of the table and are struggling to score goals, with your top scorer being centre back Peter Clarke. Are you creating chances, or is it a case of a lack of creativity?
It’s a lack of creativity and bad decision-making when we do get in attacking positions. Robinson wants us to build from a solid defence, which is fine, but that’s just resulted in careful, defensive football. We’ve got the players to attack on paper, but it’s very predictable and slow whenever we try and go past the halfway line at the moment.
Your gaffer said you more than matched Bolton at the weekend despite falling to a 2-0 defeat. Do you think it is a case of fine lines at the moment and have you got enough to beat the drop?
I’m not sure I’d agree with him there. We had a couple of good spells in both halves against Bolton, but they picked us off easily and we never really looked like scoring. If we’d taken a good chance to equalise though, it could have been a different story in front of a noisy away support.
There are definitely fine lines involved and I’m sure we can kick on as soon as we stop making silly mistakes at both ends. We’ve signed 20 new players so it was always going to be a season for Robinson to build his team, we just need to stay in touch with midtable teams before a gap forms. Saying that, Rochdale were bottom a month ago and are 4th now after six straight wins – if we can start scoring goals and put a run together, we’ll be fine.
What kind of match can we expect at Boundary Park?
Our home form is terrible and Scunthorpe look good this season, so I can only see it going one way. I expect Latics to come out of both halves strongly, but Scunthorpe will soak it up and wait for us to make a mistake. After that, you should be able to see the game out. We’ve failed to score in five out of six home league games, and lost the last two by 2-0, so I’m not hopeful of a result for Oldham.
Which player or players should Iron fans be looking out for in the Oldham side?
I’ve mentioned captain Peter Clarke, who very rarely lets anything get past him. He reads the game so well and is carrying both our attack and defence at the moment. Behind him, keeper Connor Ripley has kept us in a lot of games with some seriously good saves. He’s on loan from Middlesbrough and definitely has the potential to be a top goalkeeper.
When Ryan Flynn and Carl Winchester are on form, they can be unplayable in attacking midfield. We’ve been at our best when Flynn’s turned up, but he can often go missing. Ousmane Fane from Kidderminster looks promising in defensive midfield, but he’s a walking yellow card. You don’t really need to worry about any of our strikers.
Are there any weak links the Iron could exploit?
If you’ve got pace and movement in attack, you’ll force a mistake from our defence. In recent games, we’ve been poor at defending set pieces too, despite starting the season quite well in that respect.
Where will the game be won or lost and have you got a prediction?
I think if Scunthorpe play as they have been doing recently, they look like they’ve got enough to mix it up and control the game. My heart says Oldham can pull off an unlikely result against all the odds, but my head says another 2-0 defeat. I’d take a draw in a heartbeat.