"The ever-green Pine!"
Our ability to get results from games involving North-West clubs has another test this week with a visit to Boundary Park, and three points from this one would certainly put us in the chasing pack for a promotion place. The Latics stuttered and spluttered at the start of the season, but much-improved recent performances have seen them rise to 15th place, only a point behind us. Australian Harry Kewell is their current manager - he’s the latest in a rapid merry-go-round in that role … in the past 2 years Oldham have tried 7 managers (Paul Scholes lasted 31 days!!). There are no ex-Saddlers in their current playing squad, but previous examples include the following:-
John Kelly (1989-91) Signed from Oldham, went on to Huddersfield Town
Neil Tolson (1991-92) Started with us, moved to Oldham
Darren Byfield (2009-11, 2nd spell) Signed from Oldham, went on to Solihull Moors
Peter Skipper (1989-91) Signed from Oldham, went on to Wrexham
Anthony Gerrard (2005-09) Signed from Everton, thence to Cardiff City, and Oldham (2016-18)
Latics’ current League 2 form goes like this:-
November 14th Scunthorpe United (H) Lost 0-2
November 21st Exeter City (A) Won 1-2
November 24th Barrow (A) Won 3-4
December 1st Tranmere Rovers (H) Lost 0-1
December 5th Cambridge United (A) Won 1-2
December 12th Bradford City (H) Won 3-1
Is it too much to hope that Darrell Clarke will announce a hat-trick of unchanged teamsheets for this one? The old adage does say that you should never change a winning team, and one definite benefit seen in the last 2 games has been the absence of “gift goals”. What might also be significant is the possibility that in Jack Rose the defence is operating with a greater degree of confidence. Each game that goes by also sees Josh Gordon’s fitness improving, and it should be noted that against Bolton Wanderers we had no need to call on the skills of Guthrie - we seem to be “gelling”…
Prediction? Even though Oldham are 4 places below us in the League 2 table, they’ve scored 7 more goals than we have (but managed to concede 11 more than us) - so it looks as though a goal-less draw is highly unlikely. If we can maintain the reluctance to give goals away, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t come away with 3 points. Go for a 0-1 scoreline, with another Rory Holden rocket!