REPORT: Oldham Athletic 0 Stevenage 1
Boro make it seven points from three games as Lucas Akins’ penalty downs Oldham
Oldham Athletic 0 Stevenage 1
npower League 1
Lucas Akins made it two goals from two starts as he scored the only goal of the game from the penalty spot at Boundary Park.
The ex-Tranmere Rovers winger has had a fine start for his new club and his side-footed effort in the first half, which sent Oldham goalkeeper Alex Cisak the wrong way, was the highlight of a match that rarely got the fans on the edge of their seats.
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That might be of concern to Stevenage manager Gary Smith who does want his side to play football that is both successful and is pleasing on the eye, and he has brought in players specifically for that purpose, but results suggest that even when games are bogged down his men are doing the right things in the right areas of the pitch.
Smith’s newly assembled side have hit the ground running in League 1, though a sterner test comes this Tuesday evening at home to Southampton in the Capital One Cup.
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Against Oldham Akins started on the right of midfield with ex-Latics winger Filipe Morais on the left and Luke Freeman just off the front man, Marcus Haber.
It was the striker who was brought down in the penalty area by Cisak after he had shaken off his marker and had tried to dribble the ball around the onrushing Oldham goalkeeper.
The game had been short of incident before the goal, but Boro taking the lead forced Oldham to act and within a minute Chris Day had to save from Cristian Montano while Robbie Simpson headed straight at the goalkeeper.
The second half was blighted by awful conditions as a heavy downpour which lasted much of the half soaked the players through.
Yet despite the weather there was more goalmouth incident as Darius Charles fired just wide from close range after the break while Oldham substitute Matt Smith blazed over the bar from the edge of the Stevenage box.
Boro’s defence was, as usual, strong, but they were helped by a dogged performance from Anthony Grant.
The ex-Southend man, signed in the summer, marshalled the back line all afternoon and when he wasn’t chasing down Oldham players and winning the ball back in midfield he was throwing his body in front of the ball on the edge of his own box.
Luke Freeman forced Cisak into a fine save late on while, for Oldham, Dean Furman saw his shot blocked by a defending Haber.
It was a hard-earned three points for Stevenage, who also gave a debut to Leeds United loanee Robbie Rogers, against a team that is likely to struggle in League 1 this season, but it was two points more than Boro picked up on the road at Boundary Park last season against a, perhaps, stronger outfit.
Smith will be pleased with how his team has settled, there is no question about it, although there is a need to support Haber with another striker as the options to replace him from the bench continue to be thin.
Oldham (4-5-1): Cisak 6, Byrne 6, Grounds 5, M’Voto 7, Tarkowski 6 (Brown 55, 5), Croft 5, Montano 6 (Hughes 63, 6), Furman 7, M’Changama 6, Winchester 5 (Smith 46), Simpson 6. Subs: Bouzanis, Taylor, Millar, Mellor.
Stevenage (4-2-3-1): Day 6, Gray 6, Charles 6, Roberts 6, Ashton 7, Grant 7, Dunne 6, Freeman 6 (Tansey 73), Morais 5 (Rogers 79), Akins 7, Haber 5. Subs: Arnold, Ball, N’Gala, Shroot, Thalassitis.
Att: 3142 (111)