REPORT: Stevenage 3 Oldham Athletic 4
- Credit: Archant
Late penalty drama in seven-goal thriller
Stevenage 3 Oldham Athletic 4
Sky Bet League 1
The fact that this was a humdinger of a match featuring seven goals, two penalties and 12 yellow cards will be of no consolation to a Stevenage side that failed to put their opening day hoodoo behind them.
It is now eight years since a Boro side last won on the opening weekend of the season – a 3-0 victory over Altrincham in 2005 – but after clawing their way back from 3-1 down to make it 3-3 here the fans may have hoped that this was going to be the day they put a halt to that record.
However, a penalty decision which at first viewing seemed harsh on Darius Charles, whom it was given against, allowed the Latics to score the winner three minutes from time.
With Dani Lopez suspended Charles started up front alongside Oumare Tounkara, one of four debutants for Boro including Sam Wedgbury, Luke Jones and Simon Heslop.
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Oldham had the better of the opening period with Adam Rooney, signed on Thursday after a trial with the club, flicking a header off target and Cristian Montano fizzing a shot just wide of Chris Day’s right-hand post.
Boro were forced into making a change on 14 minutes when Lee Hills, already on a yellow card, received a further warning from referee Darren Sheldrake for another foul before being replaced by Filipe Morais.
The substitute then set up Greg Tansey who curled his shot straight at Mark Oxley in the Oldham goal, before for the visitors James Drayton tried his luck from distance only to fire over Day’s bar.
Oldham thought they had scored on 38 minutes when Baxter sent a free-kick deep into the box and James Tarkowski rose to head past Day. The Oldham players began to celebrate, but the centre-back was penalised for a foul on the goalkeeper.
Stevenage’s lead was started and finished by Charles. The 25-year-old took a corner, and after the ball had been played across field the same player, now in the box, set up Jones who headed against the post before Charles finished the move by firing in off the underside of the bar.
The equaliser came just after the break, Tarkowski converting a cross from the right, before Wedgbury was then adjudged to have brought down Charlie MacDonald in the box and from the spot Baxter followed up Day’s initial save to put his side ahead.
Oldham’s third came from a mix-up between Luke Freeman, the corner taker, and Tansey, who was stood on the edge of the box ready to strike the pass towards goal. The pass didn’t reach him, however, and Montano stole the ball before racing from the edge of his own area to beat Day for 3-1 with 20 minutes to go.
Tounkara set up Tansey for Boro’s second after nipping in behind the defence and pulling the ball back to the midfielder before Baxter tested Day with a free-kick, which Boro’s goalkeeper tipped over.
The equaliser came with six minutes remaining. Oldham had given away a free-kick near the left touchline when substitute Jonson Clarke-Harris had impeded a Charles throw-in. Tansey took the kick, and when the Oldham line pushed up Morais had stayed behind to take a touch, roll the ball from under his feet and score.
Yet the cruellest of blows came with three minutes to go when the referee gave a penalty against Charles, who had blocked a shot by MacDonald only for the ball, he says, to bounce off his leg and onto his upper arm.
The referee turned away the protests, and Baxter scored from the spot to ensure victory for his side.
Next up for Stevenage are Ipswich Town who come to town on Tuesday evening in the Capital One Cup.
Stevenage (4-4-2): Day 6; Wedgbury 6, Hills (Morais 14, 7), Ashton 6, Jones 6 (Shroot 68, 6); Akins 6 (Haber 59, 6), Freeman 6, Tansey 7, Heslop 6; Tounkara 6, Charles 7. Subs: Arnold, Burrow, N’Guessan, Deacon.
Oldham (4-3-1-2): Oxley 6; Brown 6, Grounds 6, Tarkowski 6, Mellor 6 (Byrne 90); Smith 6, Montano 7, Dayton 7 (Schmeltz 75); Baxter 7; MacDonald 7, Rooney 6 (Clarke-Harris 75). Subs: Simpson, Wesolowski, Millar, Rodgers.
Ref: D Sheldrake