Johnson bemoans ‘stonewall’ spot-kick
OLDHAM Athletic failed to build on their frenetic start to the league campaign but manager Lee Johnson believed his side were denied a ‘stonewall’ penalty.
Walsall earned a smash-and-grab victory to end their six-year wait for three points at Boundary Park after winger James Baxendale scored the only goal.
Johnson admitted his players lacked a certain spark, but he was left perplexed after confronting referee Gary Sutton on the spot-kick claim.
“All the managers are on a course, which shows all the differentiations between handball,” he said.
“That handball in the first-half was an absolute stonewall banker.
“You come in and ask the referee after and he says,‘well, yeah maybe’.
“And you think, ‘thanks, mate’, but it is not an easy job – we are going to get some but not others.
“I was disappointed with the first-half, because we lacked energy and that bit of fizz.
“Drawing a blank at home is disappointing. We know Walsall are a good side, but they didn’t have too many shots.
“In the second-half, we were the only team to pound the goal.”
Oldham strongly appealed for a penalty in the 17th minute after Cristian Montano’s shot looked to strike an arm, before Richard O’Donnell saved with his legs.
Baxendale rifled the Saddlers into the lead on 25 minutes following James Chambers’ overlapping run and low cross from the right-wing.
The Latics aimed to level the scores after the half-hour mark as Adam Rooney struck Connor Brown’s cross with added power, but the drive flew wide.
Johnson introduced Sidney Schmeltz in the second-half and the Dutchman looked for a dream start in the league but lashed over. Walsall substitute Romaine Sawyers looked to seal the win after pouncing on Cliff Byrne, but the 21-yearold struck his effort tamely into the goalkeeper’s hands.
Saddlers boss Dean Smith conceded his players were rather below-par, but applauded the defensive solidarity and James Chambers in particular.
“To come through three games with three wins is a fantastic achievement for the players, but we are nowhere near where we want to be yet,” he added.
“We have got to be better on the ball, but off the ball we made it very difficult for Oldham.
“I can’t remember them having too many clear-cut chances and that is credit to the whole team defensively. I’m delighted.”