Johnson’s Latics are ‘fighting’ up table
LEE JOHNSON admitted his Oldham side had to fight to earn a crucial victory over Gillingham which moved the Latics five points clear of the relegation zone.
Gary Harkins’ third goal of the season just after the half-hour mark clinched an even game for the hosts to secure their first home win in three attempts.
Despite the introduction of 20-goal pair Cody McDonald and Adebayo Akinfenwa, the hosts held on for a result which left Johnson delighted with his side’s spirit.
“It was a very tough game,” he said.
“It was a tight, tense one and the lads knew how important it was.
“I thought it was a scrappy, edgy game but both sides had quite good chances.
“We wanted the win so much but sometimes you have to graft them out to earn your two or three-nils.
“I want to play really nice football but it was an important win when you look at the results, you know the others down there are going to pick up wins.
“For at least a couple of games we can look above us and go for the midway point.”
After substitute Myles Weston had missed a good chance for the visitors, an even first-half swung Oldham’s way when Harkins lashed in his third of the season from a tight angle.
David Worrall squandered a great chance to double the lead and Jon Stead cracked a low shot against the post, before Gills striker Joe Pigott fired a shot into the side netting.
Akinfenwa headed over from close range and forced a stunning save from Mark Oxley but they could not find a way through, leaving Peter Taylor in disbelief at the result.
“I can't believe we haven't won the game,” he said.
“We had a lot more chances than the opposition but I don't think we had much luck in front of goal.
“I wanted fresh legs out there and the way we played in the first half justified that. That's why we made six changes.
“It's the squad that will keep us in this division and that's the thinking behind today.We need healthy competition.
“Their keeper made some wonderful saves and was the difference between the sides.
“Our finishing let us down in the first half.
“But it was good in the second half and we couldn’t get the ball past him no matter how hard we tried to.
“He relieved a lot of pressure that we were trying to build on the Oldham defence.
“Stuart Nelson had nothing like the same amount of work to do.”
STAR MAN GARY HARKIN