Wilkinson winner the lift Holden is seeking
OLDHAM caretaker manager Dean Holden admits he breathed a sigh of relief after Conor Wilkinson’s late goal piled the pressure on Crewe, who slipped into the League One drop zone.
In a largely dire affair at sun-soaked Gresty Road, substitute Wilkinson pounced with just 16 minutes to go.
Oldham had not been enjoying the best of form themselves, following Lee Johnson’s decision to join Barnsley a month ago, but his replacement Holden was delighted with his second victory as boss.
He said: “It’s been a really tough spell, and it’s not surprising that people outside the club have been questioning us.
“But this was a massive performance and a massive result for the lads. To get the clean sheet and the three points was terrific for the fans, who had travelled here in their numbers.
“Everyone to a man gave absolutely everything an as a manager, you can’t ask for any more than that.
“I was happy for young Joel Coleman too. He’s a young lad who came in for his debut – and to get a win and a clean sheet is something he’ll never forget.
“We’ve got to push on from this now. We’ve got a big derby game against Rochdale on Tuesday and there is still plenty to play for between now and the end of the season.”
There was plenty of effort in a goalless first half, but few clear-cut chances. Football League debutant Rhys Turner went close for Oldham early on, forcing a fine low save from Crewe’s veteran goalkeeper Paul Rachubka.
Skipper Harry Davis went closest at the other end as he saw a looping header nodded frantically off the line by Oldham captain Adam Lockwood.
Teenager Joel Coleman produced a superb finger-tip save to deny Anthony Grant, while Oldham went close when another debutant, Huddersfield loanee Anthony Gerrard, flicked a header inches wide.
But Bolton loanee Wilkinson struck late on, side-footing home after being teed up neatly by Danny Philliskirk.
It was a sixth loss in eight games that sent the Railwaymen back into the bottom four.
Boss Steve Davis said: “We’ve got to defend better in situations like we found ourselves in for the goal.
“We can’t be giving an opposition striker so much space in and around our six-yard box.
“We’re in a battle – we know that – and we’re getting drawn into the scrap at the bottom again.
“That’s a worry of course, but it’s still very tight down at the bottom and there are still eight games to go.
“We’ve got enough quality in the squad.”
STAR MAN ANTHONY GERRARD Oldham