Chesterfield slumped to an embarrassing defeat at John Sheridan’s previous club, the result seeing them slip to the foot of the table.
Robbie Simpson’s hat-trick, his first for four years, hit the headlines. But Paul Dickov’s men won’t have an easier task again this season as the visitors capitulated in a way that, even allowing for their recent appalling form, was somewhat unexpected.
Even before the kick-off, there were reasons to worry. Chesterfield’s team sheet was produced with six loan players included in the squad. The maximum is five. So Lee Johnson had to be taken from the subs’ bench and, whilst initially is was thought that Simon Ford had replaced him, the visitors went to battle with one sub short.
The trouncing started early. There was a clear Oldham handball on the edge of the Chesterfield box and the referee was set to blow for a free-kick. But the ball fell to Dwayne Mattis, restored to the centre of midfield, so advantage was played. He looked to pass it to Alex Mendy but the ball was underhit and Kieran Lee intercepted.
The full-back, signed for the Latics from Manchester United by Sheridan, who received a fantastic welcome from the home fans, took a couple of steps forward before unleashing a powerful 25 yarder beyond Ole Soderberg with less than three minutes played.
Chesterfield were soon two behind, Manchester City loanee Luca Scapuzzi and left-back Paul Black combined well to slip by Tope Obadeyi and Drew Talbot and Black cut the ball back for Simpson to hit home from a spacious location on the edge of the six.
On a ground that had seen the Spireites win just once in 26 previous league visits, that created a huge mountain to overcome, but worse was to come before the ruthlessness of the opening had fully sunk in.
Former Latic Mark Allott was booked for a foul on Simpson and that free-kick manoeuvre led to another one time Oldham man Neal Trotman upending Scapuzzi on the edge of the box. Simpson stepped up to take the free-kick and delivered it perfectly into the top corner.
Obadeyi had a couple of decent efforts as Chesterfield looked to come to terms with their dreadful start and they did manage to pull one back when Craig Westcarr headed in Talbot’s excellent cross.
But the hope of a miraculous comeback lasted only three minutes as Oldham restored their three-goal lead with a goal that neither Jonathan Grounds nor Soderberg will ever want to see again.
The Spireites were pressing forwards but Oldham’s midfield were terrier like and the visitors were forced to pass every ball backwards. It eventually came to Grounds and he back-passed, but far too weakly. The keeper ran out with Simpson in pursuit of the ball and he half-heartedly jumped into the challenge which saw the Oldham man come out on top and slot the ball into the empty net to earn the match ball.
Early in the second half, Sheridan introduced Jordan Bowery into the action. It had been a major surprise that he’d been left out having scored five goals in the last three games. His manager acknowledged it as an error after the game.
But it was to be Oldham that notched the next goal to sink the Spireites. Simpson turned provider, launching a long-range free-kick following a Nathan Smith foul right onto the head of Shefki Kuqi for the ex Owls man’s 12th goal of the season.
Chesterfield’s 350 travelling fans gave a great show. None of them threw the towel in, prompting Sheridan to say he’s look at setting up some sort of fund from the players to get them their money back.
They did witness another Chesterfield goal, three minutes from time. Obadeyi made ground on the left and crossed in for Clarke, another one-time Oldham man, to slide home his ninth of the season.
Just two points collected from the last 27 available has seen Chesterfield slip right down the table ahead of next week’s local derby at home to Sheffield United.
Sheridan fumed: “That was very poor. I’ll be embarrassed to watch that back. I’m embarrassed for the supporters.”
There’s no hint his job is in jeopardy, but the results need to pick up if that’s to remain the case for the man who led the Spireites to the League Two title last season.