Hayley Paterson’s match report: Doncaster Rovers 0 Oldham Athletic 2

Reece Wabara fires wide for Rovers.
Reece Wabara fires wide for Rovers.
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As reunions go, this certainly wasn’t one for Paul Dickov’s scrapbook.

For the former Oldham boss watched his Rovers side put in as flat a performance as the punch would’ve been at a school reunion come midnight.

A 2-0 defeat to the Latics on Saturday saw Rovers head into a two-week international break nursing a winless three-game home run this season.

The fortnight’s break could be a good thing.

It could provide time for the Doncaster players to take stock and really think about the weekend’s jaded performance.

It gives time for injured striker Curtis Main to continue his return and the likes of Rob Jones and Jamie McCombe can also fully recover from last season’s lengthy aches and pains.

But the break could also be something not to look forward to - particularly for the players.

Dickov threatened a punishing ‘mini pre-season’ if the result and performance wasn’t there against Oldham and that is what the players will get.

Regardless of Saturday’s scoreline, Rovers would’ve arguably been in for a gruelling training schedule because they’re striving to compete without the luxury of a big budget or squad.

But having enjoyed a strong run of results, including a Championship scalp of Watford, the reunion party was spoiled for the hosts as Oldham’s Jonson Clarke-Harris ghosted in from a Mike Jones free-kick to bundle home just four minutes in.

Add to that a menacing performance and a 59th minute penalty from Jonathan Forte against his old loan club and Rovers were done before they’d even really begun.

There could’ve been more goals from Oldham too, particularly in the second half.

But Lee Johnson’s men were as guilty of missing as many good chances after the restart as Rovers were in the first half.

Reece Wabara, Kyle Bennett, Paul Keegan and Dean Furman all created solid efforts for themselves but just one out of the four strikes managed to test Latics ‘keeper Paul Rachubka during the opening 45 minutes.

What Rovers struggled to cope with was that Johnson’s Oldham lined up with purpose.

They boasted a good shape at the back which frustrated the home side, none more so than Nathan Tyson who didn’t have a chance to talk about as he looked to continue his rich vein of goalscoring form.

Dickov blasted referee James Linington after the game for decisions that ultimately went against them - especially Luke McCullough’s challenge on Danny Philliskirk in the area which brought about Athletic’s second half penalty.

The Scotsman also felt Doncaster should’ve had a penalty of their own when Tyson went tumbling over in the first half.

But nothing was doing and that’s the reality of life in League One - it’s an unforgiving division.

The overall difference was, Oldham had more energy than the home side.

They looked hungry to claim their first win of the season and they did that by bursting out of the blocks from the off.

And as Clarke-Harris tapped in an early set-piece Rovers were rocked and Oldham rallied.

The impressive Forte stung the palms of Jed Steer who expertly tipped over the forward’s effort from range as Johnson’s troops tried in vain to double their advantage.

The best spell for Doncaster came 20 minutes in.

They retained the ball well and created chances.

Marc De Val was at the heart of the action, feeding in searching balls and dictating the play from the middle.

However, Wabara, Furman and Bennett will all feel they should’ve done better with their chances - at the very least they should have tested the goalkeeper.

But the signs did look promising.

The game ultimately came down to who was prepared to take the game by the scruff of the neck.

That answer was Oldham.

The Lancashire side struck at a time when the Keepmoat was still revelling in the introduction of talismanic midfielder Richie Wellens.

He came on as part of a triple substitution alongside Harry Forrester and Theo Robinson as Furman, Bennett and De Val made way just before the hour mark.

Rovers fans could not have asked for more ammo as they looked to restore parity.

But seconds later, disaster struck.

A McCullough challenge in the box was punished by the man in the middle and there was only one man to take the spot-kick - Forte.

The energetic forward, who had two loans spells with Doncaster, made no mistake as he coolly slotted in the penalty to Steer’s left as the Aston Villa loanee dived to the right to give Oldham a 2-0 lead in the 59th minute.

There was no going back for Rovers after that.

A flat performance was cut short with half an hour to go and if anyone was to burst the net, Oldham looked the more likely.

Chances came for the visitors which they failed to convert, especially from Forte who was clean through but found the feet of a last-ditch tackle from Jones to clear off the line.

And with seven minutes added time, the expectant rush from the crowd and the Doncaster players to give the game one last go simply never came as Athletic grasped their first win of the season with both hands.