SHEFFIELD Wednesday refused to be deterred by an Oldham fightback last night and showed tenacity of their own to clinch a deserved victory.
The Owls led 2-0 through early goals from Mark Beevers and Chris Sedgwick.
Oldham, who had failed to score in their previous six games, equalised before half-time thanks to a deflected shot and a stunning strike.
But another Sedgwick goal early in the second half sent the Owls on the way to a second successive away win and rewarded them for a workmanlike performance.
It was also a tonic after last Saturday’s home defeat by Plymouth.
Gary Megson made two changes to the line-up that started that game.
Michael Morrison returned to the fold at right-back and James O’Connor came back in midfield as the manager left out Richard Hinds and Liam Palmer.
Daniel Jones and Neil Mellor, both left out of last Saturday’s 18, were on the bench but there was no follow-up appearance for Giles Coke, who went on as a sub and scored against the Pilgrims.
Oldham had centre-half and captain Reuben Hazell back after a four-match absence and went into the contest in 11th place and believing that they still had a chance of the play-offs.
Wednesday challenged the home team’s optimism by flying out of the blocks to race into the lead.
A surging run by Tommy Spurr brought a free-kick on the left which was taken by Gary Teale and flicked away for a corner on the opposite flank.
The corner was taken short, Teale crossed, and Beevers leapt to direct a downward header into the middle of the net from around six yards.
Oldham were stung into putting together some possession but the Owls stayed solid and hit them with a second goal in the 13th minute.
Hazell, under pressure from Madine in the right-back position, made a mess of defending and the striker slid a neat pass to the overlapping Teale, whose cross was bundled into net at the far post by Sedgwick.
It was the 10th goal that the Latics had conceded in their last three matches.
Megson was conspicuous by his absence from the technical area, with coach Neil Thompson standing there, but the manager appeared briefly after Madine went down injured.
The centre-forward was able to walk off, slowly, and was replaced by Clinton Morrison, in the 18th minute.
Morrison too was soon in the wars but was able to carry on and inadvertently played a big part in Oldham’s first goal in seven games.
A low shot from 25 yards by forward Filipe Morais in the 22nd minute was covered by Nicky Weaver but took a big deflection off the sub and wrong-footed the keeper, with the ball bouncing just inside his left-hand post.
The Owls looked dangerous on the break at times, down the left through the Spurr-Teale partnership, but Oldham had little spells of pressure and created a chance with a right-wing cross, which was headed yards wide by striker Oumare Tounkara.
Wednesday still looked fairly comfortable and likely to hold a lead at half-time, but no sooner had the board gone up to show two minutes of added time than they were rocked by an equaliser.
Morais cut inside from the right and squared the ball for midfield man Dale Stephens, who had no-one near him as he lashed a right-foot shot into Weaver’s top right-hand corner from 25 yards.
It was another goal that would lead Megson scrutinising his team’s defending.
But the mood was improved by another goal in the 52nd minute.
After a fine run and cross from Spurr, the ball was headed on by Johnson to the far post where Sedgwick nodded it home.
Once again the Owls looked well set.
They continued to show spirit and endeavour and prevented Oldham from getting anywhere near Weaver’s goal.
Then it could have been 4-2 in the 64th minute. Sedgwick deliver a lovely cross to the near post where Michael Morrison jumped and glanced his header across goal.
Clinton Morrison sent Sedgwick clear down the right with an excellent ball to help carve out what looked like being another opportunity; but as the midfield man calmly tried to pick out O’Connor to his left the ball struck a defender and bounced to the keeper.
It could have been a let-off for the Owls when Stephens slammed a ferocious volley from 25 yards which had Weaver flying through the air. It was impossible to tell whether the ball would have found the net had it not hit Tounkara and been deflected for a goal kick.
Good football from Wednesday ended with Clinton Morrison, under pressure from defenders, driving a shot on the turn at the keeper as he fell.
Oldham had posed practically no threat in this half but they should have scored in the 77th minute. Right-back Kieran Lee got away from Teale to get on the end of a diagonal ball into the box and he side-footed a volley past Weaver’s left-hand post.
The final whistle was the cue for another salute from the players to splendid away support.
LATICS: Amos 7; Lee 6, Trotman 7, Hazell 7, Black 6; White 6 (Alessandra 76), Stephens 7, Jones 6, Taylor 6 (Reid 84); Morais 7; Tounkara 6. Unused subs: Brill, Todd, Reid, Mantom, Feeney, Evina.
OWLS: Weaver 7; M Morrison 7, R Johnson 7, Beevers 7, Spurr 7; Sedgwick 8, Osbourne 7 (Potter 85), O’Connor 7, Miller 7, Teale 7; Madine (C Morrison 18, 7). Unused subs: O’Donnell, Heffernan, J Johnson, Jones, Mellor.
Goals: Beevers (3), Sedgwick (13, 52), Morais (22), Stephens (45+1).
Referee: Eddie Ilderton (Tyne and Wear).
Bookings: Sedgwick (61) foul, O’Connor (70) kicking ball away, Tounkara (88) foul, Reid (90+1) handball, Lee (90+3) foul.
Attendance: 4,133 (1,382 away).