Match and Player Review – Millwall (H), 25/02/17

In a series of ongoing match and player reviews, Trust Oldham are delighted to team up with our guest contributor Joe Bray (@_joebray on Twitter, oafc-latics on owtb.co.uk). He posts a full match report on his blog https://joeoafc.wordpress.com with a concise version only available here.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen an ending to a game like this one, and I’ve not celebrated a draw like that since Matt Smith equalised against Everton in the cup back in 2013. Connor Ripley was the hero this time, saving two Lee Gregory penalties in the 89th and 94th minute to secure a point for Latics after what was a pretty poor game against Millwall.

For a detailed match report, including the views of a Millwall fan, and a look at whether Peter Clarke or Connor Ripley will win the Player of the Season award, check out my Post Match Verdict https://joeoafc.wordpress.com/2017/02/26/oldham-0-0-millwall-post-match-verdict/.

It looked like Millwall came to defend, and sneak a late goal – and they nearly got it. It was a tough afternoon for Latics strikers Tope Obadeyi and Aaron Holloway who got little change from the visiting defence.

That made it tough for the midfield to create chances, with Ollie Banks resorting to long shots as he led the push for a winner. Chris Taylor was often the target for attacks, but aside from a couple of teasing crosses – one of which Paul Green should have converted – Taylor was pretty disappointing.

Fred Onyedinma’s introduction for Millwall made them more of a threat, but Peter Clarke was his usual reliable-self when he cleared the substitute’s shot off the line. Clarke was solid at the back again, alongside Brian Wilson who seems to perform every week in whatever position he’s played in.
John Sheridan said after the game that the first 75 minutes were the best Latics have played since he arrived. I’m not sure about that, because the team only created 3 or 4 chances, but you can’t argue with a fourth game unbeaten and another clean sheet against a good Millwall side.

That clean sheet was tested in the final stages though. A clumsy tackle by Chris Taylor gave Lee Gregory the chance to nick a late win for Millwall from the spot. I didn’t think he looked that confident as he stepped up, and his penalty was poor giving Ripley the chance to save.

I thought Ripley had had a poor game even if he hadn’t conceded, and was being taunted by the Millwall fans all game. If his first save redeemed a shaky performance, a second save four minutes later gave him the Man of the Match award.

Ripley dived the other way to save Gregory’s second effort as the final whistle blew, and was mobbed by his teammates as he started a lap of honour around Boundary Park. Defeat would have been harsh on Latics, and a draw was probably fair. But after Ripley’s saves, it felt like a victory.

Latics are still in trouble – we’re only two points ahead of Port Vale who have two games in hand – but the players are fighting to stay up and that’s all we ask for.

LATICS PLAYER RATINGS (OUT OF 10):

Connor Ripley – 8 – Man of the Match
Ripley was having a poor game, he missed a cross when Harry Smith nodded against the post, and his distribution was pretty poor. But two crucial penalty saves secured the point for Latics, and he showed his importance to this team. 14 clean sheets for the season is seriously impressive in this side.

Ryan McLaughlin – 7
Another game, another position for McLaughlin. Deputising at right back, McLaughlin supported the attack but also held his own against Millwall’s busy midfield.

Brian Wilson – 7
Filling in at centre back due to Anthony Gerrard’s suspension, Wilson barely put a foot wrong… again.

Peter Clarke – 7
It’s no surprise that Clarke was the one clearing Fred Onyedinma’s shot off the line. He led by example again, and if Latics survive, he’ll have been one of the main factors.

Rob Hunt – 7
Grew into the game, and tracked back well to make some important interceptions.

Paul Green – 6
Green is pretty wasted on the right, but he does track back well. Should have done better with a first half header that just needed knocking into the net.

Aiden O’Neill – 6
Not one of his best performances for Latics, but still got involved and did the dirty work in midfield, allowing Banks to dictate play. Silly booking before he was substituted.

Ollie Banks – 8
Most Latics moves went through Banks, who won the midfield battle. Would have been Man of the Match but for Ripley’s late saves.

Chris Taylor – 5
Taylor was getting grief from Millwall’s fans all game, and apart from a few crosses didn’t look to get involved in play. He shows flashes of his quality, but needs to replicate that over a whole game. His performance was summed up by a stupid late tackle on Gregory to concede a penalty.

Tope Obadeyi – 6
Slow start, but had two of Latics’ best chances as he ran the the Millwall defence and shot wide. Could be a useful player.

Aaron Holloway – 5
Felt aggrieved all game, but in reality Byron Webster just won their battle every time. He needs to use his size much better, because when he does hold the ball up, he is effective.

Ryan Flynn (sub) – 6
Couldn’t make much of an impact on the poor pitch, but showed plenty of effort.

Ousmane Fane (sub) – 6
Didn’t have much time to make an impact.

Michael Ngoo (sub) – 4
Like Fane, shouldn’t have had much time to make an impact, but stupidly blocked a late freekick with his hands to concede the second penalty.

Manager – John Sheridan – 6
A point against Millwall shouldn’t be sniffed at, and was honest post-match in saying that the final stages weren’t good enough. But Latics have 17 points from 30 since his return and are unbeaten in four games.

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