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The frustration it renders me hateful

When the fixtures came out last summer, one game in particular jumped out at me. “YIIRRRSS WE’RE GONNA WIN THE LEAGUE AT HOME AGAINST ROCHDALE 3 DAYS AFTER ME BIRTHDAY!” What a very, very long time ago that seems now.

It was another somewhat puzzling starting line up last Saturday. Sutton, who’s a centre half, was once again at right-back; McGahey, who is also a centre half, was playing in midfield; and Dallas, who’s a centre forward, was playing on the wing. But we can’t play Sachdev at right-back because he’s a right wing back rather than a classic right back. Make it make sense.

In fairness, we got off to a perfect start, pressing from the kick off and deservedly taking an early lead. Lundstram nicked the ball off a Rochdale player whose first touch let him down, and laid the ball off for Hope, who finished it beautifully.

It didn’t last, because we’re shite at defending from set pieces. The Rochdale corner kick was awful, but our defending was worse. The goal was credited to Mather, but it looked a lot like a Gardner own goal – his attempt at clearing the ball went painfully wrong, and it trickled in slow motion into the net.

It was a decent performance, and we had plenty of chances – Hope forced a great save from their keeper with a curling shot after picking up the ball on the edge of the area and Dallas hit the post – but we couldn’t make the most of them and Norwood was lacking in sharpness. If only he’d attacked the ball with the same aggression as he attacked the corner flag, the daft get. We had no strikers on the bench, with Fondop suspended and Garner out with a hip injury. The game was crying out for Alex Reid. Mellon’s cutting his nose off to spite his face by continuing to freeze him out, and it’s costing us points.

On the plus side, it was an improvement on the Altrincham game, and Lundstram and Hope both looked impressive. It was two points dropped, though, and Sachdev’s pace and Reid’s energy up front could have made a big difference. It’s so frustrating.

Also frustrating: the ongoing clusterfuck that is the Halifax pitch. Our game against them got called off AGAIN on Tuesday, and Halifax have since announced that their home games against Barnet and Ebbsfleet will be played at Accrington Stanley’s ground. Accy’s chair, Andy Holt, has said that they’d be happy to accommodate our game v Halifax, but the police won’t sanction it. So, at the time of writing, with a week of the season left, the game is still yet to be rearranged, and Halifax are already playing next Tuesday. It’s an utter shambles and a shit way to treat both Halifax’s own supporters and ours.

At least our game got called off the day before. Gateshead’s game vs Aldershot on Tuesday was called off 20 minutes before kick off. Gateshead is 300 miles away from Aldershot. It’s completely unacceptable, and late postponements happen too often in this league.

We're still in with a chance of making the playoffs, especially with the fixture pile up caused by aforementioned postponements that a few teams have to contend with this week. It's looking unlikely, but it's not over until it's over. In any case, the players must surely want to put right our dismal run of only 1 win in 11 games, for professional pride of nothing else.

Our opponents today, Oxford City, are playing purely for pride, having already been relegated, but they can be rightly pride of the journey they've been on. This Twitter thread is a nice potted history of how they fought to save their club from oblivion, culminating in them facing us as equals (yeah, I don't like it either, but that's what we are and we have to suck that up) playing at the highest level in their history. I wish them all the best for the future.

Not for today, though. Today, I'd quite like the players and the coaching team to remember that we're Oldham Fucking Athletic and this is the lowest level we've ever played at and having put us through the multiple nadirs of the Hendon game, the Kidderminster game, the Fylde game, etc etc et-fucking-cetera, they owe us a huge fucking improvement in these last few matches. Step it up, lads. KTMFF.

Written by Arlene Finnigan. Photos © Thomas Lee Stacey.

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