Football: Adams slams the brakes on United surge

Oldham Athletic. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

Manchester United. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

ALEX FERGUSON'S words to his team that the win at Liverpool would mean nothing if they lost at Oldham proved prophetic in this classic upset before a feverishly excited crowd last night.

Though the bottom team beat the top, thanks to a 26th-minute goal from Neil Adams, this was not one of those wobbly performances by United when they lost their nerve during the run-in to the championship last season. Following on from Saturday's 2-1 win at Anfield, the effort was there, the defence made one error of marking and the attack swarmed continuously around the Oldham area, but by the end they had gone close only once, a chip by Brian McClair that hit the crossbar.

Oldham, still relegation probables despite this hugely inspiring victory, have always been capable of raising their level of performance against distinguished visitors. Some years ago the plastic pitch was blamed regularly as the illuminati fled the mill chimneys muttering about artificial surfaces. Oldham, once on song, are a formidable proposition when a capacity Boundary Park crowd get behind them and this was one of those great Oldham nights.

They marked Ryan Giggs, McClair and Paul Ince tightly, not always fairly, but certainly ferociously, Mark Hughes almost never got goal-side of Richard Jobson, while Andrei Kanchelskis, given two of the three chances to come United's way, fired one straight at Paul Gerrard and the other over the angle.

United simply could not make headway against a defence who had conceded 55 League goals. Not that the red shirts could be faulted for work rate. Three corners followed quickly, the middle one producing a ferocious scramble on Oldham's six-yard line but the kick to clear came from an Oldham boot.

Exasperated, Ferguson took off Kanchelskis and sent on Dion Dublin for his first appearance since breaking a leg in September, but Oldham had planned for that, too, immediately replacing Neil Pointon with Steve Redmond.

United have been slow starters this year; at Liverpool they could have been two goals down in the first half-hour. They made a similar patchy start last night, not a nervous one, but if anything too confident that their speed and firepower would be too much for Oldham.

They might have been right, too, but for Adams. Mark Brennan took Oldham's first corner and Adams timed his run for the far post exactly. The corner evaded Peter Schmeichel's leap, the goalkeeper under challenge by Jobson, and United's far-post defenders seemed to catch sight of the ball too late to prevent Adams from leaping above them and heading into the net. The jubilation could have been heard for miles. Those Oldham fans who had given pounds 25 to the touts to stand thought the money well spent.

After that Oldham planted a dark-blue thicket across the front of their penalty area, double and treble marked the most advanced United forward, operated a smoothly sprung offside trap and every once in a while gave Ian Olney a long ball to chase through a stretched United defence to take the pressure off their tenacious defenders.

Joe Royle's team have now given Aston Villa the chance to regain the leadership tonight unless Spurs can return the compliment to Ferguson.

For United their home match against Villa on Sunday now has a double significance: they must win not only for the points but to regain their own sense of superiority and confidence and allay the growing anxiety this defeat will bring to their support.

It will be a different United; Eric Cantona returns after a two- match suspension. The one similarity between United last night and United last April was the lack of imagination around the opposing goal area. Cantona never lacks ideas.

Oldham Athletic: Gerrard; Halle, Pointon (Redmond, 75), Henry, Jobson, Fleming, Adams, Bernard, Olney, Milligan, Brennan. Substitutes not used: Palmer, Keeley (gk).

Manchester United: Schmeichel; Parker, Irwin, Bruce, Sharpe, Pallister, Kanchelskis (Dublin, 73), Ince, McClair, Hughes, Giggs. Substitutes not used: Phelan, Sealey (gk).

Referee: G Ashby (Worcester).

Leeds set to sign Kerslake,

World Youth Cup, page 31

Property
house + home
Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
Life and Style
Bats detect and react to wind speed and direction through sensors on their wings
tech
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
News
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Sport
football
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living