Barnsley. . . . . 0
ONLY A superb, instinctive goal from the veteran marksman Andy Ritchie denied Barnsley the reward they deserved from a rugged tie at Oldham. Ritchie's goal, five minutes after he was on as substitute in an effort to enliven a dismal home side, was undeniably of Premiership quality.
For much of the match, however, Oldham were outfought and outplayed by a side even more precariously placed in the First Division than Oldham are in the Premiership.
Jon Hallworth's long kick, after one of a number of saves he was forced to make by enterprising and hard-working opponents, was half-cleared by Gerry Taggart's header and the 33-year-old Ritchie met it with a glorious right-foot volley that was always destined to go over Lee Butler but under the bar.
Joe Royle's other substitution, an enforced one when Neil Pointon limped off with Achilles tendon damage, worked out almost as well. The Norwegian international Tore Pedersen gave Oldham much-needed thrust and a performance which had left Royle using words like 'horrible' and 'disgusted' began to redeem itself.
Apart from Ritchie's stunning goal, Paul Bernard hit the post, Richard Jobson the bar and Graeme Sharp had a shot pushed over. But Barnsley, 21st in the First Division, could still feel with justification that they had done enough for at least a replay. On a pitch with the consistency of a well-chewed dog biscuit, they made what running there was in the first half and had a near monopoly of chances.
They also had an appeal for a penalty turned down when Hallworth underlined Oldham's lack of composure by driving an attempted clearance into Andy Payton and then seeming to impede the striker as he tried to round him.
'I thought at the time that it was a penalty,' the Barnsley manager, Viv Anderson, said, 'but I'll have to see it on TV.'
Anderson admitted to some frustration as a non-playing player-manager, but was justifiably full of praise for his team's efforts. 'I thought they were magnificent,' he said. 'At times we looked like the home side. But we didn't get the little bit of luck that you need.'
By luck or good judgement, or a happy combination of the two, Oldham got precisely what they needed when Ritchie entered the fray.Reuse content