Football: Five-starMcCarthy

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The Independent Online
Oldham Athletic. . . . . . . 5

McCarthy 24, 57, Richardson 41, 70, Sharp 68

Charlton Athletic. . . . . . 2

Whyte14, Robinson 27

Attendance: 8,924

OLDHAM began life outside the Premiership looking determined to make their exile a brief one, the cavalier swagger of this victory recalling the attitude that took them into the top flight in the first place.

Twice behind to a neat and creative Charlton side, Oldham rediscovered the knack of giving more punishment than they take in games that fray the nerves of both defences.

Lee Richardson, their pounds 325,000 summer signing from Aberdeen, marked his debut with two thunderousgoals. The first, from 25 yards into the top right-hand corner, sent Oldham in level after a difficult first half. The second, from even further and with even more venom, rounded off an invigorating display of three goals in 12 minutes of the second.

Less spectacular, but equally encouraging, was the busy form of Richardson's midfield partner, Billy Kenny, now a permanent signing from Everton, while Sean McCarthy showed that he could be a force in the First Division with two powerfully headed goals. Oldham's aerial strength also produced a goal from Graeme Sharp, but any idea that the Endsleigh League is going to be a cakewalk was belied by the first half.

Charlton's ability to probe surprising angles around the penalty area made them constantly dangerous to a hesitant Oldham defence and their goals from David Whyte and John Robinson were notably well worked. A post and a fine save from Jon Hallworth denied them more. McCarthy's first goal - separating their two - had, as even the Oldham manager, Joe Royle, admitted, more than a hint of handball about it. 'I don't know whether we've been played off the park or been mugged a bit,' Charlton's Alan Curbishley said. 'It was a typical Oldham performance; they could have won 5-2 or lost 5-2.'

Royle, particularly impressed with Kenny's first appearance - only broughtabout because of a training injury to Nick Henry - said it had: 'looked like being one of our daffy days in defence. I can't explain it, but I've been saying that for 12 years.'

Oldham again have the look of a side that will concede a few but score a lot. 'Better than all that nil-nil stuff,' Royle said. As he observed, Premiership sides tend not to let you get away with it, but Oldham'sswashbuckling style was just right for the launch of their promotion campaign.

(Photograph omitted)