Football: Oldham deprived by Watson

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The Independent Online
Oldham Athletic. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

Sheffield Wednesday. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

A SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY side well below Wembley strength did enough at Boundary Park last night to deny Oldham the three points they needed in their Premier League survival fight.

Gordon Watson, who ranks only as a stand-in for stand-ins among this season's cup final specialists, did the damage with a 65th-minute equaliser after another Wednesday irregular, Ryan Jones, had hit the post.

It was a fitting way for Watson - starting in the absence of Hirst, Bright and Warhurst - to atone for missing an easier first-half chance from a rebound, but for Oldham it was a bitterly disappointing manner in which to lose two precious points.

They had begun the match as by far the livelier side and Ian Olney, Paul Bernard and Andy Barlow were all denied in the first half by international- class saves from Chris Woods. Oldham's new signing, Darren Beckford, also hit the bar with a header.

But the only chance Oldham could take during their dominant period was not a chance at all. Simon Stewart, another of Wednesday's reserves, fouled Olney on the edge of the box, Neil Adams's persistence from the free-kick won a corner, and Neil Pointon curled it directly into the net at the near post with his left foot.

As Wednesday gradually got to know each other, they began to hint that a single goal might not be enough to continue Oldham's recent good run. Even so, their first chance - the one spurned by Watson - had to come from Richard Jobson's miscue against his own post. Watson then tested Paul Gerrard with a venomous shot born of his frustration at the miss and Chris Waddle put a shot against Gerrard's boot when clean through on goal.

The feeling that Oldham were far from secure grew in the second half as Gerrard saved from Jones when the Wednesday man should have had him beaten and the substitute, Chris Bart- Williams, poked a shot wide.

After Watson's equaliser, a game of much incident still had room for a disallowed goal at each end. Waddle was denied for offside, but more mystifying - at least for the Oldham fans - was the apparent ruling that Adams had nudged his opponent before putting a shot into the net. It was a decision that could prove costly when the final addition and subtraction take place.

Oldham Athletic: Gerrard; Halle, Pointon, Barlow, Jobson, Fleming, Adams, Beckford, Olney, Milligan, Bernard. Substitutes not used: Keizersweerd, Brennan, Keeley (gk).

Sheffield Wednesday: Woods; Nilsson, Worthington, Stewart, Harkes (Bart-Williams, 60), Anderson, Hyde, Waddle (King, 88), Jones, Jemson, Watson. Substitute not used: Pressman (gk).

Referee: A Wilkie (Chester-le-Street).

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