The three points were not enough to lift Oldham off the bottom of the First Division but the contribution of the striker Ian Ormondroyd, signed on a free transfer from Bradford City a little less than a month ago, promises lift off soon.
At 6ft 5in, Ormondroyd clearly has an advantage in the air over most players and, in his third game for Oldham, he put it to good use twice in the first half heading in the winger David Beresford's cross and Paul Rickers's corner. "Give him quality crosses and nine times out of ten he will get on to the end of them," Sharp said. "He is playing for a new contract at the end of the season and he is already half way there."
Before Vale could recover from the second blow, Beresford's corner was clipped in by Nicky Banger. "We never got hold of Ormondroyd and that was the difference," Vale manager John Rudge said. "It was game, set and match after 45 minutes."
Ormondroyd's former club, Bradford, had to withstand early pressure from visitors Southend United, who forced six corners in the first nine minutes. But the Seasiders' afternoon looked all but ruined after 30 minutes when Mark McNally was sent off after a heavy tackle on Carl Shutt.
The home side dominated the rest of the match but couldn't break down Southend's resolute defence. "It was a great opportunity for us to move halfway up the table. We had five excellent chances to score but we couldn't take them," the Bradford manager Chris Kamara said after the 0-0 draw.
Apart from the sending-off, Southend thought they had a good goal disallowed, claiming that Keith Dublin's eighth-minute header crossed the Bradford goal line. "I was very happy with the point," the manager Ronnie Whelan said. "It is difficult when you are down to 10 men after half an hour. I think the sending-off was harsh, but we as managers are getting used to that sort of thing."
In the Second Division, Paul Barnes scored all five goals in Burnley's 5-2 win over Stockport at Turf Moor and Barry Fry's heart condition cannot have been helped by the performance of his Peterborough side at Preston. One-nil up at half-time, Posh conceded three goals in six second-half minutes but were back level by the 82nd minute. With four minutes left, Zeke Rowe scored their winner. Medical staff were standing by.