Football / Premiership Relegation Focus: Brave exit for Royle and his likeable Latics

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The Independent Online
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OLDHAM'S Joe Royle is a manager apart. He likes to leave a room on the back of a dry one-liner. And he left the Premiership with a quip or two.

'Everyone's telling me Sutton's in demand - we won't be bidding for him,' he said. His team's parting shot was also entertaining, a far more attractive, purposeful performance than had been seen in their run of two points from six games.

Royle said it would have been more difficult for the players had Oldham won on Saturday and still gone down. But, though there were too many thoughtless long balls for Oldham's departure to be over- romanticised, there was sufficient skill to rue it. Paul Gerrard, the Oldham keeper, made a string of outstanding savesand Rick Holden also impressed , delivering some pinpoint crosses.

But the cross everyone was talking about came from the boot of Neil Adams, who moved to Norwich from Oldham in February. His ball was met by Robert Ullathorne for the equaliser, Oldham having taken an early lead through Sean McCarthy.

Last season the gods conspired to allow Oldham a great escapes This time Oldham were the victims of the conspiracy. Their FA Cup run drained them, injuries prevented Royle ever playing his best team and a poor excuse for a pitch kept many home fixtures down to a lottery. Even the advantage of games in hand turned nasty with Oldham playing their final four vital games in the space of one week.

Royle was not looking for excuses. 'We are the second worst side and we're going down for it,' he said. But he added that they can be better than that. Indeed they can be better than a few of the teams staying put in the Premiership and few people will be cheering their departure.

Goals: McCarthy (14) 0-1; Ullathorne (72) 1-1.

Norwich City (4-4-2): Gunn; Culverhouse, Woodthorpe, Polston, Prior (Adams, 45); Bowen, Goss, Megson (Robins, 72), Ullathorne; Sutton, Ekoku. Substitute not used: Howie (gk).

Oldham Athletic (4-4-2): Gerrard; Makin, Pointon, Jobson, Fleming; Henry Holden, Brennan, Ritchie; McCarthy, Beckford (Barlow, 68). Substitutes not used: Redmond, Hallworth (gk).

Referee: D Frampton (Poole).

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