Date: 23rd December 2007 at 10:47am
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The past few weeks have shown an Oldham side starting to find decent form again after a poor start to a season where expectations were high. Earlier in the season Oldham came face to face with a Southend side who hoped to bounce back into the championship after last years relegation and true to expectations, the team who played championship football all last season were a class above us and we lacked any real cutting edge.

Within 4 minutes of the start Oldham hotshot Lee Hughes showed his class with a striker confident finish that would prove to seal all 3 points for Oldham. Hughes found himself on the end of a Craig Davies flick before moving past his marker and smashing the ball into the far corner.

To win this game Latics would not only need a lethal striker but a solid backline and praise has to be given to the outstanding Mark Crossley who after injury is becoming a crucial piece of the promotion puzzle. On the day Crossley was soundly beaten once by former Latic Leon Clarke who rounded Crossley before rolling the ball wide.

The first half progressed at a breakneck pace with both sides looking dangerous with Southend having a header cleared off the line and Craig Davies pulling a good save out of Southend keeper Collis. Before the half time whistle Davies and Kilkenny had good chances to put the game clear of doubt but failed.

The second half was initially controlled by Southend who forced Oldham to put extra effort into defending the lead. Many believe that attack is the best form of defence and it was a Lee Hughes drive that could of proved this but it was well blocked after a good corner.

It was Mark Crossley’s turn to show his class now with a display that frustrated home fans with top rate saves from Leon Clarke’s curler, Peter Clarke’s header and another Leon Clarke breakaway.

Manager John Sheridan introduced defensive midfielder JP Kalala to protect the lead and shortly after it was former Preston midfielder Alan McCormack who was given his marching orders for a second yellow after a late challenge caught Ryan Bertrand.

As the game was drawing to a close Southend looked to have shared the spoils when awarded a free kick. Up stepped Hammell who found the bottom corner, however from out of nothing came a world class save from possible man of the match Mark Crossley, who managed to tip it around the post.

At the end of the game Latics claimed all three points and the progression from when the 2 clubs met earlier this season is clear for all to see. It was Lee Hughes’ home debut in the 1-0 loss and with every improvement he and Mark Crossley makes, so does the team.

Play-offs here we come!