Fleetwood Town 0, Oldham Athletic 1
Fleetwood fans have certainly seen some attractive pre-season opposition after manager Micky Mellon made every effort to test his side in the five Highbury friendlies.
The downside is that they haven’t seen their favourites score a single goal.
Town have been beaten by three League One sides, but at least gave Oldham a far closer contest than they had managed to give Preston or Huddersfield.
In an entertaining game played in hot conditions, the only goal came in the 33rd minute, when Oldham central defender Zander Diamond headed home, after being given too much space by Town’s defence.
Oldham manager Paul Dickov, the former Blackpool striker, had seen his side defeat the Seasiders 2-1 at Boundary Park seven days earlier.
The Cod Army showed their respects before kick-off to former club captain Lee Pryers, who died last week. Lee’s father joined the teams in the centre circle for a moving minute’s applause.
With three full-backs injured, Peter Cavanagh returned to the left-back role, while centre-half Matty Hughes switched to right-back in the absence of Shaun Beeley, whose ankle injury sustained early in the previous match against Jelgava is expected to keep him out of action for three to four weeks.
The Oldham side included striker Reuben Reid, whose goals for Walsall knocked Town out of the FA Cup last season.
Fleetwood had the majority of the possession and territory in the early stages, spreading the ball round confidently, with Anthony Barry prominent in midfield.
Oldham showed their attacking prowess in the eleventh minute as Chris Taylor ran strongly down the middle before Filipe Morais’ cross from the right was hooked clear by Town skipper Steve McNulty.
England C striker Andy Mangan fired Town’s first effort over the top and a Gareth Seddon header from almost 18 yards was comfortably taken by Sam Johnstone, the young Oldham keeper drafted in from Manchester United to cover for injury problems.
Town keeper Scott Davies made excellent diving saves from well-struck shots by Morais and Taylor, as an entertaining game unfolded on a magnificent surface.
Fittingly, Town’s Dale Frith was presented with his Groundsman of the Year award at half-time by guests from the FA and Conference.
The first injury stoppage occurred on the half-hour, as Seddon received treatment for a suspected broken nose after a heavy challenge from Zander Diamond. The injury was to end the striker’s game at half-time.
Town continued to compete strongly, with Mangan seeing a lot of ball down the left, but Oldham scored the only goal when Matty Lund’s cross was met by the unmarked Diamond.
An injury to Barry soon afterwards gave both sides an opportunity to take water and a breather.
Town had more than played their part in an open first half without fully testing Johnstone, the recovered Barry firing a free-kick well wide of the keeper’s left post.
Seddon’s replacement Richard Brodie was soon involved, earning a free-kick after a challenge from Jean M’Voto, which resulted in words between the players.
As Town kept up the pressure in front of the Memorial Stand, Keith Briggs curled a left-foot shot narrowly wide after being set up by Magno Vieira.
Davies kept his side in the game just before Brodie went down on the edge of the area, complaining bitterly that a penalty should have been awarded.
Dickov then made five substitutions but the loudest applause was reserved for the Jamie Milligan’s first pre-season appearance, replacing Briggs.
The ever-popular midfielder had an early opportunity to use his magical left foot and a trademark cross from the left just eluded Brodie in front of goal.
Considering the heat, it was no surprise the pace of the game slowed in the second half, though Sean Clancy just failed to get on to the end of a cross.
Loan striker Brodie again showed good form and Crawley seemed the most likely player to get Town back into the game as he ran strongly at the defence.
However, it was Oldham’s Ryan Brooke who had the last chance of the game, just failing to capitalise on a cross from the left.
The crowd of 1,253 had some good entertainment, as well as an opportunity to top up their tans.
Fleetwood: Davies, Hughes, McNulty, Atkinson, Cavanagh, Barry, Briggs, Triallist, Mangan, Vieira, Seddon; subs: Clancy, Milligan, Brodie, Donnelly, Rowe; not used: St Louis-Hamilton, Linwood.