Port Vale succumbed to goals from Callum Lang, Mohamed Maouche, Gevaro Nepomuceno and Chris O'Grady on Saturday afternoon as Oldham Athletic ran out as victors at Vale Park. Ben Whitfield did find the net on his return to the starting line-up, but it came to nothing as Neil Aspin’s men fell to a home defeat.
It was the home side who created the first real opportunity of the afternoon with just four minutes played, but following a mazy run that allowed him to get inside the area, Whitfield was only able to find the gloves of Daniel Iversen from a tight angle.
The next chance fell to Oldham as Lang got in down the right flank. He cut inside past Theo Vassell before letting fly from close range, but Vale ‘keeper Scott Brown was equal to it and he made a sprawling save to deny the winger.
Luke Hannant was then presented with a sighting of goal three minutes later as Mitch Clark’s cross found its way to him at the back post. He managed to control the ball before attempting to bend one into the far corner, but Iversen got across to clutch it to his chest.
As the Valiants continued to look for the breakthrough, they almost found it midway through the first half as Whitfield powered one towards goal from inside the area. He did well to shift the ball onto his right foot to shape one on target, but the goalkeeper parried it away.
Despite looking the more likely of the two teams to score, Vale fell behind with 32 minutes played. Maouche stole possession inside the final third before threading a pass through to Lang, and he tucked a finish beyond Brown and into the far corner.
It didn’t take long for Aspin’s men to respond, however, and they found an equaliser six minutes before half-time as Whitfield managed to prod Nathan Smith’s knock down over the line before wheeling away in celebration. Brown then pulled off a superb save to deny Chris O’Grady deep into stoppage time up the other end.
Following the restart, Vale were almost handed the lead in bizzare circumstances on 49 minutes as an attempted clearance ricocheted off an Oldham defender and it flew inches wide of the post with Iversen scrambling. Tom Pope then tried to squeeze an effort inside the near post four minutes later, but he couldn’t direct his half-volley on target.
Oldham then profited from a long throw-in routine almost immediately afterwards to regain their one-goal advantage, much to the frustration of the home supporters. Tom Hamer hurled the ball into the box and it reached Maouche at the far post, and the midfielder was able to get the decisive touch to beat Brown from six yards.
That goal seemed to steady the away side and they began to control possession, but it was Vale who had the next opportunity of the game. Cristian Montano teed up substitute Scott Quigley who found space inside the area, but he could only blaze his strike over the bar from a difficult angle.
With three minutes left to play, Oldham wrapped up their win with a third goal as Nepomuceno raced on the end of a Johan Branger-Engone pass to curl one into the top corner. O'Grady then made it four with the last kick of the game, slotting a finish beyond the Vale goalkeeper after beating the offside trap.
Port Vale: Scott Brown, Cristian Montano, Leon Legge, Antony Kay (Scott Quigley 66’), Manny Oyeleke, Tom Pope ©, Luke Hannant, Nathan Smith, Theo Vassell (David Worrall 45’), Mitch Clark, Ben Whitfield.
Unused Substitutes: Sam Hornby, James Gibbons, Luke Joyce, Louis Dodds, Tom Conlon.
Oldham Athletic: Daniel Iversen, George Edmundson, Jordan Lyden, Chris O’Grady, Chris Missilou, Callum Lang (Johan Branger-Engone 76’), Rob Hunt, Peter Ckarke ©, Gevaro Nepomuceno, Mohamed Maouche, Tom Hamer.
Unused Substitutes: Zeus De La Pazx, Andy Taylor, Sam Graham, Max Norman, Harry Robinson, Jack Williams.
Attendance: 4,435 (778 away).