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Oldham Athletic 1-4 Ebbsfleet United
Oldham Athletic 1-4 Ebbsfleet United

Ebbsfleet are clearly keeping their away wins for the bigger scalps in the division as they added Oldham Athletic to Rochdale to end a barren spell and thrash the Latics by the same scoreline the home side despatched Barnet in midweek.

Those a little longer in the tooth amongst the fanbase might recall 30 years ago Oldham playing at the highest level of English football while the Fleet were taking on the Beazer Homes League Southern Division and they might have had to rub their eyes as their side piled in three goals in the final 10 minutes to demolish the Premier League founders.

Greg Cundle sent the Fleet on their way but a James Norwood penalty 20 minutes from the end might have unleashed an Oldham revival. But it never came as Dominic Poleon, substitute Nathan Odokonyero and Dominic Samuel secured their side’s most impressive result of the season.

There were three changes in the Fleet starting list with Cundle, Toby Edser and Matthias Fanimo resuming duty in place of Ben Chapman, Franklin Domi and Darren McQueen.

Oldham were unchanged which meant former Tranmere and Ipswich striker James Norwood kept his place while ex-Fleet forward Alex Reid was injured.

The home side might have been expected to come out breathing fire after their midweek demolition of Barnet but they never got going in the initial stages and Fleet were calm and patient on the ball and able to build up a rhythm.

Nine minutes in marked Fanimo’s first foray into the box and the goal opened up briefly for him but Samuel tried to capitalise as well and neither player took the chance on.

But the Fleet needed no luck to unlock the Oldham defence a minute later and shock Boundary Park into silence. It was an excellent move, Cundle gaining ground and feeding former Latics man Poleon. With his back to goal he played in Edser whose first-time return pass was inch-perfect for Cundle to get ahead of pursuing blue shirts and fire across goal into the bottom corner.

Cundle was through in a similar position another 60 seconds later but this time Oldham got a man in the way to concede a corner. And the Fleet goalscorer was making all the early moves, a fantastic ball forward into the box for Samuel on the quarter-hour seeing the striker bundled over by Harrison McGahey but the referee took no notice of any penalty appeals.

Oldham continued to look sluggish as Fleet forced several corners but the home side managed to get away on the counter from one of those set-pieces on 24 minutes, Devarn Green racing away down the left and pinging in a dangerous cross that Fleet did well to clear behind.

Green surely thought he’d provided the cross for the equaliser 10 minutes later when his delivery from the right dropped over the Fleet defence, landing for Norwood just six yards. He took it first time and somehow Mark Cousins not only saved the striker’s initial shot but brilliantly stuck a leg out while diving the other way to prevent Norwood’s second touch creeping in.

And there was more great goalkeeping with the next attack but this time at the other end when Poleon went haring away from the Oldham defence and as he went to dink the ball around Matt Hudson, the goalkeeper did very well to get a hand on it to prevent a second Fleet goal.

Mustapha Olagunju and Fanimo both got their heads on to the next dangerous Oldham attack to keep Latics fans frustrated and that’s the way it stayed into the break after an excellent execution of the game plan.

Oldham had been enjoying a little more possession as the first-half headed towards its conclusion and while they tried to press that advantage home in the first 10 minutes after the restart, Fleet dealt with it ably.

In fine voice, the Fleet fans cared not that much of the second-half was devoid of any goalmouth action – and it was their side who had a couple of chances in close succession on 68 minutes to extend the lead. Luke O’Neill’s free-kick took a deflection as it crept past the post and from the corner, it was O’Neill again whose low effort had to be cleared off the line.

It was the same Fleet defender, however, who was deemed to be the culprit when Oldham equalised on 71 minutes from the spot. Latics subs Kurt Willoughby and Hallam Hope combined in the box for a shot on goal and the referee claimed he’d seen O’Neill handle as the ball deflected behind and Norwood converted from the penalty spot.

Fleet responded as Samuel’s header from Cundle’s deep cross fell into the goalkeeper’s arms at the far post and Hudson gathered Poleon’s effort 10 minutes from the end. The Fleet top scorer was just finding his range, however, as he struck gold to reach double figures on 82 minutes. As he did on Tuesday, O’Neill provided the ammo for Poleon to latch on to and his speed and predatory instinct took him into a shooting position and the rest was a foregone conclusion.

And it got even better four minutes after that. Edser was the man with the killer ball, slipping it through from a central position for Cundle. He might have gone for goal with just Hudson to beat but he sidefooted it along the six-yard line and there was Odokonyero to fire it home to despatch the home fans in their droves.

With the away fans in full voice, their side – teeming with confidence – found a fourth in time added on. Samuel simply waltzed through the Latics back line, leaving three defenders for dead before checking his run and switching the shot to wrong-foot the goalkeeper. The remaining minutes were played out in style to make the long journey home seem that much shorter for everyone of a red persuasion.

EUFC: Cousins, O’Neill, Kenlock, Olagunju, Cissé, Wright, Cundle, Fanimo (McQueen 83), Edser, Samuel, Poleon (Odokonyero 83). Subs: Tanner, Amoo
OAFC: Hudson, Kitching, Lundstram, Fondop (Hope 59), Sheron, Green, Raglan, McGahey, Gardner (Willoughby 46), Freeman (Hogan 60), Norwood. Subs: Norman, Shelton
Attendance: 6,429 (98 EUFC)