Let’s stop flirting with the drop: Oldham look to end four-season League One trend of mediocrity

Oldham Athletic, in their customary end-of-season position flirting with the drop as the final stretch approaches, can take encouragement from their record against Saturday’s League One opponents Bradford City.

With six games remaining and in 17th place, Oldham are yet again four points above the relegation zone having finished 16th, 17th, 16th and then 19th in the past four seasons.

A department they are good in however is away to 12th-placed Bradford, where they are unbeaten since February 1997 and have not lost away to them since September 1988.

Admittedly, the teams have only played eight times since 1997 (but Oldham have won six of those games) and have faced each other a mere five times at Bradford’s Valley Parade since 1988 (three Oldham wins, two draws).

Perhaps more significantly, Oldham have been on good form away from home recently, unbeaten on their travels since a 2-1 defeat at MK Dons on March 15, 10 games ago.

With six games in the next month starting with Saturday’s clash, Johnson is feeling optimistic about staying in League One.

“It was important we had the start of a little run,” said the 32-year-old.

“We’ve looked solid at the back and that’s the most important thing to move forward. 

“Everyone is in good spirits at the moment and confidence levels are high.”

If they are looking for inspiration, they need only go back as far as March 18 2006, when they won 4-1 at Valley Parade.

With Ritchie Wellens pulling the strings, Paul Warne, Luke Beckett (2) and Richard Butcher (the latter dying suddenly due to a heart condition while at Macclesfield Town in 2011) scored the goals for Oldham that day – how Johnson could do with the club’s current players performing to as high a standard in their next meeting.

Oldham can also take encouragement from Bradford’s poor run of form – two wins from their last eight games – while another boost to Johnson is having the advantage of naming an unchanged team for three consecutive matches.

“You see the little partnerships and the little technical points during the game that start to flourish,” he said.

“You train together and keep a settled side so it’s bound to happen.”

Any points that Oldham are able to take away from Bradford will give them some more breathing space in the relegation fight, which could be crucial bearing in mind that their next match is not until April 18, away to Colchester United, currently 18th in the league.

Main image courtesy of OfficialOAFC via YouTube, with thanks.

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