Exeter City 1-2 Oldham Athletic: Five things we learned
Photo by Eddie Garvey/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Harry Kewell’s Oldham Athletic were 2-1 victors away to Exeter City on Saturday, their first win against the Grecians since 2009. It was only the Latics’ fourth win in the league this season; although their third on the road.

Here are five things to take away from the game:

Rowe’s free-kick prowess

Few Latics players in recent years have been able to produce a moment of individual brilliance as good as that of Danny Rowe against Exeter City.

With Dylan Bahamboula brought down in the middle of the park, the 30-year-old stepped up from around 35 yards out. In a position where many would have opted to play a ball into the box, he instead unleashed a powerful effort which soared over the wall and into the top-right corner.

It is not the first time this season where he has impressed from a free-kick either, having scored from range against Doncaster Rovers in the Papa John’s Trophy. During his time at AFC Fylde, it was a trademark characteristic of his playstyle.

Shades of his abilities from range were shown against Hampton and Richmond and Saturday’s result proves just how crucial he can be for Latics.

Lawlor a lifesaver

With 38% of possession across the ninety minutes, it took a spirited defensive effort to stop the Grecians nullifying Oldham’s first-half efforts.

Goalkeeper Ian Lawlor was once again solid between the sticks, making a number of good saves to make sure that Exeter’s eight shots on target only resulted in a single goal.

He even came close to stopping the first goal, only for a Randell Williams volley to undo his goal-line heroics.

A good game for Fage

French youngster Dylan Fage has made 14 appearances for Latics this season, only one less than in the 19/20 campaign, and although his game still shows some flaws, he put in a good performance against Exeter.

His workrate was excellent, constantly tracking back. His first-half pass to Dylan Bahamboula broke the lines and made way for the Congolese international to assist George Blackwood, a pivotal moment in the match.

Only 21 years old, it is worth remembering that he lacks experience in senior English football and is still a player who is growing. His final ball may not be perfect and at times he seems off the mark, but he played well in Devon on Saturday and is somebody who still has lots of time left to develop.

Blackwood settling in

In a more natural position on the left of the Latics’ attacking line, George Blackwood put in arguably his best performance of the season.

His finish for the opener will undoubtedly be overshadowed by Rowe’s free-kick, but it was an excellent goal in its own right, the Australian coming onto the ball and curling it past Jökull Andrésson at the first time of asking.

He has previously been deployed as a central striker and that does not always get the best out of his game, often clashing with the similar, more reserved style of Danny Rowe. Blackwood cannot bring the same threat with speed in front of goal that Zak Dearnley and Conor McAleny may, but he has his own strengths which must be taken advantage of.

It has taken him some time to get up to full fitness and settle into the squad but the forward, who joined on a two-year deal over the summer, was crucial to Oldham’s success in Saturday’s game.

A lack of clinicalness

Picking up three points against an Exeter side who were 13-games unbeaten is a good feat in itself, but Oldham should have really had the result wrapped up much earlier than they did.

In a short space of time in the second half, George Blackwood, Dylan Fage and Danny Rowe all had chances which they should have converted, but they were not able to beat the goalkeeper.

Dylan Bahamboula was once again formidable on the wing, but his end product often leaves more to be desired, and if he had managed to score, then the game could have been a much more comfortable win for the Latics.

The readmissions of Dearnley and McAleny, who are both currently out through injury, could help with this and being more clinical could be especially advantageous if Oldham are to have greater consistency in the league this year.

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