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Rovers go to Oldham for their final league game on May 8th. 

A play-off place is within touching distance and a win would assure FGR of that place.  Rival play-off contenders Salford are at home to Leyton Orient and Exeter are hosting Barrow but Rovers have a 1-point lead over Exeter and a 2-point advantage over Salford in the race for that final play-off place.   

In Oldham, they will be faced by the league’s most potent attack (72 goals scored) and the league’s leakiest defence (78 goals conceded).  Oldham have really been a team of contrast this season.  Another contrast is between Oldham’s home and away form.  With 34 points from 23 matches, their away form has been pretty respectable.  But their home form is the worst in the league (on a par with Southend).  Oldham have only managed 20 points from their 22 home games.

The clubs only played each other last in February.  Goals from Cargill (2), Matt & Davison for Rovers and McAleny (2) and Grant for the Latics made for a pulsating 4-3 Rovers win.  The original game was meant to be in January but fog led to its abndonment at half time with the sides level 1-1.

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Fog forced abandonment when Rovers faced Oldham in January.

Oldham haven’t hesitated to ring the managerial changes in recent years.  When Rovers played Oldham in February their manager was Harry Kewell.  Kewell was appointed in August 2020.  The former Leeds and Liverpool striker came to Oldham in 2020 after managing Crawley Town and following his dismissal by Notts County (after just 10 weeks in charge at the club). In 2012 Kewell was named in Australia as their finest footballer ever but his reign at Oldham was predictably short and he was dismissed in March..

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ex-Oldham boss Harry Kewell

Today’s manager is Keith Curle, who moved to Oldham after being dismissed by Northampton.  The former England defender is on a short-term deal with Oldham until May 8th.  It’s not certain whether his contract will be renewed.  Lee Johnson managed the club until February 2015 and Keith Curle is the 13th manager in charge of Oldham since Johnson left!  Nobody has lasted a whole season since 2015.

Keith Curle is in charge of Oldham at the moment.

Oldham fall behind in almost 70% of their matches but recover more than half the time from this deficit. Rovers fans will know about Oldham’s recovery powers from the abandoned game in January (when a Nicky Cadden strike was cancelled out by a Zak Dearnley equaliser just before the break) and from the February game where Oldham levelled twice before finally going down 4-3.

Oldham’s danger men include this season’s top scorer, the left sided forward Conor McAleny (No 18) and forwards Davis Keillor-Dunn and Alfie McCalmont.  McAleny, who was at Everton early in his career, has netted 19 times in the league this season. Like McAleny, attacking right-sided midfielder, Dylan Bahamboula (No 24), impressed when he played at The New Lawn and has provided the most assists for the team this season.

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Conor McAleny – Oldham’s top marksman this season

On a hill where you can see the centre of Manchester, Oldham play at Boundary Park, the 3rd highest ground in the EFL. At 160 metres above sea level, only The New Lawn and The Hawthorns are higher. Boundary Park is so-called as it lies on the north-western boundary of Oldham.

Oldham have more local rivals than most. The stadiums of Rochdale Salford City, Huddersfield, Burnley, Bolton, Accrington, Blackburn & (until their expulsion from the league) Bury are all EFL teams within a 20 mile radius. Most Oldham supporters see Rochdale as their chief rivals these days but these rivalries are often eclipsed by hatred of two other teams who play less than 10 miles away – Manchester United and Manchester City.

In their history over the last 100 years Oldham have spent most of their time in the 2nd and 3rd tiers of the EFL. This is their 3rd spell in the 4th tier – they had a few seasons around 1960 and a short spell around 1970. After the latter there were under the stewardship of two of their longest serving managers – Jimmy Frizzell and Joe Royle. Their fortunes culminated in 3 seasons in the Premier League in the early 1990’s. Joe Royle moved to manage Everton and, since that time, it’s been mostly downhill.

The town of Oldham, at its peak, was the most productive cotton-spinning mill town in the world. But the industry declined during the 20th century and the last mill closed in 1998. Today, its population of over 100,00 is mostly residential.

Famous Oldhamers (as people from Oldham are called) include presenters Phillip Schofield and Nick Grimshaw, actors Eric Sykes, Christopher Biggins, Bernard Cribbins, Dora Bryan, soap stars Shobna Gulati and Anne Kirkbride, physicist and science educator Brian Cox, and comedy duo Cannon & Ball. The town was also home to the bands Inspiral Carpets, N-Trance and Barclay James Harvest, as well as Take That’s Mark Owen.