After a strong performance last week at home for the opening league game of the season, in which the thirds just lost out on a win in the closing seconds of the game, Oldham were looking to build on a promising start to the season with another home fixture against Ashton. There was some uncertainty about the schedule during the week due to the 2nds away fixture being reversed, and Ashton objecting to kicking off half an hour late to accommodate the 2nds reversed fixture, but the 15.00 kick off was eventually settled with the 2nds scheduled for a 13.30 kick off and one society referee doing both games.
The day had an inauspicious start. Firstly there was confusion about refereeing arrangements as another society referee became available at the eleventh hour, and then heavy rain falling throughout the morning threw a shadow of doubt over the likelihood of the Knott Lanes pitch being able to take two matches end to end without cutting up significantly. In the end the fixture was reversed, so the thirds travelled to Ashton to play the fixture away. There was a good turnout with twenty players arriving at Ashton, meaning there were options for rolling subs and changeovers during the game.
Resurrecting an over-used cliché, it turned out to be a game of two halves. In the first half, a fairly even battle ensued with fierce competition in the forwards, and for much of the half Oldham half their opponents back in their half with some useful momentum going forward. The scrum was closely fought, but Oldham held their own and used their possession well. There were well organised set piece moves in the backs called by Captain Paul Blomfield at fly half, assisted by Craig Gedey at inside centre.
Both sides came close to scoring, but there were too many errors resulting in a half time score of 0-0.
Oldham started the second half with confidence, hoping to get a nose in front early. However Ashton made the first break, and from then on Oldham were under pressure. Ashton had a number of players both in the forwards and backs who were quick and strong, and who started running hard and straight at the Oldham defence, and eventually the Oldham mistakes in defensive organisation and missed first tackles took their toll as the tries started to clock up. Eventually Ashton finished with five tries to Oldham’s none, a final score of 29-0. Oldham were still proud of their performance, and know what they need to do to score their first win next week.
For the second week running, the same player was awarded Man of the Match and Dick of the Day. This time it was Adam Dransfield, recently joining the 3rds from the Colts. He put in a great performance during the game with speed, good handling, backing up and decision making. However in the changing rooms before the match, he informed the team that he would have to go home at half time to do his homework! Needless to say this received short shrift from Captain Blomy and the team!