IN spite of a quagmire of a pitch, both teams contributed to an entertaining game of football in which a late goal by in-form Rob Hopley gave Winsford three points.

Playing good football on the floor was impossible in the conditions and so it was not surprising there were few clear opportunities.

The chances the Blues created were dealt with by home goalkeeper David Carnell whose anticipation gave him the better of four one-on-one first half opportunities.

The first of these fell to Hopley in the 19th minute when Carnell raced off his line to block the shot.

Further similar chances fell to Mark Quinn, Stuart Wellstead and Hopley again, but each time the goalkeeper was quick off the mark.

In between these Chris Melia cut in from the right but saw his shot glance the outside of the near post.

Oldham had to wait until injury time at the end of the first half before they tested Craig Clare, but he saved well from Andy Long.


As so often happens, Oldham had more of the play when kicking up the steep slope and their quick forwards began to cause the Blues' defence problems but their reliance on long-range shots failed to trouble Clare.

Winsford stepped up a gear when substitutes Danny Topping and Chris Hutchinson were brought on, with the latter in particular looking to re-establish himself in the first team after a long injury break.

A period of prolonged pressure led to the winning goal when Oldham failed to clear an 87th minute cross from the right and Hopley fired home through a crowded penalty area.

The visitors looked to reinforce their lead in the closing minutes and Hopley and Hutchinson might have done so on a better surface.

This Saturday the Blues have a vital match against close rivals Flixton (3pm). With just one point separating the teams Winsford need to win to be certain of holding on to second spot.

BLUES: Clare, Robinson, Stanton, Chambers, Marsh, Hughes, Melia, Quinn, Arnold (Topping 63), Hopley, Wellstead (Hutchinson 75). Sub not used: Booth. Star man: Craig Robinson.