A SLIP at the crucial moment from keeper David Martin proved costly as Dons struggled in the torrential rain, going down 2-1 to Oldham on Monday night.
The Boundary Park pitch was treacherous under foot, with players on both sides losing their footing, but Martin’s slip just before the interval allowed Shefki Kuqi the simplest of finishes to open the scoring. A super strike 10 minutes into the second half from Tom Adeyemi doubled the Oldham advantage as they looked well in control throughout, despite Clinton Morrison’s late tap in five minutes from time.
Shaun Williams dropped to the substitutes bench to make way for the returning Stephen Gleeson, who served his suspension against Notts County. With Charlie MacDonald still out with a thigh injury, Clinton Morrison remained up front.
Torrential rain soaked the pitch, forcing the linesman to repaint the lines several times, but the conditions also made playing along the floor difficult as the ball got held up. But it didn’t stop Dons from playing their fast, flowing football, and forced the first save of the game, coming in the sixth minute. Clinton Morrison’s clever flick found Angelo Balanta on the edge of the box, who in turn slipped through to Luke Chadwick who raced through, but fired straight at Alex Cisak.
Neither side really had the upper hand in the opening 20 minutes, though Oldham probably shaded possession but failed to test David Martin as the tight midfield battle ensued.
Oldham were dealt a cruel blow in the 23rd minute as top scorer Reuben Reid, chasing a long ball with Darren Potter, pulled up with what appeared to be a hamstring pull. He was replaced by former Dons loanee Filipe Morais.
Chances were at premium in the appalling conditions, but Dean Bowditch tested Cisak from range on the half hour, with the keeper struggling to hold the slippery ball.
Shefki Kuqi nearly tapped in from a clever through ball, but was beaten by the offside trap two minutes later and Robbie Simpson fired in from range as both sides went in search of the opener.
Oldham looked to be getting the upper hand as the first half clock ran down, but Dons had the best chance of the half when Chadwick’s direct run took the Latics defence by surprise and he made it to the byline. But unfortunately for the travelling supporters, his cross was just over the head of Morrison who attacked it at the far post.
Morrison then turned provider from a similar position, but Bowditch was just out of reach of the cross as Dons began to turn up the pressure.
But the conditions played into the hands of Oldham as Kuqi was gifted the opener. A long ball up from half way looked to be gathered easily by Martin, but he slipped at the vital moment, allowing the former Finnish international to tap into the empty net two minutes before the break.
And the lead could have been doubled when, in stoppage time, Kuqi rounded Martin, but he fired into the side netting, sparing any further blushes from the Dons goalkeeper.
And it was from another defensive mistake, 10 minutes after the break, that put Oldham in pole position to take all three points. Tom Adeyemi chased a long ball from Simpson and while Doumbe should have beaten him to it, Adeyemi brushed off the defender and fired across Martin into the far side of the net, doubling the lead.
Bowditch came closest to cutting Oldham’s advantage with a right-footed effort which sailed just past the post, but it was hard to see where the goal was coming from.
Dons were lucky not to be a man, and another goal, down in the 62 minute when it appeared Mark Beevers punched the ball away after Taylor’s header from two yards looked goal-bound, but the referee was behind a crowd of players and couldn’t see clearly.
Martin, collecting MacKenzie’s risky back-pass, slipped and nearly let in Kuqi again as the conditions looked to get the better of the visiting side, while Oldham looked more than comfortable.
Morais shot narrowly wide as the home side flowed forward looking for a third, but time was Dons’ biggest enemy as the clock ran down as they struggled the break down the stubborn Latics defence.
But Clinton Morrison’s tap from Anthony McNamee’s cross five minutes time made for a tense finish as Dons sensed a point was still on offer.
And Morrison came closest to equalising for Dons as he raced through on goal, but the pace on the ball took it just out of reach of the striker and into the arms of Cisak.
The result means Dons miss out on the chance to go back to second in the table, remaining fourth after Saturday’s fixtures went against them.
Dons now have two home games on the spin to get back to winning ways, starting on Saturday against relegation battling Bournemouth.
Referee: Nigel Miller
Oldham Athletic: Cisak, Diamond, Clarke, Lee, Mellor (Mvoto, 88), Wesolowski, Adeyemi, Taylor, Reid (Morais, 26), Simpson (Furman, 89), Kuqi
Subs not used: Gerrard, Smith
MK Dons: Martin, Lewington, Doumbe (McNamee, 72), Beevers, MacKenzie, Gleeson, Potter, Balanta (Williams 630, Bowditch (Powell, 63), Chadwick, Morrison
Subs not used: Chicksen, Flanagan