REFEREE Andy Woolmer provided the main talking points of a Pennine derby high on intensity but short on drama and genuine chances.
The Northamptonshire official baffled and frustrated the players, managers and supporters of both sides with a some of his decisions, and was booed off both at half and full-time.
There were seven cautions, five of them for fouls, yet worse-looking tackles failed to merit even ‘a talking to’.
And credit to Alan Lee, who was on the end of some hefty challenges and needed stitches in a head wound, yet stuck to his task and never appeared to seek any retribution.
Controversial decisions aside, a draw was a fair outcome, because both sides had spells in the ascendancy and the occasional opportunities to make a breakthrough.
Town had to take the sting out of Oldham’s early pressure, with defender Reuben Hazell heading wide from Aidan White’s cross and on-loan Sunderland striker Oumare Tounkara having a low angled shot held by Ian Bennett, who marked his 500th career appearance with an eighth clean sheet in 18 outings for Lee Clark’s side.
But the home side gradually got a grip on the game, and a piercing 14th-minute run by Scott Arfield – in for the illness-hit Joey Gudjonsson – set up Gary Roberts, only for the wideman to stub his shot.
Town skipper Peter Clarke made one of a string of key blocks to thwart Tounkara in the 19th minute, but Town responded strongly.
Lee Peltier, back in midfield, linked neatly with Anthony Pilkington, whose probing cross was hacked to safety.
Jamie McCombe headed narrowly over from a Pilkington free-kick.
Then, in the 34th minute, Pilkington’s fierce set-piece strike after a foul by Tounkara on Peltier 20 yards out was well saved by on-loan Manchester United keeper Ben Amos.
Lee headed wide from a Roberts corner before leaving the field to have staples inserted into his cut head, before McCombe headed over as Roberts sent another free-kick into the danger zone.
Hazell’s mistimed header back to Amos almost let in Lee a minute after the restart, but the centre-back did well to recover with a key tackle.
And Bennett showed his reflexes remain sharp by blocking White’s shot at close quarters before the follow-up shot, fired in low by Reuben Reid, was cleared off the line by Clarke.
Bennett was equal to Portuguese frontman Filipe Morais’s effort from distance in the 51st minute while Arfield blasted over the bar when McCombe chested down the busy Clarke’s through ball in the 55th.
Boss Clark injected pace into his attack with the introduction of Danny Cadamarteri for the hard-working Lee, but it was Pilkington who came closest to beating the Latics defence.
Receiving the ball from Roberts after his 63rd-minute corner from the left was cleared, Pilkington worked the ball onto his right foot and swung in a cross which hit the base of the near post and bounced away.
A Roberts volley which flew high over the bar summed up the kind of afternoon Town were enduring, but it could have been worse, for Clarke made another crucial intervention in the 80th minute, this time to deny Morais.Finally, Cadamarteri’s stoppage-time cross found its way to Pilkington, who tried his luck with an overhead kick only to see his effort go wide.