ALAN GOWLING struck at the double to keep Town in touch with Division III’s leading pack.
On a December afternoon when the top three in what is now League I – Bristol Rovers, Bournemouth and York – all won, these hard-fought two points were vital for Ian Greaves’ fifth-placed side, who had been relegated the season before.
It meant they moved level with fourth-placed Oldham and stayed four points off the promotion places.
It was the first league meeting between the pair in more than 50 years, and the fans of both sides knew its importance, with 8,074 turning out.
They were treated to an entertaining duel, with Town’s battling performance prompting Oldham manager Jimmy Frizzell to say: “They are as good as Bristol Rovers.”
Greaves, a former Oldham player, wouldn’t be drawn on his thoughts on a promotion tilt, but Gowling, having taken his season’s goal tally to 11, said: “It’s all to play for.
”We had a tough time of it last season, but as far as finding confidence on the field is concerned, this team has turned the corner.
“At one time, nobody wanted the ball. They wanted to pas responsibility onto somebody else.
“But now the experienced players are pulling the strings and the younger ones are stepping up to the challenge.
Gowling was particularly pleased with his winner, chalked up on the hour as Town completed a comeback victory after George McVitie’s ninth-minute strike.
“It was a great move and a very good cross from Bobby Hoy,” said the 24-year-old former Manchester United man, pictured below.
“What gave me the greatest pleasure is that it was a header. It’s a long time since I scored one of those!”
Town started strongly, and hit a post through Terry Dolan after five minutes, but Oldham gained the lead against the run of play.
Former West Brom man McVitie picked up Dick Mulvaney’s neat pass and cut in from the right to drill the ball past Terry Poole from 25 yards.
Crucially, Poole made a brilliant one-handed save from veteran frontman Andy Lochead, then denied McVitie, before Oldham were rocked by a 42nd-minute equaliser.
Full-back Ian Wood sold keeper Harry Dowd short with a backpass and Gowling nipped in to net with a first-time left-foot shot.
It was all Town at the start of the second half, and 17-year-old left-back Paul Garner missed an open goal before Gowling claimed his second.
There was still time for Poole to thwart Wood as Town held out.
Town: Poole, Hutt, Garner, Pugh, Saunders, Gray, Chapman, Gowling, Summerill, Dolan, Hoy. Sub not used: Newton.
Oldham: Dowd, Wood, Whittle, Mulvaney (McNeil, 52mins), Hicks, Edwards, McVitie, Jones, Lochead, Blair, Robins.
Referee: Harry Powell (Stourport).