Oldham boss John Sheridan thought his side were lucky to secure a massive 1-0 win at Stevenage in a Sky Bet League Two relegation dogfight.
Jamie Hopcutt’s first-half header was enough to boost the Latics three points clear of their opponents and the relegation zone in a match where the hosts missed numerous chances.
Sheridan, in his sixth spell with the club, was honest in his assessment of his team’s fortunes.
“We were lucky,” he said. “We were lucky, but the teams at the top of the league, your Exeters, your Northamptons, when they go in 1-0 at half-time, they usually end up winning the game 1-0.
“A few months ago we probably would have lost that game. We are where we are and we’ve been playing well and not got anything from games so I’ll take it.
“You just have to take it on the chin. You’re not always the best team. But our big following are going to go home happy.”
The win puts them level on points with 21st-placed Barrow, but they have challenging fixtures remaining, including three of the top four in their next three games.
“I just told them in there, we haven’t played well and don’t get carried away, don’t be celebrating. I saw a couple of them celebrating on their knees on Tuesday night. What’s that all about?” said Sheridan.
“So I told them, don’t be silly, don’t act silly because it will come back to bite you on the backside.
“There’s a long, long way to go. Stevenage probably think they should have won the game.”
The Hertfordshire side certainly had the better chances as Oldham sat back to soak up pressure in the second half, including a stoppage-time goalmouth scramble.
“I’ll end up having a heart attack,” said Sheridan. “It won’t do my health any good. But we’ve got to do it sometimes. It’s not nice on the eye but if that gets us over the line I’m not really too bothered.”
And Stevenage manager Steve Evans, taking in his first home game at his new club, agreed with Sheridan’s evaluation that the away team were lucky to come away with the points.
He said: “I think occasionally John Sheridan’s capable of telling the truth. We’ve been friends for a long time.
“I shook his hand when the time was up and he said, ‘we’ve just turned up with balaclavas and stole the points’.
“We know that, but I’d have settled for a balaclava performance today if I’d won 1-0.
“You look at it today and it’s not one player, but six or seven lads that should score a goal.”
But aside from his team’s poor finishing, Evans hailed the overall performance.
He said: “You look at the quality of the performance and if you perform like that, you’ll win games. We opened them up time and again.
“But then you need to be clinical, and we were the opposite of that today.
“We showed great endeavour, great clinical moves in the middle of the park, turning over the ball and opening them up. But the most important thing is scoring a goal.
“I don’t have any doubts if we’d got a goal at any time in the second half, we probably would have got a winner.
“It is a kicking considering their goal was the first time they’ve been in our box, and that might have been the last time as well.”
Stevenage travel to 20th-placed Colchester next week and Evans recognised the importance of bouncing straight back from such an agonising defeat.
He said: “It will be hard to look at the table tonight and tomorrow.
“I think we’ll all go home tonight, we’ll all remember the chances, we’ll look at the full game tomorrow and we’ll get ready for another cup final next week.
“Seven matches, seven cup finals.”
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