Stevenage lost a seven-goal thriller at The Lamex this afternoon in their opening Sky Bet League 1 game of the season.
In team news, Graham Westley handed a start to Lucas Akins on the right flank with Luke Freeman on the left. Summer signings Luke Jones, Sam Wedgbury, Simon Heslop and Oumare Tounkara all started their first competitive games for the club, the latter partnering Darius Charles up front.
It was an eventful start to the game with Jose Baxter heading wide and then Lee Hills being cautioned, all within the opening 90 seconds.
Both sides continued to look bright in a fast and frenetic first 15 minutes with Tansey seeing two shots go over and at the ‘keeper respectively and both Montano and Baxter going close for Oldham.
There was also an early sub for Boro when the cautioned Hills was replaced by Filipe Morais, with Darius moving to left-back.
As the half progressed in driving rain, Oldham looked neat in possession and tried to get forward at every opportunity but were often thwarted by Boro’s defending.
At the other end sub Morais looked particularly bright, seeing one shot deflect behind for a corner and then winning another corner after good play down the left flank.
On 35 mins the Latics thought they’d scored when James Tarkowski nodded in past Chris Day but the ref blew for an infringement on Boro’s ‘keeper, much to the delight of the home faithful and dismay of the Oldham fans at the other end.
Despite the visitors probably seeing the best of the half, Boro got the breakthrough just before the break with a smartly worked corner. Darius Charles took the corner short to Luke Freeman who spread the ball to Tansey and then out to Wedgbury on the right. His diagonal ball found Charles at the back post – his header across goal was turned onto the post by Luke Jones but Charles was there to smash in the loose ball to give the hosts a narrow lead at the break.
If the first half was all-action and few goals, the second half was worth the entry money alone with six goals in an entertaining 45 minutes.
Six minutes into the half Greg Tansey was cautioned after conceding a number of free-kicks and from the resulting set piece Tarkowski volleyed home an equaliser from close range.
The visitors pushed on and enjoyed a period of sustained possession but credit to Boro’s defence who stood firm, with Chris Day forced into one save when a cross-cum-shot from James Dayton flew at him.
Marcus Haber came on for Lucas Akins as Graham Westley opted for a change up top, leaving Filipe Morais to move wide right.
Oldham went 2-1 up on 65 minutes from the spot. Charlie MacDonald went down in the box after a push from Sam Wedgbury and up stepped Jose Baxter. The former Everton man saw his initial effort saved by Day only for the former Everton man to fire home into the unguarded net.
Three minutes later it was 3-1. Oldham intercepted a short corner from Luke Freeman and poured forward. Christian Montano raced through, held off the challenge of the covering Wedgbury and finished beautifully over Day.
Tounkara headed over from a Morais cross as Boro responded but the Frenchman made amends just a minute late, playing in a perfect low cross from the right to Tansey who fired home to reduce the deficit with 14 minutes remaining.
Tounkara again went close when he evaded a tackle in the box but fired over, whilst at the other end Chris Day had to be alert to tip a Baxter free-kick over the bar.
But Boro drew level on 81 minutes. Tansey fired in a free-kick and in sneaked Filipe Morais to beat a suspect Oldham offside trap, take a touch and calmly fire home past Oxley to send the home crowd wild.
Their joy was short-lived however as the visitors were awarded a penalty at the other end with just five minutes remaining, when a shot flew hit Darius Charles’ leg, bounced up onto this hand and the ref harshly gave a spot-kick for handball. Day guessed the right way but Baxter’s penalty was too good.
Despite five minutes of injury time Boro couldn’t find another equaliser, leaving Graham Westley’s men to put this opening day defeat behind them and move on to Tuesday’s Capital One Cup game here against Ipswich Town.
Boro: Day, Wedgbury, Ashton, Jones (Shroot), Hills (Morais), Akins (Haber), Heslop, Tansey, Freeman, Charles, Tounkara
Subs not used: Arnold, Burrow, N’Guessan, Deacon