OLDHAM Athletic, who have spent the season battling not to lose their English Football League status, now find themselves in the enviable position of being able to look up rather than down at the table.
A six-match unbeaten run, which came to an end at Crewe Alexandra on Saturday (Feb 8), left Latics 14 points clear of bottom-club Stevenage.
Suddenly Latics, who collected 10 points from those six matches, are 12 points adrift of the play-off positions.
With 14 games left, a top seven finish in probably just beyond Latics’ reach as they are currently in 17th place.
Once they got the Exeter game out of the way on Tuesday (Feb 11), Latics have a run of games against mid or lower table teams – Forest Green Rovers and Newport County at home along with Leyton Orient and Crawley away.
None are in particularly good form and were Latics to post four wins from those matches, a late charge for the play-offs might not be as fanciful as it once appeared.
As mid-season transfer window goes, it was remarkably active for Latics with six signings and eight players leaving
Latics’ lack of firepower was addressed by the signing of AFC Fylde’s Danny Rowe, a player with a prolific goalscoring record in non-league.
They also brought in former Manchester United striker Zak Dearnley, a free agent since leaving the Reds last summer, and Mani Dieseruvwe, a front man on loan from Salford City.
The defence was strengthened by the loan captures of Carl Piergianni (Salford) and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson (Manchester United) and midfield by the loan of Burnley midfielder Christian N’Guessan while former Burnley midfielder Chris McCann, who had been on a short-term deal, agreed a new contract to the end of next season.
A huge playing squad has been lightened by the release of Ashley Smith-Brown and Gregor Zabret whose loans were cut short during the January window.
Midfielder David Jones and striker Jean-Louis Akpa Akro, both on short-term deals, were released as were midfielder Chris Eagles, striker Urko Vera, defender Sonhy Sefil and young pro Harry Robinson.