Sheffield United were forced to settle for a share of the spoils at Boundary Park this afternoon despite playing against 10 men for much of the second-half.
Oldham Athletic’s Jonathan Burn received his marching orders just past the hour mark but, try as they might, Nigel Adkins’ side could not claim the winning goal.
Billy Sharp and Stefan Scougall both went close - the latter only denied by the woodwork after being picked-out by his team mate - but the hosts showed determination and tenacity to hold on.
Danny Philliskirk, the former United centre-forward, had given David Dunn’s men the lead after a defensive lapse from Mike Jones’ corner before Matt Done levelled.
Adkins changed United’s shape and personnel in an effort to force the issue following Burn’s departure and, in the first minute of added time, Che Adams warmed the goalkeeper’s gloves with a rasping long-range drive. But Oldham’s rearguard, despite some nervous moments, survived.
With the score still deadlocked at the break, United nearly took the lead when Neill Collins, having seen his first attempt smothered, saw a second gathered by David Cornell when Oldham failed to clear in convincing fashion. It marked the start of a decent period of pressure from the visitors with Done only inches away from scoring again only to see his low shot fly past the goalkeeper but agonisingly wide of the far post.
Burn walked in the 62nd minute after being booked for the second time for a foul on Sharp who later inexplicably directed a shot wide from point blank range. Scougall saw an attempt bounce back off the post as United looked to exploit their numerical advantage.
United, making two changes for the visit to Lancashire, had earlier pieced together a promising fifth minute move when Kieran Wallace darted towards the byline before whipping a low cross across the box which was intercepted before it reached Done. Jose Baxter also attempted to pick out the former Rochdale and Barnsley player soon after, this time with a delicate chip from midfield, but the end result was the same.
Burn responded for Oldham with a long-range effort which was deflected behind and, from the corner that followed, Philliskirk headed the hosts in front after his marker was tempted away from the far post. United’s response came in the shape of a free-kick, won by Freeman, a corner and, in between, a shot on the turn from Sharp which was blocked before it could reach Cornell. Midway through the opening period, Sharp nearly turned provider after leaving Oldham’s rearguard trailing in his wake but could not find Done who had ghosted into space on the edge of the area. Carl Winchester fired high and wide following a good Oldham exchange while, at the other end, Baxter miscued badly after United had been awarded a free-kick 10 yards outside the box. Done, though, made a perfect connection when he deservedly drew United level in the 32nd minute. Scougall played a short pass square and, after taking a moment to assess his options, Sharp, unaware he had been adjudged offside, hit the post as United’s momentum grew but Mark Howard saved well to deny Dominic Poleon just before half-time.
Oldham Athletic: Cornell, Wilson, Kelly, Jones (Dieng 66), Poleon (Fuller 66), Philliskirk, Winchester, Burn, Fulton (Wilson 82), Lafferty, Dummigan. Not used: Coleman, Croft, Yeates, Eckersley.
Sheffield United: Howard, Freeman, McGahey, Collins, K Wallace, Basham, Baxter, Scougall (Campbell-Ryce 82), Adams, Sharp, Done (Sammon 62). Not used: Long, Kennedy, Reed, Coutts, Woolford.
Referee: Kevin Wright (Cambridgshire).
Attendance: 5743 (2,111 United fans).