OLDHAM’s winless run in League Two stretched to five games as Port Vale’s Tom Pope condemned them to a narrow defeat at Boundary Park.

Vale’s Pope scored the only goal of a scrappy with a first-half penalty following defender Peter Clarke’s needless challenge on Luke Hannant.

The Latics had two penalty shouts of their own and Vale’s Connor Rawlinson headed against his own crossbar but the home side couldn’t force an equaliser.

Oldham boss Frankie Bunn initially made three changes to the side that won away at Braford in midweek as Daniel Iverson, Rob Hunt and Jose Baxter came in for Zeus de la Paz, Andy Taylor and Sam Surridge.

However, Mohamed Mouche picked up an injury in the warm-up, so a fourth alteration was made as Johan Branger-Engone was promoted from the bench.

The game began in a scrappy fashion, with the only early action of note coming via an off-the-ball fracas between George Edmundson and Hannant, both men picking up a yellow card for their troubles.

Hannant was involved again in the 12th minute, this time floating a dangerous cross into the Latics’ box that forced Iverson into a fantastic double save from Leon Legge and Nathan Smith.

Oldham lacked purpose in the opening quarter but Callum Lang perked up the home crowd somewhat with a curling effort from outside the box that went narrowly over the Vale crossbar.

It was the Latics who had the next meaningful effort as Dan Gardner unleashed a half-volley from 25 yards that stung the palms of visiting goalkeeper Scott Brown.

However, it was the away side who took the lead in the 38th minute.

With seemingly little danger on the horizon, Clarke collided with Hannant inside the box and Vale captain Pope converted the penalty with ease as he sent Iverson the wrong way.

Oldham had a penalty shout of their own just before half-time whistle – but this time, referee Peter Wright waved away strong appeals as Lang went down after a challenge from Legge.

The home side brought on Gevaro Nepomuceno at the start of the second half – and he made a positive impact almost straight away as his excellent corner from the right was headed onto the underside of the bar by Vale defender Rawlinson.

Unfortunately, for Bunn’s side, the ball didn’t cross the line and the visitors’ lead remained intact.

The home side continued to press but found it hard to create clear-cut chances, with striker Chris O’Grady unable to beat Brown with Oldham’s next effort on goal.

Substitute Nepomuceno put in another good delivery on 76 minutes but Clarke couldn’t make up for his earlier mistake and put his effort wide.

Oldham had another penalty appeal turned down as the game approached injury time when Edmundson was pulled by a Vale defender as the ball came into the box from a free-kick.

Oldham continued to put pressure on the away defence but the visitors, who conceded six as they lost to Lincoln last weekend, were resolute and held on to frustrate Bunn’s Latics.

Oldham: Iverson 7, Edmundson 7, Lyden 6 (Benteke 70 5), Gardner 6, Baxter 6, O’Grady 6, Lang 6, Hunt 7, Clarke 5, Branger-Engone 5 (Nepomuceno 46 7), Hamer 6 Unused substitutes: Dummigan, Missilou, Graham, McFarlane Port Vale: Brown, Joyce, Legge, Pope, Hannant (Dodds 81), Rawlinson, Smith, Vassell, Conlon, Clark (Gibbons 85), Whitfield (Kanu 75) Substitutes: Kay, Worrall, Hornby, Hardcastle.

Referee: Peter Wright Attendance: 4,323