DINO Maamria is trying to bring the magic of knockout football to League Two after he saw his Oldham side come from behind to gain a vital 2-1 win over fellow strugglers Crawley Town.

The visitors had taken the lead through Lewis Young's 17th minute opener, but the Latics stormed back after the break as a David Wheater header and a fine finish from Mohamed Maouche secured the three points.

And the Latics boss gave a clear hint of how he had prepared his side for a win that lifts them level on points with Crawley in 20th.

“It was almost like a cup game in that it was a game we couldn't afford not to win,” he said.

“We'd only won four games all season and this was something I highlighted to my players before the game.

“We've worked together for six months and whoever the manager is four games in six months isn't good enough, so my emphasis today was all about winning and we managed to do that.

“I thought we started OK in the first half and had a few attempts on goal, but I was very disappointed about how we conceded the first goal.

“We sat off them a little bit and didn't show that intensity in closing the space down.

“At half time I got into one or two of the players about being better and playing with more purpose and I thought the lads showed a fantastic attitude in the second half.

“I put a lot of pressure on them at half time and I've told them that's my job and that they had to produce more and to be fair to them they did.”

Oldham began the game strongly and it was the hosts who carved out the first chance on 11 minutes when Chris McCann's excellent through ball found Desire Segbe Azankpo running clear of the Crawley defence, only for the striker to dither and allow Jordan Tunnicliffe to produce a fine saving tackle.

But just after the quarter hour mark the game turned on its head as Crawley made their first incursion into the Oldham area and ended up with a goal as the hosts’ defence let Young waltz through their centre and pass a left foot shot beyond Zeus De La Paz.

Maouche had the Latics' first effort on target 36 minutes in, Glenn Morris spilling but Jean Louis Akpa Akpro, who was substituted soon after, was slow to follow up.

Minutes later Oldham wasted another opportunity to level when after a period of pinball in the Crawley six-yard box, Azankpo placed a header wide of the post.  

Oldham had to improve after the break and within five minutes of the restart they were level when Wheater rose well to meet a Jonny Smith corner and power a header past Morris.

Even better was to follow 10 minutes later when a flowing attacking move resulted in Scott Wilson playing in Maouche who shot calmly beyond Morris to give the Latics the lead.

Morris saved well from Maouche as Oldham looked for a decisive third and with 10 minutes left Wilson broke clear only to fire over, ensuring a nervy six minutes of added time before the Latics could celebrate Christmas in style.

But Maamria knows that, in future, they risk getting burned when failing to put games to bed.

“We scored two good goals but I'm a bit disappointed we didn't get a third,” he added.

“They could have had a chance at the end and if they had scored to make it 2-2 it would have been a travesty because we totally dominated the half and had 20 shots and we needed more goals in a game like this."

Oldham Athletic (4-4-2): Zeus De La Paz 6; Zak Mills 5, Tom Hamer 6, David Wheater 6, Alex Iacovitti 5; Mohammed Maouche 6 (Chris Eagles 82, 5), Chris McCann 6, Mohammad Sylla 5, Jonny Smith 7; Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro 4 (Scott Wilson 37, 6), Desire Segbe Azankpo 5 (Tomas Egert 89, n/a)

Susbtitutes not used: Gary Woods, Ashley Smith-Brown, Dylan Fage, Kielen Adams

Crawley Town (4-4-2): Glenn Morris; Lewis Young, Jordan Tunnicliffe, Joe McNerney, Josh Doherty; Beryly Lubala, Dannie Bulman, Nathan Ferguson, Ashley Nathaniel-George (Panutche Camara 83); Ollie Palmer, Tarryn Allarakhia (Mason Bloomfield 68)

Substitutes not used: Alfie Jones, Thomas Dallison, George Francomb, Jamie Sendles-White, Brian Galach

Referee: Martin Coy

Attendance: 2,737