DINO Maamria says his Oldham Athletic side did not deserve to be on the receiving end of a 4-1 mauling by near neighbours Salford City but must improve on their sloppy defending if they want to get back to winning ways in the new year.

Oldham began the game full of confidence following back-to-back wins over Christmas, but two first-half goals from Jake Jervis and a third from Brandon Thomas-Asante put the game beyond Latics before the latter completed his brace early in the second half.

Latics had a chance to stage a comeback in the second-half but Filipe Morais missed a spot kick in the 52nd minute and Desire Segbe Azankpo’s goal on the hour-mark proved nothing but a consolation.

“Funnily enough, I thought it was one of our best halves all season,” said Maamria.

“When you go in at half-time three down you can’t believe it.

“It was a tough afternoon and I’m disappointed for the fans, but I didn’t think it was a 4-1 game – we had 22 shots and 60 per cent of possession.

“We started well but we gifted them the first goal. It was a really poor goal to concede – there was no power in the shot and Zeus knows he should have saved it.”

The hosts’ miserable afternoon started after a quarter of an hour when a break down the left found Jervis advancing in off the wing and shooting low from the edge of the area beyond an unsighted Zeus De La Paz.

One minute later the lead was doubled in near identical circumstances when a ball over the top from Craig Conway reached Thomas-Asante down the left before the striker shot low past De La Paz.

Maamria did not shy away from blaming his goalkeeper for gifting the visitors victory but is confident that De La Paz is still the right man to have between the sticks at Oldham.

“We gave them a second goal from kick-off and when you gift a side two goals it’s always going to be difficult, especially when they start playing to their strength which is the counter attack,” he said.

“Mistake happens and Zeus has been a fantastic goalkeeper since he came in. He’s always been a number two and now he’s a number one and I’ve told him he needs to learn that from today he is a number one keeper.

“He knows that and he’s a work in progress, but he is a fantastic goalkeeper and he will play in the next game.”

It was a hammer blow Oldham never looked like recovering from and their day got worse when Tomas Egert was carried off soon afterwards with Dylan Fage coming on in the 23rd minute.

After briefly threatening to stage a comeback, Oldham were punished for a third time with another counter attacking move from Salford as Conway again turned provider chipping a fine cross to the far post where Jervis rose unchallenged to head past the helpless De La Paz.

If half time offered some brief respite it was short lived as three minutes after the break Thomas-Asante made it four after a cross from the left by Ibou Touray.

With damage limitation the order of the day, Oldham were offered the chance for a consolation when Morais drew a foul from Oscar Threlkeld only to see his weak spot kick saved by Chris Neal.

An Oldham goal duly arrived on the hour-mark when a great cross from Zak Mills was met by Segbe Azankpo who powered a header beyond Neal, but that was as good as it got for the Latics as the Ammies closed out the game with some ease at Boundary Park.

Oldham Athletic: Zeus De La Paz 5; Zak Mills 6, Tom Hamer 5, David Wheater 6, Tomas Egert 5 (Dylan Fage 23, 6); Jonny Smith 5, Mohamad Sylla 6, Chris McCann 5 (Scott Wilson 61, 5), Desire Segbe Azankpo 6; Mohamed Maouche 5 Filipe Morais 5 (Chris Eagles 64, 5)

Substitutes not used: Gary Woods, Kielen Adams, Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro, Zac Emmerson.

Salford City: Chris Neal; Oscar Threlkeld, Liam Hogan, Cameron Burgess, Ibou Touray; Jake Jervis, Richie Towell, Joseph Jones (Lois Maynard 45), Craig Conway (Luke Armstrong 88); Brandon Thomas-Asante, Adam Rooney (Daniel Whitehead 82)

Substitutes not used: Kyle Letheren, Carl Piergianni, Samuel Hughes

Referee: Darren Handley

Attendance: 5,279