Flashback 1992-93: Dazzler Dalian makes point at Oldham
Paper: Birmingham Post
Ron Atkinson is toying with the idea of using Earl Barrett in midfield at Oldham on Saturday although the last time the idea was mooted - for the first match of the season at Ipswich - Barrett played in the right-back position he has occupied all season.
However, injuries to Garry Parker and Steve Froggatt could open the way for the former Oldham centre-half to occupy a holding role in the middle on his first return to Boundary Park.
"He relishes the midfield role and I know he can do a job in there," Atkinson said. "But I don't want to disrupt anything if I can help it."
Atkinson has retained the same back four throughout the League season but he may make a change with the inclusion of Bryan Small at left-back, allowing Steve Staunton to take Froggatt's place on the left side of midfield.
His alternative is to play Dwight Yorke wide on the left and perhaps bring Mark Blake into midfield. The young midfielder scored with a memorable volley at Oldham last season.
Paper: Sunday Mercury
Dalian Atkinson saved Villa's bacon - and their fine unbeaten run - with a dazzling late equaliser at Boundary Park yesterday.
Ian Olney, released from Villa Park as unwanted goods during the summer, appeared to have embarrassed his old boss Ron Atkinson with a sweet 19th-minute header to set Oldham on their way to a surprise victory.
But the Atkinsons had the last laugh with Dalian repaying another slice of his huge £1.6million fee with a superb 82nd minute equaliser.
Atkinson's precise header from a cross supplied by co-striker Dean Saunders was the reward Villa richly deserved for a display quite untypical of their recent exhilarating form.
Atkinson's men were forced to scrap for a point against Joe Royle's Oldham side that gave no quarter in their attempt to pull away from the bottom half of the Premier League.
Villa have loftier ambitions these days and if they are to go on to take the championship, Atkinson and his team's army of supporters will look back on points secured like this.
Villa's early promise with Saunders drilling a low left-footed rive straight at keeper Jon Hallworth, was wiped out by Olney.
He was perfectly positioned, virtually on the goalline, to add the final touch to a Steve Redmond corner which was headed back across the face of the goal by Graeme Sharp.
Olney celebrated his goal with the glee of a man delighted to have poked a finger in his former manager's eye.
But Villa shook off the blow to threaten an equaliser on several occasions.
Atkinson drifted a header at Hallworth in the 34th minute from Earl Barrett's searching centre and then Paul McGrath shrugged off his defensive duties to fire a low drive at the keeper in the 39th.
Villa kept up their probing in as neat a style as they could manage against hard-running Oldham at the start of the second half.
But Dwight Yorke looked to have wasted his side's best chance of an equaliser 12 minutes after the break.
Hallworth was forced into his only error of the match when he dropped Saunders' cross under no pressure at the near post. But Yorke could only sidefoot tamely against Richard Jobson.
Ray Houghton was a constant threat to Oldham who were relying more on the counter-attack.
Nigel Spink had to react quickly to prevent Sharp from stretching Oldham's lead in the 61st minute.
And then Houghton somehow almost squeezed an equaliser out of nothing in the 70th minute, tricking his way past three Oldham challenges before Hallworth foiled him.
With time running out and Villa's unbeaten record heading for the dustbin, Atkinson struck with deadly precision.
Saunders' tireless running created the opening and his right-wing cross was guided beyond Hallworth by a fine Atkinson header.
OLDHAM: Hallworth, Halle, Pointin, Henry, Jobson, Redmond, Olney, Marshall, Sharp, Milligan, Bernard. Subs: Adams, McDonald, Keeley.
VILLA: Spink, Barrett, Staunton, Teale, McGrath, Richardson, Houghton, Yorke, Saunders, Atkinson, Small. Subs: Blake, Farrell, Bosnich.
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