Oldham 2 City 1

SO MUCH for putting dry January behind us.

"Every little thing's gonna be all right," sang a defiant away end, where just under 2,000 City fans gave it their all.

But it seems that it's going to take more than turning over the calendar to restore any kind of normality to a season that continues to hurtle downhill.

A fifth League One loss on the bounce equals the run at the start of Stuart McCall's rookie year in management.

A sixth in total makes it the worst since Nicky Law's post-administration class of 2002 were beaten seven in a row.

Law survived that, although admittedly City were in no financial position to make a change even if they had wanted to.

So too Phil Parkinson with that dreadful 19-match sequence with only one win in the first season following promotion.

McCall's post-match stance in the gloom of Boundary Park was unshaken. In his eyes, he remains the figurehead who will drag the club out of this current malaise. But he is acutely aware that the clock keeps ticking.

There were suggestions that the owners had contemplated his position after the Rotherham loss, when the players appeared to pack up once the second goal was conceded.

That frustration appeared to be smoothed over, even when Wimbledon gleefully rattled in four without reply at Valley Parade.

Now we face another long week after the run was extended by an equally ordinary Oldham side, albeit one boosted by a wonder strike from a defender with only one previous senior goal.

That was an indicator that your luck's out – especially on a day when scoring first was going to be huge, given the fragile confidence levels of both teams.

At least, the players are still firmly in their manager's corner. On the eve of his return from a two-month injury absence, keeper Colin Doyle had said any decision to remove McCall would be "stupid".

You sense those sentiments are echoed around the dressing room. There is no hint that his instructions and advice are beginning to fall on deaf ears.

In fact, it was the reaction in the changing room after their latest loss which helped ease McCall's disappointment. To him, they did not sound like a beaten bunch only looking for scapegoats and excuses.

That is the hope he will carry towards the pivotal game against Bury at Valley Parade this weekend – a "must, must, must" win occasion, as he put it.

The mischievous fixture list has only increased the drama. It was after a home loss to the Shakers in early February 2010 that McCall made the emotional call to sever his ties with the club last time.

Surely history will not repeat itself against the rock-bottom opponents, whose ranks now include a certain James Hanson.

Edin Rahic and Stefan Rupp are under scrutiny from supporters after a frustrating transfer window. Many feel they should have done more to back their manager at a time when City were in such a commanding position.

That advantage in the play-off places has been eroded by this spectacular slide. The Bantams are only clinging on to the top six by virtue of Charlton's late collapse as the pack jostle behind them.

The board have a tough call to make. It appears they will allow McCall this next opportunity to stop the rot but another slip would leave his situation hugely vulnerable.

McCall knows that better than anyone. He had spoken about the need for at least four points from these two games – that has already gone out of the window after Oldham claimed their first win since December 9.

Saturday's clash between the two teams at the bottom of League One's form table was never going to be pretty on another pitch that would have embarrassed Valley Parade.

Head of recruitment Greg Abbott, another suffering the acute pain of the club's fall from grace, called it the stage for a "dirty" win to get City going again.

He was not wrong in his description of a contest that did not lack for endeavour but was woefully short in quality.

City's display was arguably the best of a particularly bad bunch of late. But then, the bar has been set very low.

At least McCall could operate with a side that had a proper feel about it. There were six changes from the woe of Wimbledon; a couple enforced, most through design.

Fresher faces, without the baggage of January, brought fresh life – at least that was the plan.

It was reassuring to see the presence of Doyle and Tony McMahon in the backline, even if the hunt for that elusive next clean sheet now stretches to a 15th game.

Ryan McGowan, in his first competitive outing for a couple of months, was the pick with a debut which demonstrated that he can be a major defensive asset.

Stephen Warnock showed his experience and steeliness will be equally important in reviving this campaign.

But Matty Lund, like the rest of the midfield, found it hard to make any impression before injury forced him off early.

Romain Vincelot again looked a shadow of the strong character we have to come to expect; Shay McCartan only got involved in fits and starts; Callum Guy disappointed in his first chance in his natural central role.

And Charlie Wyke, lacking the service from a team minus a fit winger, was kept in check by the no-nonsense Anthony Gerrard.

City went at it with wing-backs and Adam Chicksen should have been the early hero when McCartan and Wyke flicked on into his path ten yards out.

But his panicky miss was soon compounded by the spectacular effort from Oldham defender Cameron Dummigan.

Doyle was undone by a right back last season when Brian Wilson beat him with a wicked bobble. There was nothing iffy about Dummigan's finish as he let rip from 30 yards, the ball crashing past the keeper and in off the bar. Lund maybe could have closed down the shooting chance but it was a peach of a strike.

Doyle saved crucially from Duckens Nazon, the surface helping him this time as it took the sting off the striker's attempt when through. Yet City's comeback attempts lacked conviction.

As gaps appeared, Oldham struck a late second when Aaron Amadi-Holloway headed home.

City did pull one back when Jordan Gibson's cross-shot was fumbled into the net at the near post by Johny Placide.

Seeing the keeper's unconvincing efforts merely rammed home the message that he should have been tested a lot more. That was one of only two shots on target.

Dominic Poleon wasting a last-gasp opportunity, slicing horribly high and wide, put the lid on it. There appears no quick-fix for this mess.