Goalkeeper Mark Oxley earned the praise of his manager after helping Oldham Athletic to a 1-0 victory over Gillingham.

Oxley, on a season-long loan from Hull City, made a string of impressive saves as the Latics earned a precious win to move them five points clear of the relegation zone.

Myles Weston had already been denied by Oxley when Oldham snatched their winning goal after 33 minutes as Gary Harkins drilled a shot inside the far post from David Worrall's right-wing cross.

Jon Stead saw a shot hit a post for the Latics but at the other end Oxley continued to keep the visitors at bay, repelling efforts from Joe Pigott, Adebayo Akinfenwa and Cody McDonald. The save from McDonald was a superb stop coming in the final seconds of injury time.

Oldham boss Lee Johnson said: "Mark really proved his worth and he was my man of the match.

"I'm really pleased for him because he has got better as the season has gone on and it's important that your goalkeeper earns you points.

"He deserved his clean sheet in a game that we knew would be tough.

"Gillingham came here with a 4-5-1 formation, going for the draw, and sometimes you have to graft out your results.

"It was tight, tense and edgy because all the lads knew the importance of this game and we were up against a team trying to lock it down.

"It was a tough one on the heart. I'd like us to play nice football every week, but the win is very important and for a couple of games at least we can start looking up the table and aiming for halfway.

"Gary Harkins scored an excellent goal for us, but when he gets the ball in that sort of area you always know something might happen.

"We've got another tough game against MK Dons on Tuesday and we'll probably have to play better, but this should give us confidence."

Gillingham boss Peter Taylor bemoaned a mix of bad luck and wayward finishing.

He said: "I can't believe we didn't win.

"We had a lot more chances than the opposition, but their goalkeeper made some wonderful saves.

"There were occasions when our finishing wasn't good enough, but it was good in the second half and their keeper had a 'worldy'.

"We played a lot of good football and made a lot of chances, but we didn't have a great deal of luck in front of goal.

"We made changes to our team, but we had an extremely disappointing second half (against Sheffield United) two-and-a-half days ago so we needed to take advantage of our squad.

"We needed fresh legs and the players agreed. People might say Peter Taylor picked the wrong team because we lost, but our performance didn't show that.

"The players who came into the side did some good things. If we are going to stay in this division it will be down to the whole squad, not just 11 players."