Perhaps the missing thousands knew something the rest of us didn’t.
Just 4,226 – Wolves’ lowest home gate in the FA Cup since 1895 – braved the freezing temperatures and ignored England v Germany on the box to watch this.
And at the end of it, the only relief was that it was all over and that Wolves have saved their poorest performances this season for the cups.
Last night’s surrender to a far superior, slicker Oldham was as deserved as it was limp.
It’s not even the end of November and Wolves are out of all three cup competitions. So there can be no excuses for Kenny Jackett and his players not concentrating on promotion.
But had they played in League One as they did here, Wolves would already be out of the race. They have now exited the Cup at the first hurdle for the third season in a row.
Leigh Griffiths’s 11th goal of the season, with almost the last kick, ended the game on a brighter note.
But Jackett’s side were second best from the off and never looked like recovering as strikes by Danny Philliskirk and substitute Adam Rooney secured Oldham a second round tie at home to League Two Mansfield.
Oldham started the better and were denied in the seventh minute when keeper Carl Ikeme foiled Philliskirk with a superb block after makeshift right-back Korey Smith split the home defence.
Jackett described Wolves as “wooden” and, without their usual penetration from the full-backs – Ethan Ebanks-Landell and George Elokobi offered next to nothing going forward – they fashioned their only chance of the first half when man of the match Kevin McDonald’s blistering angled volley was acrobatically tipped around the post by Mark Oxley in the 14th minute.
Wolves’ struggles were typified by the uncomfortable Elokobi, who was booked for the free-kick that led to Oldham taking a 20th-minute lead.
The powerful left-back was caught the wrong side of the lively Jonson Clarke-Harris and pushed him to the ground.
From the resulting free-kick, Clarke-Harris’s well-struck curling effort seemed to be well held by Ikeme only for the keeper to drop it under no pressure and see Philliskirk prod home the loose ball.
Referee Keith Stroud initially appeared to whistle for a Wolves free-kick, then looked up to see his assistant flagging for the goal and seemed to change his mind.
Oldham went close to extending their lead seven minutes from the break when James Tarkowski headed inches over from Anton Rodgers’ corner.
Booed off at the break, Wolves made two changes at half-time as Jackett sent on Sam Ricketts and Zeli Ismail for the ineffective Ebanks-Landell and Elokobi. But the move failed to pay dividends as Oldham continued to look the more dangerous side.
The impressive Clarke-Harris somehow squeezed in a 48th-minute shot across Ricketts which brought a good reflex save from Ikeme.
The keeper then made a superb stop in the 51st minute, blocking with his legs to deny Philliskirk from point-blank range after the striker had exchanged passes with Clarke-Harris and run into the box.
Wolves, through the never-say-die Griffiths, finally bared their teeth as the hour approached.
The Scot got a lucky bounce as he beat two defenders in the 54th minute but could only shoot straight at Oxley. Three minutes later he dug out a rising effort on the turn that flashed a foot over after peeling away at the far post when Ismail’s cross was cleared.
Wolves struggled to maintain the initiative, however, and if they thought their worries had ended with the substitution of the livewire Clarke-Harris for Rooney, they were sadly mistaken.
Sigurdarson blazed well over after wriggling into a good position 22 yards out, but Oldham returned fire in clinical fashion. First Philliskirk smacked a shot against the post with Ikeme beaten, then Oldham deservedly made it 2-0 in stunning style in the 73rd minute.
Rooney hit a superb angled strike from the right of the box into the far bottom corner after fellow sub Sidney Schmeltz broke down the right and switched play.
Substitute Lee Evans forced a save as Wolves showed some urgency and Griffiths hit the post in the third minute of added time before halving the deficit a minute later when he stabbed home Scott Golbourne’s cross. But it was too little, too late and the hosts got what they deserved – nothing.Subscribe to our Newsletter