Dave Artell saluted Crewe’s resilience after they collected their 25th point from a losing position this season.
Charlie Kirk’s winner in the seventh minute of stoppage time summed up the Railwaymen’s determined streak as they clinched another comeback win which moved them to within two points of Sky Bet League Two leaders Swindon.
After an undistinguished first half, Jonny Smith shocked the frontrunners when he tucked away Gevaro Nepomuceno’s low cross in the 48th minute. But James Jones’ drive squirmed out of the hands of goalkeeper Zeus De La Paz for a leveller six minutes later.
While Crewe looked the most likely of the two sides to score, they lacked quality in the final third until Kirk cut inside two defenders on a mazy run to finish into the bottom corner.
Artell said: “I thought there was only one team trying to win the game at the end. It was late but we knew Oldham have a tendency to concede late goals.
“It was a great piece of skill from Charlie. He has critics who say he doesn’t head some balls, but give me a toss up between a winger who heads the ball and one who can do that in the last minute – I’ll take him all the time.
“Credit to the referee too, for adding the seven minutes for the subs, injuries and time-wasting. I said to their staff that it could bite them on the backside and it did.
“We’ve taken 25 points from coming from behind in games. But there is still a long way to do, there’s a third of the season left and we are not getting excited about anything yet.”
Crewe laboured to make a mark in the box although home debutant Stephen Walker, on loan from Middlesbrough, was a bright stand-in for Daniel Powell who pulled up injured in the warm-up.
Kirk went close twice early on for Crewe, while Oldham’s best effort was a shot from distance from midfielder Tom Hamer which just missed the bottom corner. But Oli Finney wasted Crewe’s best first-half opening when screwing his shot wide after being put clear on the left of the box.
Veteran striker Chris Porter was thrown on for his first action after a two-month lay-off in a bid to win the game, but it was fellow substitute Callum Ainley who lit the spark in the closing stages forcing De La Paz to turn an effort around the post.
But with time running out, Kirk conjured a fine winner which ended Oldham’s six-game unbeaten run and left boss Dino Maamria frustrated with his team’s second-half showing.
“It is a tough one to take to lose the unbeaten run in such a cruel way,” said Maamria.
“We tried to impose ourselves, we didn’t come here to defend. But our ball retention was poor compared to our last two games and we didn’t cause Crewe enough problems. The second half went away from us – we put the ball in forward areas but didn’t get hold of it.
“They were poor goals. We knew Crewe’s strengths particularly on the left side, but for their second he (Kirk) went through three bodies.”