Colchester United slip deeper into relegation mire with home defeat

Colchester United 0 Oldham Athletic 1

Colchester United slipped deeper into the relegation mire with a home defeat at the hands of Oldham Athletic this afternoon.

An unfortunate own goal by Tom Eastman, in the last minute of the first half, proved costly for the U’s, who had already missed a hat-ful of chances to break the deadlock.

It was a harsh result on the U’s, but once again missed scoring opportunities ultimately proved their downfall.

The Latics, who are now unbeaten in six games and also four points clear of the U’s, got their noses in front in the 45th minute.


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Right-back Connor Brown sneaked his way into the penalty area and although the angle was acute, his intended cross struck Eastman’s boot and looped up and over a despairing Sam Walker to drop into the net.

The U’s could not fashion an equaliser during a frustrating second period, and so now have just three matches left to save themselves from relegation, starting with a trip to relegation rivals Crewe on Easter Monday.

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The U’s should really have taken the lead inside the first three minutes, but an unmarked Alex Gilbgey scooped a free header over the bar from Freddie Sears’ inch-perfect corner.

United continued to press and Sanchez Watt tested Paul Rachubka with an eighth minute free kick which sailed into the safe hands of the Latics keeper.

A minute later and a slick corner routine gave Sears a half-chance, only for the ex-West Ham attacker to slice his 20-yarder horribly wide of target.

Sears was giving Oldham no end of problems. He managed to control a long ball forward by Tom Eastman, on the edge of the six yard box, before firing a shot on the turn which was blocked by a defender.

On 15 minutes, Massey failed to seriously trouble Rachubka with a weak header, and Watt’s low cross then flew across the face of goal with Ibehre unable to divert home.

Marcus Bean squandered a gilt-edged chance to break the deadlock in the 18th minute. He powered onto Massey’s lay-off, only to blast his shot over the bar with just Rachubka to beat, although the angle was tight.

It was one-way traffic, but the U’s were lacking the killer touch. Jabo Ibehre was teed up by another Massey delivery in the 20th minute, although the big man could not direct his free header past Rachubka.

Oldham began to inch their way into the contest, around the half-hour mark, without posing much of a threat, Gary Harkins crashing in a long-range shot that was comfortably charged down.

Ibhere was chopped down by defender James Wilson, in a dangerous position on 40 minutes. Skipper Brian Wilson, back in the side after illness, curled the free-kick over the defensive wall, but Rachubka clutched the ball to his chest.

And it was the visitors who got their noses in front on the stroke of half-time, Brown’s intended low cross ricocheting off Eastman’s boot, the ball rearing up to elude Walker’s grasp.

The U’s squandered a hat-trick of chances around the 50-minute mark. A teasing cross by Massey bounced awkwardly in front of Watt, on the edge of the six-yard box, and Massey then had a low drive deflected narrowly wide of the near post.

From Sears’ ensuing corner, Ibehre could not capitalise with a close-range volley at the far upright.

It was getting frantic for the hosts, and Gilbey was unlucky to see his 20-yarder cannon off a defender and loop over the bar on 65 minutes.

Substitute Dominic Vose made a positive impact, on his introduction with 18 minutes remaining.

Vose was not far adrift with an opportunist long-range shot that soared a foot wide of the far post, and he then set up Massey with a delightful cross-field pass in the 79th minute. Massey’s final shot was deflected wide of goal.

Vose again caused a stir on 83 minutes with a ferocious shot that looked destined for the net until it struck defender Jonathan Grounds and flew to safety.

But Oldham held on to their slender lead to snatch a vital three points.

Squads

COLCHESTER: Walker, Wilson, Okuonghae, Eastman, Wynter (sub Morrison, 88), Bean, Gilbey (sub Gilbey, 88), Massey, Ibehre, Watt (sub Vose, 72), Sears. Unused subs: Cousins, Dickson, Eastmond, Olufemi.

OLDHAM: Rachubka, Brown, Wilson, Lockwood, Grounds, Worrall, Wesolowski, Smith, Harkins, Philliskirk, Clarke-Harris. Unused subs: Coleman, MacDonald, Dayton, Gafaiti, Byrom, Mellor, Millar.

Referee: C Berry (Surrey)

Attendance: 4,252

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