Late Oldham goal denies U's win

COLCHESTER United were denied a first ever victory at their new Weston Homes Community Stadium, after conceding a late equaliser to high-flying Oldham.

Carl Marston

Colchester United 2 Oldham Athletic 2

COLCHESTER United were denied a first ever victory at their new Weston Homes Community Stadium, after conceding a late equaliser to high-flying Oldham.

Latics substitute Dean Smalley swept home an 88th minute equaliser. Dean Gerken was unconvincing in his punch from Neal Eardley's free-kick, and Smalley was able to divert home Lee Hughes' low pass.

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It was hard luck on Colchester, and particularly Mark Yeates, who had scored twice to put the U's 2-0 up just after the hour mark.

Yeates struck with the opener just three minutes before half-time. His volley from a tight angle eluded Mark Crossley and sneaked in at the far post.

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And Yeates appeared to have made the game safe in the 63rd minute, after again hitting the target with a spectacular shot from the edge of the penalty area.

However, Oldham halved the deficit just 60 seconds later, via Chris Taylor's clinical low drive, from the left edge of the box. And substitute Smalley salvaged a point for the visitors late on.

The U's were without the injured trio of leading scorer Steven Gillespie (tweaked hamstring), centre-half Paul Reid (groin injury) and left-back Matt Lockwood (tendonitis in his knee).

Club skipper Chris Coyne was therefore partnering Matt Heath at the back, with Phil Ifil at left-back and Clive Platt alongside ex-Oldham striker Scott Vernon up front.

Congestion at the ticket office meant that the kick-off was delayed for 10 minutes.

League leaders Oldham were on the rack early on, and midfielder Mark Allott was booked after just eight minutes for clipping the heels of Kem Izzet.

It was all-square, as far as yellow cards were concerned, when referee Paul Taylor booked John White for a late challenge on Kelvin Lomax on 14 minutes.

Oldham's first effort on target was a long-range shot from striker Lee Hughes. Dean Gerken made sure that he got his whole body behind the shot to save with a degree of comfort.

Vernon nearly scored against his old club in the 18th minute. He watched as his powerful header from eight yards out dropped narrowly over the bar.

Ex-Nottingham Forest keeper Mark Crossley showed that he still had a turn of speed, although he only just beat Platt to Yeates' excellent through ball in the 25th minute. It was touch-and-go, but the 39-year-old managed to shepherd the ball to safety.

Chances were at a premium. A free-kick by Coyne did cause Oldham problems in the 37th minute, because Platt managed to win the header, but the ball would not fall kindly for the onrushing Johnnie Jackson.

A minute later and veteran striker Lee Hughes was the third player to be booked, for a series of niggling fouls, the latest on Heath.

The Latics were unlucky not to break the deadlock in the 39th minute. Liddell let fly from Danny Whitaker's lay-off with a thunderous long-range shot that beat Gerken, but rebounded off the bar and bounced to safety.

Instead, it was the U's who were to score the first ever competitive goal at the Community Stadium, thanks to a fantastic strike from YEATES in the 42nd minute.

The Irishman gave Crossley no chance with an angled low drive, with his right boot, that flew past the Latics keeper and nestled in at the far corner of the net.

A minute later and Yeates was booked for chopping down Chris Taylor near the touch-line.

Half-time: Colchester 1 Oldham 0

Mr Taylor handed out his fifth yellow card after just two minutes of the second half. Anthony Wordsworth was booked for dissent.

Yeates was not far off scoring a second goal in the 55th minute. He charged onto Vernon's lay-off, but crashed his shot over the bar from a narrow angle.

But it does not take long for YEATES to double his tally, with another quality finish in the 63rd minute. The ex-Tottenham winger gave Crossley no hope with a thumping shot from the edge of the box that flew like a bullet into the roof of the net.

However, Oldham responded quickly. Just a minute later and TAYLOR halved the deficit by firing a low shot into the far corner of the net, from a tight angle, after the winger had been released by Hughes down the left flank.

The U's were within inches of restoring their two-goal lead in the 68th minute, but Platt's header from Yeates' cross rebounded back off the far post.

Sunday Wasiu replaced Vernon as a 69th minute substitute, and David Perkins came on for Wordsworth just four minutes later.

Oldham forced the pace and Hughes diverted a cross from Neal Eardley over the bar from a dangerous position in the 83rd minute.

The U's were denied all three points in the 88th minute, when substitute SMALLEY slotted home from close in, after Gerken had failed to get enough power behind his punch from Eardley's free-kick.


COLCHESTER UNITED: Gerken 7, White 7, Heath 7, Coyne 7, Ifil 6, YEATES 9, Jackson 7, Izzet 8, Wordsworth 7 (sub Perkins, 73), Platt 7, Vernon 6 (sub Wasiu, 69). Unused subs: Hammond, Elito, Cousins.

OLDHAM ATHLETIC: Crossley 7, Eardley 7, Hazell 7, Gregan 7, Lomax 6, Liddell 7 (sub Smalley, 82), Allott 6, Whitaker 7, TAYLOR 8, Hughes 6, Alessandra 6 (sub O'Grady, 80). Unused subs: Stam, Maher, Fleming.

Referee: Mr Paul Taylor (Herts)

Attendance: 4,708

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