Lucky U's claim victory

Colchester United 1 Oldham Athletic 0COLCHESTER United rode their luck to claim a second 1-0 victory of the week.Danny Batth powered home a 64th minute header from David Prutton's corner, but after that Oldham pushed very hard for an equaliser.

Stuart Watson

Colchester United 1 Oldham Athletic 0

COLCHESTER United rode their luck to claim a second 1-0 victory of the week.

Danny Batth powered home a 64th minute header from David Prutton's corner, but after that Oldham pushed very hard for an equaliser.

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U's keeper Ben Williams made a series of excellent saves in the second half to keep his side in front, while the Latics were also denied by the woodwork twice in this match.

Credit must be given to Colchester's patched up defence though as they held firm to deny the highly-rated strike partnership of Pawel Abbott and Jason Price.

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The win sees the U's move to within a point of second-place Leeds after they found a late equaliser at home against Brighton. Colchester also narrow the gap on league-leaders Norwich after they succumbed to defeat at home against Southampton.

Surprisingly it was a much altered side for the U's from the one which battled to a 1-0 win at Yeovil on Tuesday night.

All three changes were enforced, with Kayode Odejayi (knee) and Magnus Okuonghae (shoulder) both failing late fitness tests and John White unavailable due to personal problems.

With Okuonghae missing his first game of the season, Kemi Izzet was handed the captain's arm band, while teenager Danny Batth took his place in central defence.

Elsewhere, Phil Ifil came in for White at right-back, while Steven Gillespie replaced Odejayi up front.

Oldham manager Dave Penney made just one change to his side following their 1-0 home win over Walsall last weekend, Blackburn loanee Alex Marrow replacing Jim Goodwin at right-back.

Colchester should have taken the lead in the 13th minute of this game when David Prutton's raking ball from the halfway line sent Gillespie through one-on-one. The striker took a split second too long to steady himself though and on-rushing keeper Dean Brill was able to spread himself and make a fine stop.

Oldham's highly-rated strike partnership almost combined perfectly to give the visitors an advantage two minute later, however the left post denied Jason Price's glancing header following Pawel Abbott's pin-point cross.

Colchester tried to use Clive Platt's height to their advantage as the first half wore on, but Oldham dealt with the threat well and crowded him out with up to three players at a time at set-pieces and long-throws.

The visitors posed a slightly greater goal threat at the other end, but the margin by which Oldham were on top was negligible as the interval arrived.

The U's almost broke the deadlock two minutes after the restart following a fine move down the right-hand side. Prutton dinked a superb ball down the line for Gillespie to race on to, but Platt couldn't quite reach his dangerous pull back at the near post.

Colchester had keeper Ben Williams to thank for staying level in the 55th minute though when he made a brave and instinctive save from Pawel Abbott. When Price headed down Marrow's left wing cross it looked a certainty that the in-form Abbott would smash home from all of three yards out, but Williams bravely spread himself at point-blank range to add another breathtaking save to his growing collection.

Colchester broke the deadlock after 64 minutes in simple fashion. Batth made a late run across the box to meet Prutton's in-swinging corner from the left and powerfully headed home his first ever goal in competitive football.

The U's then had Williams to thank for maintaining their narrow advantage on three occasions. Twice he got down quickly to stop low Abbott shots before making a diving save to prevent substitute Joe Colbeck's deflected effort finding the back of the net.

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