Sammie Szmodics pounces early to secure vital away win for Colchester United
Oldham Athletic 0 Colchester United 1
Sammie Szmodics celebrated his fourth goal of the season as Colchester United recorded a valuable away win at play-off chasing Oldham Athletic this afternoon.
Livewire Szmodics netted what proved to be the only goal of the game, after just two minutes, to secure a fifth win on the road this campaign.
As a result, the U’s are now just one point and one place adrift of safety – fifth-from-bottom Coventry did not play today.
The U’s enjoyed the perfect start, going ahead inside two minutes after shooting out of the blocks.
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Having earned two quickfire corners, to put the Latics on the back foot, the hosts struggled to fully clear the second of these, delivered by David Fox.
And the U’s punished them, with the alert Szmodics ghosting in at the far post to squeeze home a low shot from the right-edge of the six-yard box.
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It was Szmodics’s second goal in successive matches, following his consolation in Tuesday night’s 4-1 defeat at Sheffield United.
Szmodics’ latest strike certainly settled down the visitors, while Oldham could not get out of first gear during the first 20 minutes.
It was the U’s threatening again in the 21st minute, with Elliott Hewitt, back in the side after a three-match suspension, delivering a cross into the danger zone.
Ex-U’s skipper Brian Wilson, who had moved to Oldham last summer, was in the right place to head behind for a corner.
From another Fox corner, delivered on 25 minutes, defender Tom Eastman turned to hook in a goal-bound shot that was blocked inside the six-yard box.
The U’s continued to look the sharper, going forward, and man-of-the-moment Szmodics flashed a cross-cum-shot across the face of goal and wide on the half-hour mark.
By contrast, U’s keeper Sam Walker never had a save to make throughout the first half.
In fact, the Latics did not seriously threaten until the third minute of the second period. Jonathan Forte got the better of Sean Clohessy down the flank and delivered a cross which Walker was only able to half-clear. But the follow-up shot by Mike Jones was miscued wide.
At the other end, Latics keeper Kean did well to block Gavin Massey’s angled drive with his legs, down at his near post, before then palming away a rising shot from left-back Matt Briggs.
Walker produced a marvellous save to preserve the U’s slender lead in the 56th minute. The big man was at full stretch to divert Jacob Mellis’ stinging shot around his post.
A minute later and home manager Lee Johnson made a triple change, bringing on substitutes Dominic Poleon, Carl Winchester and Rhys Turner.
Walker came to the U’s rescue in the 64th minute, by racing to the edge of the area to block at the feet of Forte. It was a case of perfect timing.
Into the last 10 minutes and Walker dropped to his right to smother a volley by skipper Liam Kelly, while at the other end Kean’s hands were warmed by a firecracker from Massey on 82 minutes.
OLDHAM: Kean, B Wilson, J Wilson, Elokobi, Mills, Kelly, Mellis (sub Winchester, 57), Jones (sub Poleon, 57), Philliskirk, Murphy (sub Turner, 57), Forte. Unused subs: Coleman, Brown, Kusunga, Deing.
COLCHESTER: Walker, Clohessy, Wynter, Eastman, Briggs, Fox, Lapslie, Hewitt (sub Bonne, 88), Szmodics (sub Marriott, 83), Massey, Porter. Unused subs: Lewington, Gordon, McEvoy, Sembie-Ferris, Harney.
Referee: Mr Roba Lewis
Attendance: 5,668 (74 away fans)