U's dominate on way to win at Oldham

AN early strike from Clive Platt proved sufficient to dent Oldham Athletic's play-off hopes at Boundary Park this afternoon.

Carl Marston

Oldham Athletic 0 Colchester United 1

AN early strike from Clive Platt proved sufficient to dent Oldham Athletic's play-off hopes at Boundary Park this afternoon.

Despite the narrow margin of victory, this was a one-sided affair with the U's in charge from the first whistle to the last.

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Platt swooped with the winner in the second minute. He pounced on a stray header from defender Reuben Hazell and turned to rifle a shot into the roof of the net. It was the big man's first goal for two months.

Oldham had begun the day fourth in the table, and had recorded some impressive recent results at Millwall (3-2 win) and leaders Leicester (0-0 draw). But they were woeful against the U's.

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In fact, it was amazing that the visitors only managed to score one goal in the first half. They should have had this result in the bag by half-time.

Still, Platt's deadly strike kept the U's faint hopes of a play-off spot alive. It also extended their fine run on the road to just one defeat in their last nine away league games.

Steven Gillespie was handed only his seventh league start of the season, following a nightmarish run of injuries since his move from Cheltenham last summer.

Gillespie had been on the bench for the previous four matches, and was finally passed fit to start alongside Platt up front. But injuries ruled out defender Paul Reid and wingers Mark Yeates and Lewis Gobern.

Reid's absence, due to a knee injury incurred at Huddersfield in midweek, enabled Chris Coyne to start his first game of 2009. His last full outing had been at Brighton on Boxing Day.

The U's took under two minutes to break the deadlock, thanks to PLATT'S sixth goal of the campaign.

Just 108 seconds were on the clock when Latics defender Hazell attempted to head the ball back to his keeper. But Platt easily intercepted and had time to turn before slamming home a shot high into the roof of the net from eight yards out.

The U's nearly doubled their lead on 11 minutes, but this time Gilespie's header was deflected wide off a defender for the first of three quickfire corners.

In fact, United bossed the first quarter of the game, much to the frustration of the Boundary Park faithful - there were a lot of sighs and groans emanating from the main-stand, particularly with ex-Southend midfielder Kevin Maher's tendency to over-hit his corners and free-kicks.

The visitors were again close to a second goal in the 24th minute. Simon Hackney's cross looped over keeper Greg Fleming, who was hopelessly out of position, and it needed a combination of Sean Gregan and Hazell to keep the ball out of the net. Gregan's attempted clearance actually hit Hazell on the goal-line!

Just after the half-hour mark, Hackney was bursting through on goal from David Perkins' defence-splitting pass. But the former Carlisle winger sliced his shot wide with just Fleming to beat.

It was Perkins' turn to miss a good chance in the 35th minute. Gillespie sprung the offside trap and whipped over a cross which was diverted into the path of Perkins. But the U's right-midfielder scuffed his shot off target.

A minute later and Gillespie was denied by the woodwork. The U's striker met Perkins' corner with a volley on the turn that struck the near post.

The biggest surprise was that it was still only 1-0 to Colchester. The game should have been out of sight by now!

Hammond was eying up the target in the 43rd minute. It was the skipper's 26th birthday, but he could not celebrate with a goal as his wayward shot ballooned well wide of goal.

In first-half stoppage time, Kem Izzet was booked for a late lunge at Deane Smalley. The half-time whistle was greeted by a chorus of boos from the home crowd.

Half-time: Oldham Athletic 0 Colchester United 1

Oldham had not managed a shot of any description in the first half, but they took just 46 seconds to threaten an equaliser at the start of the second period. Mark Cousins superbly beat away Steven Kabba's ferocious shot from close range.

And they then hit the post in the 53rd minute. Deane Smalley shrugged off the challenge of Alan Maybury and cracked in a shot on the turn that beat Cousins, only for the ball to roll back off the inside of the post.

The U's attacked on the break in the second half. That was the case just before the hour mark when Gillespie chased onto Coyne's huge clearance upfield. He outpaced defender Sean Gregan before lashing in an angled shot that Fleming beat away for a corner.

Cousins pulled off his second save of the match in the 70th minute. The 22-year-old rushed off his line to block Lee Hughes' shot with his arms aloft.

Oldham mounted a late rally. Hughes had a shot deflected wide for a corner in the last minute of normal time, and Cousins then arched back to fingertip Danny Whitaker's cross over the bar.


OLDHAM ATHLETIC: FLEMING 8, Eardley 6, Hazell 5, Gregan 6, Jones 5, Liddell 6 (sub Alessandra, 81), Allott 6 (sub Whitaker, 76), Maher 6, Smalley 6, Hughes 6, Kabba 6 (sub Windass, 58). Unused subs: Budtz, Hines.

COLCHESTER UNITED: Cousins 8, Maybury 7, Baldwin 8, Coyne 7, Tierney 7, Perkins 8, IZZET 8, Hammond 7, Hackney 7 (sub Wordsworth, 77), Gillespie 7 (sub Vernon, 65), Platt 7 (sub Wasiu, 78). Unused subs: White, Gerken.

Referee: Mr Chris Sarginson (Staffordshire) 7

Attendance: 4,591

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