U’s stand strong to earn point

npower League One Oldham Ath 0 Colchester Utd 0 COLCHESTER United produced a fine second half defensive display to gain a goalless draw at Oldham this afternoon.

A scrappy first half ended goalless thanks to a combination of uninspiring play and pedantic refereeing.

The game livened up significantly after the break though and it was Oldham who looked the more likely to win it.

However, Colchester stood firm to gain a good point at Boundary Park as Oldham made it six home matches in the league without defeat.

U’s boss John Ward made one change to his side following last weekend’s 3-0 home defeat to Huddersfield. Anthony Wordsworth, dropped for what was the first league defeat of the season, returned to the side to replace Ian Henderson.

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Oldham player-manager Paul Dickov, 37, couldn’t find room for himself on the bench as the Latics chased their first back-to-back victories of the season.

The former Manchester City and Scotland striker made one alteration to his side following their come-from-behind 3-1 win at Brentford, captain Reuben Hazell returning from a knee injury to replace Jason Jarrett at the heart of defence.

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The first big chance of the game came as early as the third minute when Hazell glanced a header just across the face of goal after meeting a corner at the near post.

From there on though the match turned into a highly scrappy affair, the ball spending a great deal of time in the air, some pedantic refereeing and wayward passing from both sides all contributing.

Indeed, Colchester had to wait until the 22nd minute for their first meaningful attempt on goal when Ashley Vincent’s fierce cross-cum-shot on the angle was saved by keeper Dean Brill.

Wordsworth then provided a rare moment of excitement just before the half hour mark when he danced between two players down the right-hand side before lashing a low shot into the side-netting.

Home boss Dickov finally lost his rag with whistle happy referee Peter Quinn as the stop-start half came to a close and was almost sent to the stands for his passionate – yet wholly understandable – remonstrations. And as play restarted U’s boss Ward came over and put a sympathetic arm around his counterpart in a display of sympathy at his frustrations.

The Cleveland official was roundly booed off the field by both sets of fans at the break and U’s physio Tony Flynn voiced his opinions as they left the field.

Andy Bond was injured in a tackle just before half-time and was replaced at the break by Lloyd James, the summer signing from Southampton having starred for the reserves in midweek.

Oldham started the second half the brighter side and twice visiting keeper Ben Williams had to be alert, first saving a deflected Dale Stephens effort and then blocking a dangerous Oumare Tounkara pull-back with his feet after the powerful frontman had shrugged off the attentions of Paul Reid.

Colchester defended well though and, with Vincent giving left-back Cedric Evina a torrid time, the counter-attack threat grew.

The game well and truly burst into life after the hour mark as both sides had a basketball type exchange of attack and counter-attack.

First substitute Dean Kelly saw his headed finish ruled out for offside before seconds later a sliding Vincent was inches away from turning in a low David Mooney cross at the far post.

Back came Oldham once again though and Magnus Okuonghae produced a fine stretching block in the box to deny a stinging low shot from Richie Jones.

The hosts’ pressure mounted as the game wore on and they came closer still in the 79th minute when Jones’ left wing cross flicked off the head of Brian Wilson before evading a number of onrushing players and zipping past the far post.

Moments later Tounkara did superbly to burst into the box and the U’s were fortunate that he blazed a good opportunity onto the roof of the stand.

– Full match report and reaction in Monday’s EADT.

Oldham Ath (4-4-2): Brill; Lee, Evina (Black 62), Hazell (cpt), M’voto; Alessandra (Kelly 62), Jones, Furman, Stephens; Taylor, Tounkara.

Unused Subs: Jarrett, Feeney, Brooke, Gerrard, Christophe.

Booked: Stephens (45), Furman (45), Evina (49).

Colchester Utd (4-3-3): B Williams; Wilson, T Williams, Okuonghae, Reid; Izzet, Bond (James 46), Perkins; Vincent (I Henderson 71), Wordsworth (Odejayi 82), Mooney.

Unused Subs: Cousins, White, L Henderson, Heath.

Booked: I Henderson (77).

U’s Man-of-the-Match: Magnus Okuonghae

Attendance: 4,136

Referee: Mr Peter Quinn (Cleveland)

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