There was precious little festive cheer to be had at Boundary Park yesterday as Latics endured a disappointing day, slipping to a first home defeat since August at the hands of visitors Colchester United.
There were two enforced changes to the team that won at Mansfield on Tuesday night, Jonson Clarke-Harris was serving a one match suspension with James Wesolowski absent because of the nasty facial injury he suffered in the cup win. Into the team came Manchester City loanee Ellis Plummer and Carl Winchester, a third change saw Matteo Lanzoni, a goalscoring substitute midweek, preferred at right back.
Latics fell behind on 7 minutes, good work down the left hand side allowed Craig Eastmond time to drive a low cross into the six yard box and in trying to clear, Ellis Plummer could only divert the ball into his own goal past the helpless Mark Oxley to give Colchester the lead.
Oldham fought back and created a few half chances, Mike Petrasso saw a goal bound effort saved and Adam Rooney was unfortunate to see a header flash narrowly wide. However, just after the half hour mark the visitors doubled their advantage to stun the Boundary Park faithful. Dominic Vose twisted and turned his way past Plummer and his low cross was turned in from two yards out by Jabo Ibehre who will wait a long time to score an easier goal.
Manager Lee Johnson made two half time changes as Latics set about getting back into the game, off went Ellis Plummer and Carl Winchester and on came Connor Brown and Kirk Millar. These changes saw Brown slot in at right back, Lanzoni move into the middle to partner James Tarkowski and Jonathan Grounds return to left back. Millar took his place up front with Danny Philliskirk dropping back as manager Johnson shuffled the pack.
It was a change that almost brought an immediate return, Philliskirk's effort hitting the side netting, before Matteo Lanzoni unluckily saw a header drop inches wide. Latics had gained the upper hand but despite enjoying a large share of possession were unable to break down a stubborn Colchester defence. At the other end a rare break saw U's substitute Ryan Dickson fire an effort narrowly wide. Whilst Colchester's on loan Chelsea 'keeper Sam Walker produced good saves to deny Connor Brown and skipper Korey Smith.
With just over ten minutes remaining Latics gave teenage academy graduate John Pritchard his first taste of senior action and it was the debutant who came closest to a goal and a dream debut, his rasping drive crashing off the crossbar as the clock ticked over the 90 minute mark.
This was to be a frustrating and forgettable afternoon for Latics, who fell to a first home defeat in 10 and only a second defeat in the last 12 games.
Check Latics player to hear Lee Johnson's reaction to the defeat with more reaction to come.
Final score, Latics 0 Colchester United 2.
Attendance, 4036 (110 from Colchester)