Rhys Murphy put Latics ahead, finishing off a well worked free kick routine, however, with 10 minutes of the game remaining Chris Porter equalised for the U’s.
David Dunn made three changes to the side which lost to Doncaster Rovers on Monday as Joseph Mills, Cameron Dummigan and Richie Wellens all came into the starting 11.
Latics kicked off 2016 in perfect fashion, netting within the first five minutes of the game courtesy of a very well-worked free kick routine.
Mike Jones’ short free kick found Danny Philliskirk who knocked it into the path of Murphy who made no mistake from five yards.
Athletic were very much on top in the opening minutes of the game, as Philliskirk struck wide from 25 yards.
The U’s started to come back into the game and went close on 11 minutes through Richard Brindley but his shot from distance went past David Cornell’s post.
Murphy was oozing with confidence after his second goal in as many games for Latics and earned a round of applause for a positive run on 20 minutes.
Latics were forced into some deep defending but the U’s rarely tested Cornell throughout the first half.
George Moncur curled a shot around the post on the half hour mark, which was the closest they came.
Going forward, Athletic looked threatening and on 37 minutes Murphy’s neat flick was inches away from falling to Jake Cassidy running through the middle but it just clipped the striker’s heels and the chance was lost.
Dunn’s men started the second half brightly and were almost rewarded with a second goal on 52 minutes.
Jones’ free kick found the head of Cassidy but Colchester United goalkeeper Elliot Parish tipped the ball over his crossbar.
The U’s came back into the game on the hour mark and should have equalised through defender Tom Eastman.
The centre half rose highest from a cross into the box but fluffed his lines and headed wide.
With 20 minutes of the game remaining, Philliskirk almost sent Murphy through in the box but former defender George Elokobi just managed to get back in time.
Colchester were threatening on the counter attack and former Burnley and Bolton Wanderers man Marvin Sordell found himself behind the defence on 75 minutes but fired over from an acute angle.
The warning signs were there for Latics and it was the U’s that did equalise with 10 minutes of the game left.
A corner into the box was not dealt with by Latics and it found a way past goalkeeper Cornell, with the goalscorer credited as former Latics frontman Porter.
And it was almost the visitors that won the game three minutes later as substitute Darren Ambrose smashed the crossbar from 25 yards.
Latics had one last chance to get the three points from the game but Jones’ header from a Philliskirk cross went over the bar from 12 yards.
Oldham Athletic: Cornell, Dummigan, B.Wilson, Dieng, Mills, Wellens, Kelly, Jones, Philliskirk, Murphy (Poleon 74’), Cassidy.
Subs not used: Coleman, J.Wilson, Winchester, Croft, Rasulo, Yeates.
Colchester United: Parish, Briggs (Wynter 59’), Edwards (Garvan 46’), Elokobi, Gilbey, Porter, Moncur, Massey, Eastman, Brindley, Sordell.
Subs not used: Wright, Lapslie, Vincent-Young, Barnes, Ambrose.
Goals: Oldham Athletic (Murphy 5’) 1-1 Colchester United (Porter 81’)
Attendance: 3,535 (101 away supporters)