Cambridge United’s five game unbeaten start to the season was ended with a narrow 1-2 defeat at the hands of Oldham Athletic at the Abbey Stadium in Sky Bet League Two.
Marc Richards had cancelled out Urko Vera’s opening goal before half time, but the U’s were undone by a set piece which David Wheater headed beyond Dimitar Mitov midway through the second half.
The U’s lined up with three changes as Luke Hannant, George Maris and Marc Richards returned to the starting eleven.
Hannant started brightly for United and caused Oldham right back Thomas Hamer early issues, slamming the U’s first effort on goal against the side netting after some nifty footwork before forcing Gary Woods into the first save of the game inside ten minutes.
United were hit on the counter by the Latics on 13 minutes which ended with Christopher Missilou firing a half volley wide of Mitov’s target, and Liam O’Neil similarly struck off target at the other end moments later.
Paul Lewis and George Maris also tried speculative efforts up to the midway point of the half but neither tested Woods.
On 28 minutes Urko Vera opened the scores for the visitors, ghosting in unmarked to header a cross from left at goal which Mitov saved initially before the striker bundled over the rebound.
Liam O’Neil came close to levelling minutes later but was denied with an excellent stop by Woods. However the keeper could do nothing to stop Marc Richards equalising with a tidy finish on the swivel ten minutes before the break, after persistent work by Paul Lewis to assist with a cross from the right of the area.
Calderwood’s men ended the half far the stronger of the two sides, and were unfortunate not to grab a second. Leon Davies timed his entry into the Oldham area perfectly to meet Sam Smith’s cutback but picked out the cross bar rather than the back of the net. Smith himself went close too in first half stoppage time with a free kick from 20 yards which Gary Woods did well to get fingertips to.
United returned after the break and quickly took control of the game, although Oldham showed the technical ability to hit the U’s on the counter and ensured their threat was felt in the game still.
A neat move between Paul Lewis and Sam Smith released the latter for a shot inside the Oldham area just after the hour mark, but the Reading loanee couldn’t quite get the timing right on the swivel and skewed a shot into the Newmarket Road End.
United were then dealt a sucker punch against the run of play with another sloppy set piece goal conceded, as David Wheater rose first in the U’s area to nod the ball into the far bottom corner and restore the visitors lead.
Colin Calderwood introduced Jack Roles, Reggie Lambe and Harvey Knibbs as the U’s searched for a goal that would draw them level for a second time. Knibbs went close with a half volley ten minutes from time but was denied with a fine stop by Woods who tipped the striker’s looping shot over the bar. It proved to be as close as the U’s came to equalising as their unblemished opening to the campaign was diminished.
Cambridge United: Mitov, Davies, Darling, Taft, Taylor, Hannant, Maris, Lewis, O’Neil (Roles, 57 mins), Smith, Richards
Oldham Athletic: Woods, Iacovitti, Smith-Brown, Vera (Sylla, 54 mins), Maouche, Nepomuceno (Branger, 65 mins), Missilou, Fage, Wheater, Eagles (Azankpo, 54 mins), Hamer
Bookings: Fage, Sylla, Maouche
Attendance: 4,004 (220)
Man of the Match: Luke Hannant