COLCHESTER United’s relegation fears deepened this afternoon after slipping to a 1-0 defeat at home to Oldham Athletic.

The U’s started the day in 18th place, a place and a point below their visitors.

But after losing this battle between two struggling sides, they now have genuine fears of the drop heading into Monday’s trip to Crewe Alexandra.

Oldham’s winner came in fortuitous circumstances just seconds before half-time.

Right-back Connor Brown burst into the box and delivered a low centre from the right, which deflected off defender Tom Eastman’s boot and looped into the U’s net.

Overall, it was hard on the hosts, who certainly created the better of the few chances in the game.

Alex Gilbey had their best inside the first three minutes, powering into the area to meet Freddie Sears’ corner.

However, with the goal at his mercy, he headed over.

Jabo Ibehre should also have done better with another headed effort, nodding straight at Latics goalkeeper Paul Rachubka from Gavin Massey’s cross.

Colchester continued to have the better of it in the second half, without created a genuine, clear-cut chance.

Gilbey saw a long-range effort deflected narrowly over.

Substitute Dominic Vose then unleashed a curling effort from distance that went just wide, while Ibehre tried his luck with a low shot that was deflected narrowly wide of Rachubka’s post.