COLCHESTER United's League Two play-off hopes suffered another blow this afternoon after they were beaten at home by Oldham Athletic.

The U's slumped to a third successive home defeat at the JobServe Community Stadium, with all of the damage done in the opening 13 minutes of the contest.

Goals from Alex Iacovitti and Callum Lang put the visitors in command at the break.

And although Colchester's second-half performance was much improved, it could not save them from defeat.

Colchester head coach John McGreal stuck with the same side that had won 1-0 at Cambridge United.

Frank Nouble returned from suspension but had to be content with a place on the bench, along with new signing Sam Saunders.

Colchester had gone into the game on the back of a fine 1-0 win at Cambridge.

But Oldham started much the brighter and went close in the third minute when Tom Hamer’s right-foot shot sailed narrowly past the post from 25 yards.

The U’s fell behind two minutes later.

Iacovitti swept home low unmarked from close range after Lang and then Peter Clarke had headed into his path, following Gevaro Nepomuceno’s corner.

It was a poor goal for Colchester to give away but there was worse to come soon after for the home side, who fell further behind in the 13th minute.

U’s keeper Dillon Barnes inexplicably kicked Frankie Kent's over-hit back pass straight into Lang's path and the Oldham striker clinically fired into the net for 2-0.

Colchester tried to find a route back into the game and Ben Stevenson headed over, after Oldham had only partially cleared Kane Vincent-Young’s deflected cross.

But the Latics almost made it 3-0 when Lang ran at the Colchester defence and saw his deflected shot pushed away by Barnes for a corner.

Oldham, fresh from their impressive midweek win over Tranmere, were well organised and difficult to break down in the first half.

In contrast, there was little creativity from the U’s who struggled to keep possession for long periods.

Chris Missilou’s 30-yard strike was plucked out of the air superbly by Barnes at full stretch and although Kane Vincent-Young curled a shot straight at keeper Dan Iversen from the edge of the area, the hosts struggled to carve out opportunities.

Colchester had a penalty shout rejected ten minutes before half-time when Courtney Senior raced onto Sammie Szmodics’ pass and into the area only to fall under Clarke’s challenge.

But the U’s trailed at the break and boss McGreal made a half-time change, sending on Nouble for Abo Eisa.

As a result, Colchester had a higher tempo to their play in the opening stages of the second half and just before the hour mark, Luke Norris’s tame header went straight at Iversen from Senior’s corner.

But Barnes pushed away Lang’s low 25-yard shot for a corner midway through the second half, before Mikael Mandron and Brennan Dickenson was sent on for Norris and Tom Lapslie in a bid to find a route back into the contest.

Nouble somehow failed to connect with Dickenson’s driven low ball into the area and with nine minutes to go, Dickenson’s curled left foot free-kick pushed away brilliantly by Iversen for a corner.

Dickenson, who was impressive after coming on, headed wide from Ryan Jackson's cross in the final stages.

Six minutes of stoppage time were added at the end but Barnes did well to save Nepomuceno’s fierce strike late on, as the U's were beaten.