Oldham Athletic 4 Hereford United 0.

HEREFORD ended up well beaten in their League 1 clash at Boundary Park.

But once again they were made to pay for their inability to finish and for defensive errors.

Steve Guinan returned after injury as one of seven changes following the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy exit at the hands of Swindon Town in midweek.

Ben Smith was also back in the party after illness but there was no place in the 16-man squad for Matt Done, although the former Wrexham man scored Hereford’s only goal against Swindon.

Hereford got away to an awful start after gifting the opening goal to the home side.

Goalkeeper Darren Randolph spilled Daniel Jones’ long-range effort at the feet of Lee Hughes and the former Kidderminster Harriers player had the easy task of slipping the ball into the net.

Hereford should, however, have been back on terms within a minute.

Andy Williams skipped past a defender on the right of the area and pulled the ball back to Toumani Diagouraga whose weak shot was blocked by Jones.

A minute later, goalkeeper Mark Crossley dropped a Kris Taylor corner and was relieved to see his fly-hacked clearance rebound off Stephen O’Leary but just clear the bar.

Referee Rob Shoebridge handed the Latics a chance to extend their lead on the quarter-hour.

Hughes and Bruno N’Gotty were shadowing the ball on the right of the penalty area when their feet tangled and Hughes hit the deck.

Shoebridge pointed to the spot and Andy Liddell did the rest.

Guinan’s speculative effort from the right touch-line had Crossley scrambling across his goal and relieved to see the ball drift a foot wide.

But the keeper did well on 19 minutes when he pulled off a point-blank save to block Bradley Hudson-Odoi’s fierce drive.

Hereford continued to build-up neatly without finding a way through and it was the home side who scored again on 36 minutes.

Richard Jackson’s lack of pace was exposed when Jones sped on to a Chris Taylor pass and shot across Randolph into the corner of the net.

Hereford’s luck was out a minute before the interval when Kris Taylor’s curling free-kick from 20 yards smacked against the bar and bounced over.

Hereford made a concerted effort to claw something back at the start of the second period.

N’Gotty volleyed just over from a Kris Taylor corner and Williams saw a powerful drive tipped over by substitute keeper Greg Fleming.

Jones then somehow prevented Simon Johnson from getting the decisive touch to Richard Rose’s far post cross and Kris Taylor saw a shot deflected over for a corner.

The action was not all at one end, however, and Randolph saved well from a Jones free-kick before Chris Taylor shot wide from a dangerous position.

With Hereford still in search of some reward, O’Leary broke into the penalty area only to scuff his shot wide.

United’s afternoon spiralled further downhill when O’Leary was reckless enough to commit two bookable offences inside three minutes to earn the Bulls’ first red card of the season.

The reduction in numbers opened up space for Oldham and Randolph had to pull off a good save to keep out a Deane Smalley header.

But the keeper was beaten in the final minute when Danny Whitaker ran in unchallenged to shoot in off a post.

Hereford: Randolph; Jackson, Broadhurst, N’Gotty, Rose; Hudson-Odoi (Johnson, 30 min), O’Leary, Diagouraga, Taylor; Williams; Guinan. Subs not used: Samson, Smith, Chadwick, Beckwith.

Oldham: Crossley (Fleming, 46 min); Lomax, Hazell, Byrne, Jones; Liddell (Smalley, 61 min), Allott, Whitaker, Taylor; Hughes (Alessandra, 78 min), Davies. Subs not used: Maher, O’Grady.

Referee: Rob Shoebridge (Derbyshire).

Attendance: 5,468 (334 from Hereford).

Goals: Hughes, 3 min, 1-0; Liddell (pen), 15 min, 2-0; Jones, 36 min, 3-0; Whitaker, 90 min, 4-0.

Red card: O’Leary, two bookable offences, 83 min.

Yellow cards: Hereford – O’Leary, 81 min, foul; 83 min, foul; Oldham – Hazell, 44 min, foul.