Comeback draw at Boundary Park.
The final whistle went before they could though, and they had to be content with the share of the spoils.
A goal from close range, it looked like an own goal after a keeper error, made it 1-1 on eighty minutes and it was the U's who looked the more likely to score a late winner.
It was a lead that the hosts held until half time, with only Gavin Massey testing the Oldham keeper with a long range effort in the first forty five minutes.
An early setback for the U's came in just the fourth minute, with Murphy finishing a clever set piece move behind the U's wall.
The U's have battled to a point in their first game of 2016 to get themselves up and running under Kevin Keen.
Kevin Keen named an unchanged line-up for the game, looking to replicate the performance at Gillingham but with a positive result to show for it.
The hosts made three changes to their starting eleven, as they like the U’s, looked to get themselves out of the relegation zone as soon as possible in the New Year.
The game started with the home side looking to put the U’s under pressure defensively, and there was only four minutes on the clock when they pieced that defence.
Matt Briggs was second to a loose ball and caught the Oldham man with an outstretched foot, giving away a free kick twenty five yards out.
A clever set piece ensued, with Murphy spinning off the end of the wall to receive a great lay off and calmly finish past an exposed Elliott Parish.
The reaction to going behind was good though and the U’s were marginally edging the possession, without really testing Cornell in the Oldham goal.
On eleven minutes, Richard Brindley managed to get forward from right back but his effort from twenty yards out flew wide.
Good play from George Moncur ten minutes later opened up a gap for Gavin Massey, but his shot from the edge of the box was safely fielded by Cornell.
It was a quiet game for both keepers and neither side were breaking through the opposition defence for long periods of the half.
Just after the half hour mark, Moncur found a bit of space after Tom Eastman had driven forward from the halfway line but his effort was blocked for a corner – which was horribly overhit and came to nothing.
That was the final sight of goal for either side, and the half time whistle went after just a minute of added time with Oldham that goal to the good.
Keen made a change at the break, replacing Joe Edwards with Owen Garvan in central midfield.
Two Elliott Parish saves in quick succession kept the U’s in the game early on in the second half, tipping away two headers before Briggs cleared the danger.
That was Briggs’ last involvement, as he was suffering a chest pain and had to be replaced by Alex Wynter.
Owen Garvan creating the best chance of the game so far from a set piece, with Tom Eastman disappointingly getting no contact from eight yards out.
Darren Ambrose came on in the sixty ninth minute, replacing Moncur and the U’s continued their dominance of the second half.
Marvin Sordell had a sight of goal when a defender slipped trying to deal with a long ball but his angled shot went narrowly over the home crossbar.
The U’s endeavours were rewarded on eighty minutes, with a goal that even after the game, no-one could decide who would be credited with it.
Garvan whipped a cross in that looked easy for Cornell to take, the keeper let it slip through his hands and it looked like Timothee Dieng was the most likely suspect as the ball ricocheted into the back of the net.
The U’s were on the front foot and almost went ahead thanks to a great strike from Ambrose.
A long ball was flicked on by Porter, Sordell clipped a reverse pass to Ambrose but his effort bounced back off the home crossbar.
George Elokobi suffered a hamstring injury but had to continue with no subs left available to Keen.
He move forward but the defence of Brindley, Eastman, Wynter and Massey comfortably held firm and the game ended with the teams level on 1-1.
It was Kevin Keen’s first point in charge and took the U’s off the bottom of the table ahead of the FA Cup tie against Charlton Athletic in a week’s time.