Match Report

 

Sat 05 Sep 09


A wholehearted and determined Colchester United performance saw them pick up a hard fought point at Southampton on Saturday.

Reduced to ten men by the sending off of Kem Izzet on 35 minutes and the injury of captain Pat Baldwin not long afterwards, the odds were stacked against the visitors.

But a resolute defensive display - and no shortage of attacking endeavour - meant that Aidy Boothroyd's first game in charge was a memorable one.

The new manager built his previous successes on hard working, committed football and it looks like U's fans will see much the same in the future.


The U's made four changes to their starting eleven as they prepared for the game against Southampton on Saturday afternoon.

John White, John-Joe O'Toole, Anthony Wordsworth and Clive Platt all came into the starting eleven as Aidy Boothroyd named his first team as Colchester boss.

Both sides started at a high tempo and it was the Saints starting on the front foot as the U's worked hard to keep them at bay. Whilst the home side were stroking the ball out well, the visitors repelled them well.

The U's own attacking intent was often being pulled short by the linesman on the far side - twice flagging for fouls by U's men and twice calling an offside decision against striker Lisbie.

The U's were left relieved when, as Baldwin left the ball to go out for a goal kick, Trotman helped the ball back into the danger area. Then it came back a second time and Lambert went to ground - but the referee was happy enough that there was no foul in the box.

Mellis got away with a booking after sixteen minutes, as he tripped Wordsworth just as he was about to send Lisbie away. From the resultant free kick, Vincent thrust his way through the mass of bodies, but couldn't quite get a clean connection on his header.

The home side looked like they were set to take the lead on 17 minutes as a Lambert knockdown was stabbed towards goal by Paterson over the onrushing Williams. It seemed destined for the back of the net, but Okuonghae hacked it off the line as the Saints fans began to celebrate.

Both managers were patrolling their technical area as the half hour approached and watched on as James found space and stroked in a shot from distance that gained power, but was well collected by Williams.

Mellis was the first man to go into the book for a late foul on Tierney as the full back cleared the ball down the line. The home fans were not convinced, but he did catch his man.

The U's were then reduced to ten men with ten minutes to go before half time. Llallana held onto the ball by the byline and he was taken down as Izzet tried to get it away from him. With the home fans roaring their discontent, the referee flashed a red card.

The Saints began to crank up the pressure and it was to be a big eight minutes for the visitors as they looked to see out the first half and get in for Aidy Boothroyd's first mid-game team talk.

Lisbie, who had dropped back to left wing for the remainder of that time, was put into the referee's book as he showed his frustration at some of the lack of protection he was getting from the match official.

And whilst the U's were keen not to go behind, they almost went in a goal up ahead of the half time interval.

Vincent ran shoulder to shoulder with Harding as the ball was pumped forwards and he outdid the Saints man. As Davis rushed off his line, the U's man executed a first class lob, but was left disappointed as it came back off the crossbar.

The Saints then nearly got in on goal themselves. For the first time in the half, Mellis got in behind Tierney and sent over a low dangerous cross and White was the man in the right place at the right time to help it over the bar.

There were more worries for the U's before half time though as Baldwin was stretchered off to be replaced by Heath, after the captain fell awkwardly as he contested the corner from White's clearance.

The Saints fans showed great class to clap Baldwin off the pitch, as the second of the U's two players who recently were at Southend took to the pitch.

And yet despite the setbacks that they'd suffered, the U's still had time for one more chance before half time. Vincent stood up Harding and then beat his man to send over a low cross. Lisbie just about got there but couldn't get enough of a connection to beat Davis who could only watch as the ball flashed wide.

Heath's backheader at the start of the second half didn't find its way home to Williams and as Trotman found himself in space in front of the U's keeper, he could only nod into the U's man's hands.

The U's then had two chances of their own. First Tierney decided to release his shackles and burst forwards, smacking in a low shot that Davis got down well to save. Then Lisbie's effort was well blocked as the visitors showed they weren't going to lie down and give up.

Indeed, the U's had started the second half on the front foot, not just sitting in to protect parity.

The U's former captain Hammond was the next to go for goal but his stroked effort from distance was well spotted by Williams who collected comfortably as it swerved towards him.

The home side took Paterson off and put Jake Thomson on, but it was the U's to go close again next as first a low cross from the right was just missed by O'Toole as it flashed across goal, before Platt headed narrowly over the crossbar as the ball was helped back into the danger area.

The U's were containing their opponents well, so much so that Saints had completed their substitutions midway through the second half as they looked to change the path of the game.

The home frustrations were rising both on and off the pitch and the first grumbles started to arise from the crowd when Thomas opted to shoot from distance rather than use four or five players around him in the final third.

They had a series of corners at that the U's had to defend. The visitors were throwing bodies in front of everything, but could only watch on as substitute Thomson headed the ball wide from close range.

The U's were defending excellently, helped by the efforts of the four midfielders in front of them, including Lisbie who was playing his part down the left hand flank in front of Tierney.

The pressure was starting to build and O'Toole was in the right place at the right time to clear the ball over the bar with players queuing up to slot home Mills' low cross with 13 to go.

The U's made their second change two minutes to go, introducing the fresh legs of Vernon for the hard working Platt for the dying ten minutes of the match.

Boothroyd's men continued to defend manfully, but also take up some of the territory themselves as they ran the clock down in front of an increasingly frustrated home support.

A long range Schneiderlin effort was the latest one to test Williams, but he happily got his body behind it as the Saints tried for that breakthrough.

Hammond again struck from distance with three minutes remaining as Okuonghae's brave header fell to his feet, but the ball fizzed over the crossbar.

The Saints were throwing everything at it late on in the game, and as the ball pinballed around with a couple of minutes remaining, Mills struck in a low shot that Williams saved comfortably.

At the other end, Heath headed over from a corner, before Hammond struck his third long range shot - this one ruffling the top of the net, not inside of it as the home fans though.

Then, deep into injury time, Mills met a cross at the far post to head back across goal and it seemed destined that Lambert would tuck home.

But it ran away from the million pound striker and he could only watch on in agony as the chance was gone.

And so the U's registered their first draw and first clean sheet of the season - a just reward for 65 minutes hard graft.

17,070 (545 away)

    Data provided by Press Association

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