Match Report


Sat 31 Oct 09

Colchester United's unbeaten run came to an end at The Den on Saturday as a late free kick won it for the Lions.

The two teams had traded chances throughout the game and that was to continue right to the dying moments of the match.

Anthony Wordsworth, who had scored the U's goal with a free kick earlier on in the game, smashed the crossbar with another set piece deep in injury time.

And the Lions made the most of that escape as they scored a free kick of their own as substitute James Henry lashed one into the bottom corner.

That goal came after Alan Dunne's earlier effort and earned the Lions another three points to give the U's their first defeat since Aidy Boothroyd took over at the club. There was just one change to the starting eleven, as Marc Tierney returned having completed his suspension last week against Walsall.

On the bench, Kem Izzet returned after his bout of flu, whilst Paul Reid was named in the matchday squad for the first time in seven months, following his knee injury against Huddersfield last season. Abdou was the first to have an effort for the home side, firing well over, before the U's went close to taking the lead themselves. With keeper Forde out of position, Payne reacted quickly to a loose ball to head it towards goal. It eluded Robinson and Forde bundled it behind as he failed to collect it cleanly on his path back to goal.

And they should have taken the lead a minute later. The U's got away down the left and Wordsworth laid it into the run of Platt. He helped the ball to the near post and Odejayi could only help the ball past the near post. It was a hugely open start to the game and Laird put Schofield in on goal to force a good save out of Williams, before the U's responded in kind with Odejayi being put in by Payne to stab in a left footed effort which again earned a good save out of the keeper. Williams had to be quick off his line on ten minutes to smash the ball away, as Schofield got away off the shoulder of White to bear down on goal. The Lions were enjoying a spell of pressure as the game reached the quarter hour mark, but Schofield should have done better when a ball was half cleared to his feet on the edge of the box - he could only strike his shot straight at Batth. At the other end, the U's had their first sight of goal following the frantic early exchanges when Lisbie came off the right wing to collect a loose ball and smack in a shot that Forde collected relatively comfortably. But the keeper could do nothing when the U's took the lead in the twentieth minute. The visitors were given a free kick twenty-five yards out on the angle and when Wordsworth's low effort clipped off Laird on the end of the wall, Forde was well beaten as it snuck in the far side netting. The U's were happy to protect their advantage - having learned the lessons of a week ago - but were pleased to see a deflection, again involving Wordsworth from Laird's shot, go wide of the target with Williams wrongfooted.

A minute later, Forde almost got caught on the ball by Lisbie in much the same way as Odejayi had capitalised a fortnight earlier at Wycombe, but the Lions stopper was just able to wriggle away from the U's forward and hook away.

The Lions then went long to find Harris behind the U's back line but, with Williams rushing forward, he lashed his volley well wide of the goal.

The home side had been knocked out of their rhythm by the U's, with first Lisbie and then Wordsworth forcing errors - the U's midfielder picking up a loose ball and lashing it left footed just over the bar and onto the roof of the net. And as much as the Lions tried to work their way back into the game, the first half hour arrived with frustrated faces on and off the pitch as shots went wide and passes just that little bit too long. Morison almost found a path to goal from a cross from Hackett, but Batth was in the right place at the right time to block the ball away for a corner, which the U's defended well. The U's were happy to hit when the opportunities presented themselves and, having swapped wings with Lisbie, Wordsworth was enjoying a fruitful half down the right hand side. He jinked past his man on 39 minutes to drill in a left footed shot that had Forde scrambling towards his near post as it went just the wrong side of the woodwork from the U's point of view. But the visitors spurned a decent chance ninety seconds later. Lisbie's strength knocked Dunne off the ball - which the home fans were not happy about - and as he bore down on goal, he opted to cut back and try himself rather than play it back to Odejayi.

He went to ground as Forde came to meet him, and the home fans were unhappy with how the U's player had gone to ground.

O'Toole went into the book five minutes before half time, before the Lions had their best chance on 43 minutes as Hackett drilled a fierce shot just beyond the far post with Williams at full stretch.

At the other end, Lisbie's looping header was collected under the crossbar by Forde, before Wordsworth joined O'Toole in the book for kicking the ball away just before the half time interval. And, in a half full of chances, Schofield had yet another deep into injury time. The home side got in a good position down their right wing and fired in a low cross, which the winger - falling as he hit it - could only scoop past the near post. The U's will have been expecting to ride a storm right at the start of the second half and, after a tentative start, the home start didn't really manage to come out all guns blazing at the Colchester goal. Instead, it was the U's who had the first real attempt on goal in the second period, a corner falling to O'Toole, who swung a boot at the ball to push it past the far post. Led by their superb centre halves, the U's were defending manfully when they had to and the home side were often restricted to shots from distance, with Abdou lifting one over the bar nine minutes after the restart. With the U's holding strong at the back, frustrations were starting to rise amongst the home supporters. But despite the visitors preserving their advantage, it was the U's who were to make the first change as Izzet returned from his illness on the hour mark to replace West Ham loanee Payne.

The home side did make a change shortly afterwards though as Henry was introduced in place of Hackett - a substitution that was not universally well received by the Lions fans. The U's had the next two efforts on goal, though, with both Platt and Lisbie having efforts that never truly tested Forde but at least signalled the U's intent to grab a second goal. But it was the Lions who were to equalise with a long distance effort on 66 minutes. Dunne's previous work had been in setting stuff up down the right flank, but he collected up a ball from distance and lashed in a shot that fizzed past Williams, having clipped a U's player on the way through. The U's almost got back in front straight away. The ball was nodded onto Wordsworth by O'Toole and his sidefooted effort seemed goalbound until Craig intervened at the right time. The home side were in the ascendancy though, and looked to build on their momentum by introducing Price for Morison for the final eighteen minutes of the game. The U's attempted to force their way back into the game for the final fourteen minutes by introducing the pace of Gillespie up top, with Platt making way. With the Lions pushing forward for their own winner, it was leaving space for the U's to get in behind - if they could pick the right ball. The home side should have grabbed the lead with nine minutes left, though. Wordsworth first won the ball and then lost it, with Dunne bearing down on goal. The goalscorer opted to lay it back to Harris, who could only hit his shot from close range right into the midriff of Williams. And whilst the U's hit the Lions on the counter attack, they got hit on the break themselves with ten minutes left. The ball was fed down the line to Price and although White came across to block, it required a fine stop by Williams to turn the ball away from danger.

Batth was replaced with seven minutes remaining as he limped out of action - with the home fans far from impressed - to be replaced by Reid. The defender came on before the board was shown and had to retreat from his area back to the halfway line to finally be reintroduced after seven months out of action. Craig was the next to go close for the home side, drilling in a free kick that Williams collected at the second time of asking under pressure from Price, but the keeper was a relieved man with five minutes remaining.

Dunne again caused trouble down the right, his shot was parried this time by Williams and as Harris followed up, his shot was blocked - and then rebounded off the Maldon man for a goal kick with the goal gaping. At the other end, a clever ball from Wordsworth sent Odejayi away and he laid it into the path of Lisbie whose shot was again superbly blocked by Smith to send it away from danger. Then, deep into injury time, Wordsworth stepped up to smack a free kick against the crossbar from distance with Forde well beaten, as the game finished with a host of chances - just as it had begun. And the Lions won it at the death as Henry stepped up with a long range free kick to smash in a shot that Williams let slip through his grasp and into the bottom corner of his net.

Such are the margins between victory and defeat in League One - the U's suffering their first defeat since Aidy Boothroyd arrived.

U's: Williams, White, Okuonghae, Batth (Reid), Tierney, Lisbie, O'Toole, Payne (Izzet), Wordsworth, Odejayi, Platt (Gillespie)

Subs: Cousins, Ifil, Fox, Elito
    Data provided by Press Association

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