Match Report

 

Sat 14 Nov 09


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Colchester United and Exeter City shared the spoils on Saturday afternoon as the U's twice battled from behind to pick up a point.

On a sodden surface and with a howling wind blowing through the stadium, it was always going to be a tough afternoon, but the U's kept going to the end to ensure they were not defeated.

Clive Platt was the man on hand to grab a point for the U's, twice scoring to make it three in two games for the big front man and move the U's up to third in the table after MK Dons were crushed at Charlton.

The pitch played its part early on in the game as right winger Harley got in by the byline as the ball held up.

His low cross was cleared only as far as the edge of the box, where it was helped back into the danger area. Fleetwood was well placed as he tried to sidefoot home a shot, but his effort slid slowly onto the post. In such a position, he may have been better smashing his shot to avoid the sodden surface. And the striker really should have got his goal on four minutes. The visitors again broke the U's defensive line and, instead of shooting, Stewart squared. Fleetwood smashed in a shot this time but, having beaten Williams, Tierney came to the rescue to clear off the line. However, the Grecians got their lead three minutes later. Again they outwitted the U's midfield and Fleetwood made no mistake this time as he lifted the ball over Williams and into the net. The U's responded well to going behind, forcing a series of corners and Odejayi was not impressed on one occasion where he went for the ball, only to have his shirt taken off his head by the attentions of Taylor. Fox was to have the U's first effort on eight minutes, but the visitors were using the conditions to their advantage in the earlier stages.

That said, the U's nearly drew level on thirteen minutes, when Wordsworth's low shot skidded along the ground and took a deflection off an Exeter man before going wide of the wrong footed Marriott's post. From the resulting corner, Odejayi's low header flashed wide. The U's were doing their best to force a way back into the game, but were having a series of corners that were keeping the Grecians under pressure. Hackney's persistence was the U's main outlet in that first quarter of the match, but the home side's next chance came through the centre as Platt embarked on a mazy 30 yard run that saw him get to the edge of the box, only to fire wildly over the bar. The U's were improving as the half wore on, but were yet to seriously test Marriott as the half hour mark arrived. Platt went in the book for a foul not long that interval, before drawing the U's level five minutes before the break. It came after some exceptional work by Tierney, who made a lung busting run to be first to the ball, before heading for the byline. He nicked the ball inside his full back, before composing himself enough to send over a cross for Platt to bury his header past the keeper. However, parity was not to last long as the visitors took the lead as injury time started. They were awarded a free kick 25 yards out and Harley stepped up to lash home a free kick that clipped the underside of the bar as it beat Williams. The U's were almost level thirty seconds after the restart. Odejayi muscled his way onto the ball and laid it out to Ifil, whose cross flashed past the outstretched boot of Platt as it went across goal. Two minutes later and it was Odejayi's turn to go close, leaning back to head just past the post from close range - although the linesman's flag had gone up for offside as the striker went to head the ball.

The U's had started the half on the front foot, and went close again as a long throw from Tierney went across the face of goal and was turned behind by Marriott under pressure from Ifil. The home side looked to build on that pressure by introducing loanee Josh Payne, who came on for Ifil for the final 35 minutes of the match. And, five minutes later, Gillespie was introduced for Odejayi as the U's looked for a way back into the match. It was Wordsworth who was next to go close for the home side as from a corner that dropped at the near post, his flicked shot went just over the bar. Hackney was then the first to react to a Platt flick down midway through the second half, with his low right footed effort being snapped up by Marriott with a full length dive to his left. Platt then knocked down for Gillespie, who overhead kicked an effort that fell to his strike partner, with the defender clearing it off his toes. From the resulting corner, Okuonghae's header fell to Platt at the far post and again his effort was blocked at the last. Gillespie looked razor sharp against the tired City legs and wound his way past three defenders before having his low shot blocked behind for yet another corner. City had a rare second half chance as a Harley lob just landed on the roof of the net, but the main direction of play was towards the South Stand as the U's sought the equaliser.

They nearly got it with fifteen minutes remaininig as Gillespie closed down on a through ball behind the City defence. He clashed with Marriott, who stayed down for treatment, slowing down the U's impetus. The U's had to make a change for an injury of their own with twelve left to go, with Wordsworth hobbling off injured to be replaced by Elito. Williams then came to the U's rescue as he snaffled up a cross and collected it at the second time of asking under pressure from an opponent. At the other end, Gillespie then nearly equalised in bizarre circumstances, charging down a clearance with the ball almost eluding Marriott's grasp as he back pedalled towards goal. But the goalkeeper could do nothing as the U's again scored late in the half to draw level for a second time.

The ball was picked up from deep inside his half by Gillespie and he slotted the ball through the middle.

At that point, Platt still had an awful lot to do as he picked the ball from deep and he ran twenty yards whilst holding off a defender, before slotting a firm shot past the keeper into the bottom keeper. The U's were reduced to ten men just before injury time got underway as substitute Elito saw red for a tackle on Cozic.Five minutes of additional time were signalled by the referee and, despite being down to ten men, it was the U's who sought the winner, although City did have one flash past the post late on.

The spoils were eventually shared - and having twice been behind, it was a hard fought result for the U's.

U's: Williams, White, Okuonghae, Batth, Tierney, Ifil (Payne), Fox, Wordsworth (Elito), Hackney, Platt, Odejayi (Gillespie).
    Data provided by Press Association

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