Match Report


Mon 28 Dec 09

The U's made another big statement of their promotion credentials on Bank Holiday Monday as they saw off Southampton by a 2-1 scoreline.

It made it a maximum haul over the festive period, and drew the U's level with Norwich, whose game was postponed.

The U's came up against one of the form teams in the division and outbattled their opponents to gain another massive three points.

The U's made one change from the side that beat Southend United on Boxing Day, as Kevin Lisbie came in for Clive Platt with the home side going for pace up front. That almost paid early dividends for the U's as Gillespie out fought and outraced Jaidi to the ball, but as the two players came together, it flew through to the goalkeeper to collect. The Saints had pace of their own, though, and Antonio was due to give Tierney a tough afternoon down the U's left, but the home defender was happy to give as good as he got in the early stages. The U's didn't clear their lines fully on seven minutes and a cross flung into the box was flicked on with the back of his head by Lambert and it just went past the far post. At the other end, Gillespie again used his pace to trouble Bialkowski but the keeper just got enough on it to stop the U's man getting in a shot on the angle. Ten minutes into the game and the same two players came together from a cross and the keeper spilt his effort, but was able to drop on the loose ball before trouble arose. For the visitors, Antonio continued to be the main outlet, but he more often than not was wasteful with his possession in the early stages, much to the frustration of his manager on the sidelines. Sights of goal were rare in the first quarter of the game, but Gillespie's mazy run and ball through to Wordsworth looked like it might find his man, but the keeper smothered it just in time. However, when Lisbie repeated the feat with another through ball on 23 minutes, Wordsworth was able to break the offside the trap and kept his calm to lift the ball past Bialkowski and into the net. The U's were on the front foot now, and nearly doubled their advantage four minutes after going in front. A corner to the far post was helped back into the danger area by the head of Lisbie and, with a man waiting to clear that effort, O'Toole's second header helped it only just over the bar. The U's had to be on their guard though and a lung busting run from Izzet ensured that a deep cross on the counter attack by the Saints didn't find the man at the far post as the Colchester midfielder headed behind. The Saints were having a spell of pressure of their own as the last ten minutes of the half arrived, and had a half claim for a penalty as White and Hammond came together in the area, but referee Deadman was not interested in the appeals. Antonio went into the book just before the half time interval, and Trotman joined him for dissent after he protested too vociferously after he felt that Wordsworth had dived in the final third. The U's pressing in key areas was making it difficult for the visitors to get any joy on the ball and it almost got the home side a second goal as a break between Gillespie and Lisbie almost fed through the former before the defence intercepted just in time. The home side went into the break a goal to the good, but Connolly was introduced in the second half for the visitors as they looked for a way back into the match. The yellow cards kept coming, with Thomas and O'Toole went into the book for a coming together on the East Stand touchline, as the Saints started the second half brightly. The U's had the ball in the back of the net ten minutes after the restart, but the liensman's flag had gone up before the ball was tucked home at close range by Gillespie from Lisbie's centre. The home side continued to press well, with the ball not really reaching either final third in the opening quarter of an hour of the second half. The Saints had a rare chance from a corner, but the ball dropped dead in the six yard box from a knock down and Williams was first to react. Looking for a way back into the game, the U's replaced Antonio with Papa Waigo for the final half hour of the match. At the other end, White's cross into the area saw Lisbie try to acrobatically connect with the ball. When he missed, Gillespie could only half hit his shot, perhaps put off by his strike partner. A ball over the top of the U's defence saw Connolly get in behind but, as he went to head the ball, Williams was able to get back onto his line to collect the looping effort. And whilst the Saints were seeing more of the ball than in the first half, the U's were quick on the counter attack with Lisbie laying in Gillespie midway through the half, with the striker not quite able to get a clean connection on his shot. The visitors did have the ball in the back of the net on 70 minutes but, as the U's had been earlier in the half, the Saints were denied by the offside flag as the rebound was tucked home. The mist was descending on the stadium as the game entered its final twenty minutes but the U's determination to win the game still shone through. That was exemplified on 71 minutes as Lambert's free kick was well saved low to his right by Williams and Okuonghae was in place to block bravely from Connolly's follow-up. That defensive double proved crucial two minutes later as Ifil threaded through a superb ball to Gillespie and he kept his cool as Wordsworth had done in the first half to slot the ball past the keeper. Williams then pulled off another brilliant save from Lambert's close range effort to preserve the home side's advantage. Izzet was replaced by Fox and Gillespie by Thomas for the final fifteen minutes of the game, as the U's looked to stay in front. And the Frenchman almost made an immediate impact, using his pace and power to get past his man, but dragged his shot agonisingly wide of the target. Saints were pressing, but were being kept at bay by the U's as the game entered its final ten minutes. The U's were having chances of their own and Ifil's mazy run almost caused problems at the back before it was cleared from danger at the last minute. But the Saints were given a late bit of hope as Williams brought down his man in the box to give away a penalty right at the death. Lambert was the player on spot kick duties and the front man made no mistake from the spot.

The visitors were given hope by five minutes of additional time, but the U's continued to press for a match winning third to secure the victory.

Lisbie was withdrawn in that injury time as Heath came on to shore things up at the back.

The mist was deep by this point, so much so that it made life difficult to see the ball at the other end of the pitch.

But the U's maintained their clarity of mind to ensure that the Saints had no further sights of goal as the victory stayed on home soil.

U's: Williams, White, Okuonghae, Reid, Tierney, Ifil, O'Toole, Izzet (Fox), Wordsworth, Lisbie (Heath), Gillespie (Thomas)

Subs: Cousins, Batth, Hackney, Platt
    Data provided by Press Association

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