Colchester United defeated bogey team Crawley Town on Saturday, with a resounding first half performance in which the U’s scored all three of their goals.
The first half was one-way traffic as goals from Sammie Szmodics, Ryan Jackson and Mikael Mandron gave the U’s a commanding lead at the break. Jimmy Smith did pull one back for the visitors but it wasn’t enough, as the U’s ran out victorious and claimed all three points.
Szmodics gave the U’s a perfect start and opened the scoring with a thundering volley in the opening ten minutes. Some good combination play between Mandron and Nicke Kabamba released Jackson on the right hand side. His floated cross was half headed away by Josh Yorweth, but only into the path of Szmodics who rifled the ball past Glenn Morris emphatically.
Moments later it was two as Jackson doubled the U’s lead. Szmodics this time turned provider and played a clever ball into Jackson who found himself in acres of space.
The former Gillingham man had Mandron and Kabamba waiting in the middle but opted to go alone, which turned out to be a good decision, as he smashed it past the helpless Morris from a tight angle to make it 2-0.
Lewis Kinsella and Dean Cox were then both booked within moments of each other; Kinsella for a mistimed tackle on Panutche Camara, whilst Cox received his yellow card for a poor challenge on Tom Lapslie.
The game then opened up slightly and both teams were creating chances; Mandron had a header scrape the woodwork whilst Mark Randall tested Sam Walker with a shot from distance.
Mandron did then make it three with a close range effort after some excellent build up play by the U’s. Deadline day signing Brandon Comley fired in a deep cross that was headed back across goal by Frankie Kent and right into the path of Mandron who made no mistake and headed into the empty net.
Crawley had a chance to pull one back on the stroke of half time as Camara poked the ball past Walker but the combination of Tom Eastman and Szmodics somehow managed to clear and preserve the U’s clean sheet.
The U’s started the second half in the same manner as the first; on loan Crystal Palace man Ryan Inniss had a header cleared off the line whilst Comley came close to opening his account and forced a shrewd save from Morris.
Crawley were awarded a penalty ten minutes into the second half as referee Graham Horwood deemed that Inniss had fouled Yorweth following a corner. Randall stepped up for the Reds, but Sam Walker got down low and fast to make an excellent save whilst Cameron James, a half time substitute for Kent, acrobatically cleared to deny Randall a rebound tap in.
The visitors had applied extra pressure up top since half time and were finally rewarded as skipper Jimmy Smith prodded past Walker following a Crawley corner to make it 3-1.
Entering the final 20 minutes, Mandron saw his speculative effort go well wide whilst Smith was causing havoc and had a couple of chances for the visitors, both times being well denied by Walker in the U’s net.
An altercation between Lapslie and substitute Dennon Lewis slowed the tempo of the game right down during its final phases and the U’s saw the game out and recorded their second league win of the season.
This victory takes John McGreal’s men to 14th in League Two and his side will took to build on this solid performance at home to Chesterfield on Tuesday night.