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Kick off 19:45 (UK)

03 September 2019 Venue Priestfield Stadium Attendance

Kick off 19:45 (UK)

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Match Reports

U's Win Five Goal Thriller

First group stage game ends in 3-2 U's victory

3 September 2019

Colchester United have beaten Gillingham 3-2 in the Trophy group stages, to extend their unbeaten run.

Paris Cowan-Hall opened the scoring on eight minutes, but the scores were level before half time as Stuart O'Keefe equalised.

The U's regained the lead nine minutes into the second half, with Cowan-Hall doubling his tally, and then made it 3-1 through Theo Robinson.

Former U's striker Mikael Mandron made things interesting with a Gillingham second, but the U's held on for the three points from the first group game in the competition.

At the very start of the game, the hosts pushed forward, and within ninety seconds they had their first effort at goal.

Mikael Ndjoli should have done better with his volley though, not testing Ethan Ross in the U’s goal.

In the U’s first real attack of the game, on seven minutes, Paris Cowan-Hall scored his first Colchester United goal.

Jevani Brown started the move, threaded a lovely ball between defenders for Theo Robinson to run onto.

The Southend loanee clipped the ball over the advancing keeper but it did need the tap in from Cowan-Hall to put the U’s ahead.

Ross was then in action twice in a couple of minutes, first smothering to deny Ndjoli and then safely taking a free-kick from Regan Charles-Cook.

In what was to be a rare first half attack for the U’s, Kwame Poku was denied twice by defensive blocks before Robinson miscued his far post volley from a Cowan-Hall cross.

Halfway through the first period, the hosts were level – but it was an effort that did come out of the blue.

The ball dropped outside the U’s penalty area and it looked to be bouncing awkwardly for home captain Stuart O’Keefe.

He watched it superbly onto his foot, and the half volley flew past Ross into the bottom corner to make it 1-1.

The U’s spent the rest of the half keeping the hosts at arms’ length, but the Gills did have half chances as the half ticked to a close.

Charles-Cook shot over, Ndjoli was denied by a near post and former U’s forward Mikael Mandron had an effort blocked and mishit another effort.

The half time whistle went after two uneventful minutes of injury time, and the teams left the pitch with the game all square.

The second half began as the first ended, with the hosts having possession but the U’s controlling where they had that possession.

And like in the first half, the U’s scored first.

Robinson got in on the left angle of the box, dragged the ball onto his right foot, and whipped a low effort that evaded everyone at the near post and nestled in the bottom far corner.

On the hour, the U’s made an enforced change, with Omar Sowunmi going off to be replaced by Tom Eastman in a straight swap at centre back.

And a minute later, the U’s made it 3-1 with a second goal for Cowan-Hall.

Clampin started the move with a strong run towards the edge of the box, then Robinson and Poku were involved before the latter slipped a clever ball out to the right.

Cowan-Hall took a touch before rifling a shot off the underside of the bar and in past the helpless Walsh in the home goal.

Poku himself then had a shot saved as the U’s looked to extend the lead further.

Cowan-Hall’s excellent night’s work came to an end on seventy five minutes, as he was replaced by Courtney Senior.

Senior could only watch two minutes later as former U’s striker Mandron headed home at the far post from a left wing corner.

Cameron James came on for Noah Chilvers as the final change on eighty minutes and he was straight into the game with a near post clearance from a low cross.

Six minutes of injury time were signalled by the fourth official, and in the first, Mandron had the ball in the net.

He had pushed Eastman as the ball came across though, and the score remained 3-2 to the U’s.

Ross then denied the Gills a late leveller, smothering the ball when it looked like defender Tom O’Connor would score.

The final whistle went seconds later, and the U’s start the group stages of the trophy with three points ahead of games against Spurs’ youngsters and Ipswich.

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