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Club News

Player Watch: Rochdale

9 May 2016

We take a look at James Bransgrove's debut performance.

Youngster James Bransgrove made a steady start to his Colchester United career, despite U’s being beaten 2-1 by Rochdale at the Weston Homes Community Stadium.

Sunday's final game of the season saw young goalkeeper James Bransgrove make his first team debut. Matt Lee took a look at how the shot stopper got on against Rochdale.

The U's shot-stopper was given his first start in a U’s shirt after fellow academy 'keeper Dillon Barnes was held up in traffic prior to the game, and a fine performance throughout the match makes him a contender for the number one shirt next season.

Bransgrove – who renewed his contract until the summer of 2019 ahead of the game - was beaten on 17 minutes by the opening goal of the match, but could do little about Dale's first.

Joe Edwards gave the ball away to Ian Henderson and Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, and the duo burst down the pitch before Mendez-Laing nestled his shot in the bottom right corner.

The academy graduate was at no fault for the U’s 98th conceded goal this season, adjusting himself correctly as the visiting pair broke away, but his outstretched diving save at the near post was not enough to stop the goal.

In the opening half, he grew more and more confident, demonstrating some excellent distribution with both his hands and feet.

The former Brentford youngster was happy to release the ball to either side of his goal, allowing his team mates to make a number of chances against their resolute opponents.

His fine throwing and kicking enabled full backs Matthew Briggs and Joe Edwards to pull out wide so the central midfielders had more space in the centre of the park.

A positive first half from Bransgrove allowed him to demonstrate his talent at distributing the ball, command his defence as well as showing his quick reactions to get down to his feet at speed.

It took the U's 53 minutes to bring themselves back on level terms, and their equaliser came from Joe Edwards' top corner strike.

James made a superb save midway through the second half, substitute Calvin Andrew fired a header downwards, Bransgrove showed that his second sport is cricket by pulling off a fine reaction save, from point blank range, on the floor.

Rochdale's lead was restored on 69 minutes, with Andrew curling a shot into the top right corner. Bransgrove was – as with the game’s opening goal – at no fault. The U's had opportunities to close down Andrew, but he found enough space to wrap his right foot around the ball and curl it into the top corner.

Rochdale settled into their 2-1 lead and despite Colchester's attacks on their goal, they held on to secure a victory.

One thing is for certain however – he is one to look out for in the future.

Bransgrove made a superb impression on the U's fans, and his tremendous performance gave him an experience of League One football, as well as developing him into a contender for a starting place, or back-up, for next season.

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