Colchester United fell to a two-goal defeat at St James Park this afternoon, with a goal in either half from Exeter City.
Jack Sparkes kicked things off for the Grecians with a goal half hour into the game, with former U’s man Jevani Brown providing the assist. Brown picked out his teammate with Sparkes calmly slotting home for the first.
The second came after the break, when Matt Jay unselfishly headed the ball back across goal to Offrande Zanzala from Josh Key’s cross. The second settled the home side down as they looked in control for the remainder of the match.
Wayne Brown named a team with three changes, with Alan Judge, Myles Kenlock and Tyreik Wright all dropping to the bench at St James Park. Tommy Smith, Luke Hannant and Emyr Huws came in to take their places as the U's looked to bounce back from their defeat in the last game, at home to Stevenage.
The U's had put up a brave defence in the opening half an hour, with the hosts piling the pressure on to keep Wayne Brown's side penned in their own half for much of the play. There were glimpes of counter-attacking football, with Sears putting in the leg work surrounded by Exeter defenders, but the hosts took a deserved advantage thirty-one minutes into the contest.
Former U's man Jevani Brown got his twelfth assist of the season, spotting the wing-back, Jack Sparkes, making a run fown the left flank. And Sparkes was able to control the accurate pass, picking his spot in the bottom corner and shooting beyond Shamal George to make it 1-0.
Colchester United headed to the break a goal down, and were perhaps a little fortunate not to be further behind. Chances came and went for Matt Taylor’s side as Archie Collins saw his curling effort rebound off the woodwork, and Jevani Brown also had a shot that was blocked from close range.
But the hosts would have been content with their first forty-five minutes, holding the advantage at the break with the U’s needing to work hard to get back into the game in the second period.
The home onslaught continued for the minutes straight after the break, with Dieng seeing an effort deflected into the side netting of Shamal George’s goal. And from the resultant corner, Sam Stubbs looked to have got his side’s second connecting with Jevani Brown’s corner, but the ball whistled just wide of the post.
Twenty minutes into the second period, the hosts had their second of the game, with Offrande Zanzala on target. Key’s persistence down the right flank earned him the space and time to pick a cross to Matt Jay at the back post, who was able to cut it back to Zanzala to nod into the empty net.
With just over ten minutes to go, the U’s thought they had a lifeline in the game, but the hope was short-lived. Brendan Wiredu was the man to put the ball in the back of the host’s net from Alan Judge’s excellent delivery, but he was adjudged to have used his arm in the process, with the referee ruling the goal out.
Shamal George was on hand to produce another fine save before the game came to an end, this time getting a strong right hand to Padraig Amond’s header with the full-time whistle blowing five minutes later.
The defeat means the U’s remain in twentieth position, with Barrow, Oldham and Stevenage all due to play later on Saturday afternoon.
Exeter City starting XI: Dawson, Sparkes, Stubbs, Jay (Rowe 86’), Collins, Key, Dieng, Zanzala (Amond 77’), Brown, Sweeney, Hartridge (Diabate 75’).
Unused subs: Brown, Caprice, Phillips, Coley.
Colchester United starting XI: George, Chambers, Smith, Wiredu, Hannant (Judge 64’), Skuse, Sears, Chilvers (Wright 76’), Eastman, Coxe, Huws (Akinde 64’).
Unused subs: Hornby, Welch-Hayes, Kenlock, Tchamadeu.