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Match Report | Colchester United 1-1 Rochdale

Grant strike cancels out Judge's wonder-goal

1 February 2022

Colchester United had to settle for a point at home to Rochdale in a 1-1 draw at the JobServe Community Stadium.

After a deadlocked first half, it took an Alan Judge thunderbolt to open the scoring, with the Irishman volleying home from outside the area. 

The U's saw good chances go begging in front of goal, before conceding an equaliser to the travelling Rochdale side, as Grant netted fifteen minutes before time. 

Wayne Brown named a lineup with four changes from the team that started against Swindon Town on Saturday. 

Shamal George and Luke Chambers were both missing through suspension, with Brendan Wiredu and Luke Hannant dropping to the bench. 

Sam Hornby, a deadline day signing for the U's, was handed his first start in goal for the club, with Tom Eastman, Owura Edwards and John Akinde all coming into the starting lineup. 

The first half was a very tight and cagey affair between two sides that were working well defensively. There were just a couple of half-chances for either team, but no real clear-cut chances that meant one side would have taken a deserved lead at the half. 

Perhaps the best chance of the first forty-five minutes fell to the U's top scorer, Freddie Sears. After Judge's ball to Akinde was tangled up in the feet of two defenders, Sears arrived at pace on the edge of the area to shoot across Coleman's goal, forcing a good save out of the 'keeper as he pushed the effort around the post. 

Sam Hornby was left untroubled throughout the first period, but did take a knock on the hand when collecting the ball with Grant chasing him down, but was able to continue after shaking it off after the referee had stopped play. 

But the most exciting player throughout the first half for the U's was Owura Edwards, who was starting his second game for the club. Edwards' pacey runs down either flank, with Brown swapping him and Judge midway through the half, got the crowd going and proved a handful for the wing-backs of O'Keeffe and Clark. 

A deadlocked first forty-five minutes was brought to a halt by the officials, with both sides hoping for an improvement in front of goal in the second period. 

Whatever Wayne Brown had said to his players at half time though, galvanised their performance at the start of the second period. 

Alan Judge came out all guns blazing and smashed the U's ahead ten minutes after the break with a sublime effort. The U's took a throw from a relatively safe position from a Rochdale point of view. But Cole Skuse was able to knock the bouncing ball through to Judge, whose superb volley dipped under the bar from twenty-five yards out to give the U's the lead. 

And the U's had an excellent spell after finding the opener, and could have been further in front with chances falling to Sears, Edwards and Huws, with Judge the orchestrator. 

Sears was racing on to a ball over the top from Judge, but the retreating Jeriel Dorsett was able to get back in and put a crucial block in on the front man's shot and prevent further damage so soon after the first. 

The dangerous Owura Edwards was next to go close with what was a difficult chance to convert. Judge delivered the ball to the back post, and Edwards had to hit his effort first time, shooting just over the bar with Coleman given no chance. 

The best chance of the three fell to Emyr Huws, the hero from Saturday's draw against Swindon Town. It was the same combination of John Akinde nodding the ball back to the Welshman who was unfortunate to get under his effort on the six-yard line, and lift the shot over the bar. 

Rochdale looked to hit back, and make the home side rue their missed chances. And a spell of five minutes of pressure from the away side ensured they would be back in the game with fifteen minutes to play as Conor Grant struck beyond Hornby. Grant sprinted along the eighteen-yard line and shot back across goal to make it 1-1. 

The U's had to hold on for the last few moments of the game as Rochdale kept the press on, but they couldn't muster another goal, and actually struggled to test Hornby in the home goal. 

The game finished all square, with the U's moving up one place to twenty-first with twenty-seven points from as many games, leapfrogging Carlisle United with a superior goal difference. 

Up next for Wayne Brown's side is the away trip to Leyton Orient on Saturday afternoon, with a large travelling support expected for Colchester United. 

Colchester United starting XI: Hornby, Skuse (Wiredu 66'), Judge, Sears, Edwards, Dallison, Kenlock, Eastman, Tchamadeu, Akinde (Andrews 75'), Huws. 

Unused subs: Collins, Welch-Hayes, Hannant, Dobra, Coxe. 

Rochdale starting XI: Coleman, O'Keeffe, O'Connell, Newby (Charman 58'), Grant, Dorsett, Broadbent (Dooley 67'), Downing, Kelly, Clark, Campbell (Done 77').

Unused subs: White, Taylor, Odoh, Wade. 

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