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U’s slump to eighth defeat in nine games

16:53 22 December 2012

Jabo Ibehre, who hit the bar at Walsall this afternoon, but was later substituted because of a suspected rib injury

Jabo Ibehre, who hit the bar at Walsall this afternoon, but was later substituted because of a suspected rib injury

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Walsall 1 Colchester United 0

COLCHESTER United’s miserable losing run continued at a rain-lashed West Midlands this afternoon.

Joe Dunne’s men slumped to the eighth defeat in their last nine games, to leave them facing up to a relegation battle over the coming weeks.

Febian Brandy was the match-winner, slotting home on 62 minutes to end Walsall’s own desperate recent run.

Before today, the Saddlers had not won since the end of September, a run stretching to 16 games. But it was 17th time lucky, against an out-of-sorts U’s.

Man-of-the-match Brandy burst onto Sam Mantom’s through ball and kept his composure to slide the ball beyond the reach of Mark Cousins, for what proved to be the only goal of the game.

The U’s had come close to scoring on the half-hour mark, when Jabo Ibehre’s lob struck the bar, but in truth Walsall were the better team.

U’s boss Dunne made two changes to the side that suffered a 1-0 defeat at Bournemouth last weekend. In came striker Clinton Morrison and Brian Wilson, for John-Joe O’Toole and Dan Potts.

The inclusion of Morrison meant a switch to a 4-4-2 formation, with the adaptable Wilson playing on the right flank rather than in his more customary right-back role.

But it was Walsall who enjoyed the better of the first half-hour, with right winger Brandy a particular danger.

Brandy was close to breaking the deadlock on 12 minutes. His 20-yard shot took a big deflection off Tom Eastman and flew into the side-netting, with Cousins wrong-footed.

And the impressive Brandy threatened again in 27th minute, charging onto Craig Westcarr’s well-weighted pass, only to drag his final shot across the face of goal and wide.

The U’s gradually began to have some attacking joy themselves, most notably when Wilson volleyed narrowly over from Freddie Sears’ delivery.

And only the woodwork denied the visitors an opening goal on the half-hour mark. Ibehre trapped John White’s lofted pass and executed a lob over the onrushing Aaron McCarey. The ball thudded back off the underside of the bar and rolled to safety.

Walsall regained the initiative, either side of half-time, raining in shots from all angles as the U’s goal lived a charmed life.

And Cousins was at his best to thwart the Saddlers twice on 48 minutes. The U’s keeper was at full stretch to beat away Will Grigg’s goal-bound shot, and he recovered well to block the follow up effort by Brandy.

However, Cousins had little chance when Brandy burst clear to sweep Walsall into a 1-0 lead on 62 minutes.

The U’s were unable to hit back during the final quarter of the game, although a header from Josh Thompson did clip the top of the bar in the last minute of normal time.

SQUADS

WALSALL: McCarey, Butler, Purkiss, Downing, Taylor, A Chambers, Paterson (sub Cuvelier, 77), Brandy, Mantom, Westcarr, Grigg (sub Bowerman, 59). Unused subs: Holden, Hemmings, Benning, Baxendale, Grof.

COLCHESTER: Cousins, White, Thompson, Eastman, Rose (sub Wright, 46), Wilson, Izzet, Wordsworth, Sears (sub O’Toole, 72), Morrison, Ibehre (sub Henderson, 60). Unused subs: Okuonghae, Bean, Potts, Pentney.

Referee: Mr A Madley

Attendance: 3,006

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