Beaten in the Lions’ Den: Colchester United have now conceded 41 goals in 18 league games
Millwall 4 Colchester United 1
Colchester United’s leaky defence again let them down as they succumbed to a fourth successive away league defeat.
Hosts Millwall did not have to work too hard for their 4-1 home win in South London this afternoon, to extend their unbeaten run to nine games in all competitions.
An opener from Lee Gregory, a brace from Shane Ferguson, and a late strike by Byron Webster, eased the Lions to victory, despite club captain Chris Porter making it 2-1 with an accurate shot within nine minutes of coming on as a half-time substitute.
The U’s have now conceded 41 goals in 18 league games, easily the worst defensive record in the Football League.
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The U’s fell behind in the 13th minute. Tom Eastman failed to intercept a lofted ball forward, allowing Gregory to sneak in behind him and run through to slot calmly past the onrushing Jamie Jones.
Yet more dreadful defending allowed Millwall to double their lead in the 38th minute. George Elokobi completely lost his footing, and Jones was again left exposed as Steve Morison teed up Ferguson, who swept home from 10 yards out.
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Half-time substitute, Porter, gave the U’s hope of a recovery when he halved the deficit in the 54th minute.
Lions left-back Joe Martin made a hash of trying to clear Callum Harriott’s cross, and Porter took full advantage, slamming home the ball from a central position.
But the South Londoners restored their two-goal lead in the 64th minute, an unmarked Ferguson scampering through to drill past Jones.
Defender Webster then rifled home a late fourth, in the 82nd minute, after Jones had done well to block an initial effort from a corner.
That proved to be game, set and match, to the dominant hosts.
The U’s showed three changes to the side that lost 3-1 at home to Coventry City last weekend.
Matt Briggs and Frankie Kent were both sidelined through illness, so in came Tosin Olufemi at left-back and Elokobi at centre-half. The other change saw Gavin Massey preferred to Tom Lapslie in midfield.
The U’s started brightly, and forced a couple of early corners, but it was Millwall who threatened first with striker Steve Morison sending a free header wide at the far post, from a looping corner.
And it was not long before the Lions were ahead, thanks to Gregory’s clinical finish on 13 minutes. That was a case of some shocking U’s defending.
For the next few minutes, it looked as though the visitors, who were all at sea at the back, might concede a quickfire second.
They managed to hold the Lions at the bay, while at the other Marvin Sordell scuffed a 30-yarder well wide of target.
There were worrying signs again on 26 minutes. Centre-half Webster was unmarked from a corner routine, but headed wide, much to his annoyance.
Only the woodwork denied Millwall a second goal, just before the half-hour mark.
Elokobi’s tame header dropped short of Jones, enabling predator Gregory to pounce on the loose ball and round the U’s keeper. The angle was tight, even though an empty goal beckoned, and Gregory’s final shot clipped the post and rolled to safety.
George Moncur curled a shot wide, from just outside the box, but it was not until the 35th minute that the visitors managed a shot on target, Olufemi’s rather weak effort being safely gathered by keeper Jordan Archer.
The U’s did have a purple patch, in terms of possession, but that was soon snuffed out by Millwall’s second goal in the 38th minute, Ferguson slotting home after Elokobi’s loss of footing.
It was another soft goal to concede, and Jones was at full stretch to palm away a goal-bound header by Morison in the 41st minute. He diverted the ball around his far post.
The U’s made a change at half-time, with Porter replacing Sordell up front, and the U’s club captain did not take long to make an impact.
Porter halved the deficit just nine minutes into the second half with a smart finish from 10 yards out, following an error by Joe Martin.
Macauley Bonne almost equalised on the hour mark, only to volley over the bar from point blank range, following Harriott’s cross.
And Millwall restored their two-goal advantage shortly afterwards, thanks to Ferguson’s second goal of the game on 63 minutes.
Webster added a fourth in the 82nd minute to complete the U’s misery.
MILLWALL: Archer, Cummings, Webster, Beevers, J Martin, Williams, Ferguson (sub Onyedinma, 71), Saville, O’Brien (sub Upson, 79), Morison, Gregory (sub L Martin, 84). Unused subs: Forde, Nelson, Thompson, Romeo.
COLCHESTER: Jones, Edwards, Eastman, Elokobi, Olufemi, Gilbey, Bonne, Moncur, Massey, Harriott, Sordell (sub Porter, 46). Unused subs: Parish, Wright, Lapslie, Sembie-Ferris, Curtis, Jaames.
Referee: Tim Robinson
Attendance: 8,739 (442 away fans)