Bitter-sweet night for Mooney

DAVID Mooney experienced a bitter-sweet night as Colchester United’s two-goal marksman was stretchered off during a comfortable Carling Cup success at Hereford.

Hereford Utd 0 Colchester Utd 3

DAVID Mooney experienced a bitter-sweet night as Colchester United’s two-goal marksman was stretchered off during a comfortable Carling Cup success at Hereford.

Mooney struck twice in a four-minute spell, just before half-time, to effectively book the U’s safe passage through to round two.

And when Ian Henderson curled home a spectacular third, midway through the second period, United’s job was over.

However, the gloss was taken off such a bright night for U’s boss John Ward when Mooney fell awkwardly and immediately began thumping the ground in considerable pain. A stretcher was quickly called.

It was a worrying end to what had been a slick performance from Mooney, who had been handed his full U’s debut following an appearance as a second-half substitute at Exeter City on Saturday.

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The Irishman, who is on a six-month loan from Reading, bagged two excellent goals in the 40th and 44th minutes.

The opener was a goal out of the blue. Marc Tierney’s deep cross looped into Mooney’s path, but there seemed little danger until the 25-year-old let rip with a sizzling volley, from a tight angle, that flew into the net via the far post from 18 yards out.

An on-fire Mooney doubled the lead with a very different goal just before the break. It was an impressive move which eventually saw Henderson square for Mooney to sidefoot coolly into the bottom of the net.

Hereford never really recovered, and any chances of a fightback were snuffed out by Henderson’s eye-catching finish in the 65th minute. He took his time before curling a shot from the edge of the box beyond the despairing dive of keeper Adam Bartlett.

After the match, U’s boss Ward suggested that Mooney’s injury might not be as bad as first feared.

“Both David (Mooney) and Andrew Bond have ankle injuries. Both took bad kicks, but hopefully they will not be as bad as ligament injuries,” revealed Ward.

“Only time will tell and we probably won’t know the extent of their injuries until Thursday. They are both key players for us.

“It was a very thorough team performance. Our boys really sorted the game out very quickly, against a big physical side who had done well to win at Crewe on Saturday.

“We scored three excellent goals. All of them were quality finishes.

“David Mooney’s touch play is good, bringing other players into the game. I had started with him to see what he could do, and his goals were superb,” added Ward.

Mooney’s inclusion was the one change from the U’s side that recorded a 2-2 draw at Exeter City on the opening day. The Reading loanee was handed his full U’s debut as the lone striker, flanked by wide-men Anthony Wordsworth and Henderson.

Henderson was close to breaking the deadlock after just 20 seconds. He scampered clear of a flat-footed Hereford defence and tried his luck with a toe-poked effort that keeper Adam Bartlett did well to turn away.

Hereford had early chances themselves, most notably when big front-man Mathieu Manset spooned a header over the bar from a good position, following a free-kick.

A mistake by Magnus Okuonghae nearly gifted the Bulls an opening goal in the 20th minute. The U’s centre-half was deceived by a huge punt upfield from keeper Bartlett, allowing Stuart Fleetwood a clear route to goal. The lively striker’s final shot was well smothered by Mark Cousins, who dropped to his haunches to gather.

The League Two hosts threatened again just after the half-hour mark. In fact, it required a superb block from the brave Okuonghae, at point blank range, to prevent defender Michael Townsend’s shot from flying into the net. The follow-up effort from the impressive Joe Colbeck was charged down by Paul Reid.

The U’s were on the back foot and Cousins had to be quick to drop on Manset’s snap shot on 36 minutes, to stop the ball from sneaking in at his near post.

However, the wind was taken out of Hereford’s sails by Mooney’s double strike, just before half-time. Both were quality finishes.

It was nearly 3-0 in first-half stoppage time, as David Perkins lashed in a long-range shot that Bartlett was relieved to cling onto.

Hereford never looked like mounting a second-half comeback, and their frustration was summed up by two rash challenges on David Perkins, which resulted in bookings for Manset and James McQuilkin around the hour mark.

Wordsworth flashed a header wide of target, as the U’s remained in control, and it was no real surprise when Henderson curled home a delightful third goal in the 65th minute.

The edge was taken off the U’s great night by an injury to Mooney, which saw the two-goal marksman stretchered off in some pain with just a quarter of the game to go.

Two minutes later and Manset was lucky to still be on the pitch. The Hereford No. 9, already on a booking, ploughed into Kem Izzet but escaped with just a lecture from referee Chris Sarginson.

Mooney’s replacement, Kayode Odejayi, looked odds on to net a fourth goal in the 80th minute. He was through on goal and on the point of shooting, only to be robbed by a last ditch tackle from Michael Townsend.

Hereford hit the post late on through Daniel Stratford, to be denied even a consolation.

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