Brennan Dickenson and Denny Johnstone on target in Colchester victory
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Colchester United 2 Cambridge United 0
Summer recruits Brennan Dickenson and Denny Johnstone were both on target as Colchester United kicked off their home campaign, back in the fourth tier, with a welcome win in the East Anglian derby this afternoon.
It was a cracking finish by Dickenson, on his Colchester league debut – he had missed the 1-1 draw at Hartlepool last weekend, with an ankle injury.
The ex-Gillingham left winger connected with a sweet shot, from the edge of the penalty area, the ball flying into the bottom corner of the net with keeper Will Norris beaten.
Dickenson’s arrived after just eight minutes of an entertaining clash, which saw the return of former Colchester manager Joe Dunne, in the guise of Cambridge’s assistant manager.
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And Dickenson was behind the U’s second goal, scored by Scotsman Johnstone in the 81st minute.
Dickenson whipped over a cross and substitute Johnstone rose high to head the ball into the roof of the net from close-in.
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There was no way back for Cambridge.
After a very even opening few minutes, the home side took charge with Dickenson’s terrific eighth minute strike to put them 1-0 up.
Encouraged by this early goal, the U’s first home goal of the season, they were soon on the attack again, gunning for a quickfire second.
Sammie Szmodics had a rising shot tipped over the bar by the backpedalling Will Norris on 10 minutes, and from the ensuing corner, Richard Brindley miscued a 25-yarder wide of target.
Dickenson came close to a second when he was fed by the tenacious Szmodics, deep inside the penalty area. The angle was tight, and Dickenson’s snap shot was charged down by a defender in front of the near post.
Cambridge soaked up the pressure and only the superb reactions of Sam Walker denied them an equaliser in the 16th minute.
Joe Pigott made room for himself in the box and was left unchallenged as he fired in a goalbound shot which was superbly turned away by the diving Walker.
At the other end, the hosts had appeals for a penalty turned down in the 19th minute, when Szmodics went to ground just outside the six-yard box. The U’s attacking midfielder appealed for a spot kick, but referee Ollie Yates merely waved play on.
McGreal’s men were attacking again in the 28th minute, via Dickenson’s teasing corner. Captain Luke Prosser got his head to the cross, but was off balance and the ball skidded wide.
A terrific challenge by young left-back Lewis Kinsella, on winger Luke Berry near the touch-line on the half-hour mark, summed up the impressive start from the U’s. It drew applause from the home fans.
Drey Wright, seeing a lot of the ball down the right, homed in on goal in the 38th minute, although his goal-bound shot was eventually deflected around the near post for a corner.
Colchester ended the first half on top, and another cracking shot by the impressive Szmodics was well-blocked by substitute Roberts, who had replaced Tom Dallison at the back in the 42nd minute in a tactical switch.
Into the second period and Cambridge were on the back foot as Chris Porter’s dangerous cross into the six-yard box, on 54 minutes, was only just cut out by an outstretched leg from centre-half Leon Legge.
From the following corner, Tom Eastman, who had scored the U’s first goal of the season from a corner in last weekend’s 1-1 draw at Hartlepool, fired in another close-range shot which was blocked by a defender.
Just before the hour mark, the onrushing Porter was just a whisker away from heading home Wright’s terrific cross from the right flank. The big man arrived just a split second too late to bury the chance, in front of goal.
Former Colchester winger Medy Elito, on as a 58th minute substitute, so nearly equalised for the visitors in the 64th minute, only for his glancing header to clip the top of the bar from six yards out.
Seconds later and Porter, on the break, fired in a rising shot which Norris, the ex-Braintree Town keeper, did well to beat away.
Substitute Johnstone flashed a shot wide of target in the 75th minute, and then broke clear with Guthrie, although neither player was able to register a shot in anger despite Cambridge’s defence being well stretched.
But the home side did double their lead in the 82nd minute, thanks to Johnstone’s bullet header from Dickenson’s precise cross.
COLCHESTER: Walker, Brindley, Prosser, Eastman, Kinsella. Lapslie, Wright, Szmodics (sub Loft, 66), Guthrie (sub Slater, 90+1), Dickenson, Porter (sub Johnstone, 71). Unused subs: Bransgrove, Vincent-Young, Wynter, Sembie-Ferris.
CANBRIDGE; Norris, Long, Dallison (sub Roberts, 42), Legge, Taylor, Berry, Dunne, Mingoia, Maris (sub Newton, 46), Pigott, Williamson (sub Elito, 58). Unused subs: Gregory, Adams, Keane, Clark.
Referee: Ollie Yates (Staffs)
Attendance: 4,521 (1,098 away fans)