Brennan Dickenson inspires Colchester United to a home victory over the Stags

Brennan Dickenson (centre), Rekeil Pyke and Sean Murray congratulate Sammie Szmodics after the midfi

Brennan Dickenson (centre), Rekeil Pyke and Sean Murray congratulate Sammie Szmodics after the midfielder had put the U's 2-0 ahead against Mansfield tonight. Picture: STEVE WALLER - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Colchester United 2 Mansfield Town 0

First-half goals by Brennan Dickenson and Sammie Szmodics boosted Colchester United’s play-off hopes, at the expense of promotion rivals Mansfield this evening.

The Stags created the bulk of the scoring chances, but Steve Evans’ men endured a dire night in front of goal, with striker Matt Green the main culprit – he missed absolute sitters in each half.

An in-form Dickenson broke the deadlock with a wonderful solo goal in the 20th minute.

Dickenson latched onto Sean Murray’s pass and cut inside defender Hayden White before unleashing a low shot which flew into the net via the inside of the far post, giving keeper Scott Shearer no chance.

And Dickenson turned creator to double the U’s lead on 28 minutes.

The U’s left wing-back, enjoying acres of space down the flank, picked out Szmodics inside the penalty area. Szmodics turned to lash home a low shot into the far corner of the net, from 10 yards out.

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It was Szmodics’ second goal in three appearances, since his long-awaited return from a foot injury, which had spanned four months.

There was no way back for Mansfield, despite them completely dominating the second period.

The U’s have now won eight of their last 10 home matches, a terrific effort.

They handed a first start to Rekeil Pyke, the Huddersfield loanee playing up front with Chris Porter, in what was the only change to the side that were hammered 4-0 at home to Portsmouth on Saturday.

Owen Garvan was the player to miss out – the central midfielder had been struggling with injury for a few weeks.

The U’s nearly scored at both ends of the pitch inside the first few minutes. Matt Briggs volleyed narrowly wide of his own goal, after an intended clearance went awry, while at the right end of the pitch Szmodics saw his low shot squirm wide of target.

Green spurned a great chance to break the deadlock for Mansfield on 14 minutes. The Stags leading scorer ballooned a shot over the bar, with the goal beckoning from just 10 yards out.

Six minutes later and Dickenson showed Green how to finish, crashing a shot home via the inside of the far post for his 10th goal of the campaign.

The Stags tried to respond quickly, but George Elokobi was in the right place to block Rhys Bennett’s angled drive in front of the near post, on 24 minutes.

And the visitors’ task was made doubly difficult by Szmodics firing home on the turn, to put the U’s 2-0 up in the 28th minute, following more good work by Dickenson.

Mansfield failed to threaten U’s keeper Sam Walker in the first half, and they were found wanting at the start of the second period as well.

Left-back Malvind Bennning screwed a shot wide from an excellent position in the 47th minute, and just seconds later Green missed his second sitter of the night, blazing his shot high and wide from close-in.

The visitors continued to press, but also continued to fluff their lines, despite several goalmouth scrambles, including a goal-saving double-block on the hour mark which featured a fine save from Walker.


COLCHESTER: Walker, James (sub Vincent-Young, 90), Elokobi, Briggs, Wright, Lapslie, Murray, Dickenson, Szmodics (sub Bonne, 81), Porter, Pyke (sub Wynter, 64). Unused subs: Barnes, Fosu, Kinsella, Edge.

MANSFIELD: Shearer, Bennett, Pearce, Bennett, White, Collins (sub Hamilton, 46), Byrom, Whiteman, MacDonald (sub Coulthirst, 64), Hemmings (sub Rose, 46)Green. Unused subs: Jensen, Potter, Howkins, Arquin.

Referee: Nicholas Kinseley (Essex)

Attendance: 2,526 (172 away fans)

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