Chris Porter nets a quality brace in Colchester United’s home victory
Colchester United 3 Blackpool 2
Colchester United rallied strongly to secure a third home win of the season, at the expense of visiting Blackpool this afternoon.
Armand Gnanduillet’s early opener was cancelled out by a good finish from Sammie Szmodics and a sweet brace from Chris Porter.
The U’s were caught by a sucker punch in the 13th minute.
Gnanduillet controlled fellow striker Kyle Vassell’s through ball and managed to hold off the challenge of Tom Eastman, before directing his shot beyond keeper Sam Walker and into the net.
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The home side really struggled to get going, but Szmodics lifted the gloom with a well-worked equaliser in the 36th minute.
Szmodics received the ball from the onrushing Richard Brindley and turned on a sixpence before sweeping his shot high past keeper Sam Slocombe and into the roof of the net.
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The U’s were slightly fortuitous to be level at half-time, but they stepped up a gear after the break and Porter nudged them in front on 56 minutes.
Substitute Tarique Fosu nodded on Brennan Dickenson’s corner and, with Slocombe out-of-position, Porter stuck out a leg to divert home his second goal of the season, from close in.
And it was Porter who wrapped up the points with another class finish in the 84th minute.
The big man latched onto Fosu’s pass and deceived his marker by turning and then sliding a shot beyond Slocombe.
Blackpool pulled a goal back in the 89th minute, Brad Potts’ ferocious free-kick beating Walker from 20 yards out.
But it was too little, too late, for the Seasiders.
U’s boss John McGreal had named an unchanged starting line-up, despite the previous weekend’s 3-2 home defeat to Exeter. Recently-acquired loanees Glen Kamara and Fosu were both on the bench.
It was less surprising that Blackpool manager, Gary Bowyer, stuck with the same side that tasted a 3-0 win at Yeovil last Saturday.
And it was the visitors who settled the better, striker Vassell lashing in a fourth-minute shot which keeper Walker comfortably saved.
The U’s did not threaten until the 10th minute, when livewire Szmodics rifled a shot a foot wide of the far post, from the edge of the box.
Three minutes later and Blackpool were ahead, thanks to Gnanduillet’s slick finish from Vassell’s through ball.
The U’s continued to be second best.
Walker smothered a deflected shot from a confident Gnanduillet on 15 minutes and, midway through the first half, the U’s keeper knew very little about Danny Pugh’s curling free-kick from the right flank, although he did manage to flap the ball to safety.
At the other end, Drey Wright did well to scamper down the flank and whip over a dangerous cross into the six-yard box.
Chris Porter was homing in on goal, but centre-half Tom Aldred, playing against his one of his old clubs, intervened with an important touch to thwart the U’s striker.
Another U’s attack broke down in the 28th minute, exposing the back-line, and winger Brad Potts was only a whisker away with a low drive which skidded a foot wide of the near upright.
Just after the half-hour mark, Dickenson skipped past a couple of challenges and found Szmodics on the edge of the six-yard box, but the U’s midfielder had strayed in an offside position as his shot dropped wide of target.
However, Szmodics was in an onside position on 36 minutes, as he swatted home a quality equaliser for the hosts.
The home fans were baying for a red card, when Aldred crudely upended Porter in the 40th minute, but the defender escaped with a booking.
McGreal made a change for the start of the second half, with substitute Fosu on for Lewis Kinsella.
Dickenson dropped back to left-back, to allow Reading loanee Fosu to operate further up the left flank. It was second U’s appearance, following his debut against Exeter.
It was a brighter start to the second period, from the U’s, and a fiercely struck shot from Wright was on target, until it ballooned off a defender and looped over the bar.
On 50 minutes, Szmodics scurried into the box and floated over a teasing cross to the back post for Guthrie, whose header dropped agonisingly wide.
Guthrie peppered the target again, just two minutes later, as his towering header from Dickenson’s corner was superbly tipped over the bar by keeper Slocombe.
So it was no real surprise when Porter poked the U’s into a 2-1 lead, from close range, in the 56th minute.
The game was opening up. Walker dived to his right to push away a goal-bound header from Potts, while at the other end the U’s broke quickly with Fosu forcing a smart save from Slocombe, down at his near post.
Szmodics was close to netting his second goal of the afternoon, in the 76th minute. He chased onto Fosu’s forward pass but, Slocombe dived at his feet to save.
Porter did grab the U’s third in the 84th minute, and he nearly completed his hat-trick just two minutes later with a shot that rolled across the face of goal and wide of the far upright.
Potts rammed home a free-kick, to make it 3-2 on 89 minutes, but the U’s held on.
COLCHESTER UNITED: Walker, Brindley, Prosser, Eastman, Kinsella (sub Fosu, 46), Lapslie (sub Slater, 74), Szmodics, Guthrie (sub Kamara, 70), Wright, Porter, Dickenson. Unused subs: Bransgrove, Vincent-Young, Wynter, Johnstone.
BLACKPOOL: Slocombe, Mellor, Robertson, Aldred, Taylor, Potts, McAlister (sub Payne, 78), Pugh, Daniel (sub Osayi-Samuel, 57), Vassell (sub Philliskirk, 78), Gnanduillet. Unused subs: Lyness, Aimson, Yeates, Cain, Payne.
Referee: Brendane Malone (Wiltshire)
Attendance: 3,077 (202 away fans)