Clinical Colchester make it two in a row

COLCHESTER United recorded back-to-back victories for the first time in 19 months, thanks to some clinical finishing in the first-half at Northampton.

Carl Marston

Northampton Town 1 Colchester United 2

COLCHESTER United recorded back-to-back victories for the first time in 19 months, thanks to some clinical finishing in the first-half at Northampton.

The U's followed up their midweek home win over Yeovil with a precious away success at Sixfields, to pull themselves further clear of the relegation zone.


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Two goals in four minutes put the U's in the ascendancy midway through the first-half, thanks to accurate headers from Clive Platt and Paul Reid.

Platt had skipper Dean Hammond to thank for an awesome cross from the right flank. The U's big man headed home crisply from six yards out in the 22nd minute.

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Reid followed suit by nodding home Johnnie Jackson's corner, so chalking up his first goal for the U's, and against his old club.

Any hopes that United had of coasting through the second half were dashed when Danny Jackman's long range free-kick ended up in the net, due to a wicked deflection off the defensive wall, on 52 minutes.

The Cobblers went all out in search of an equaliser, and they peppered the target. But the U's held on gamely for a deserved victory.

U's boss Lambert handed debuts to keeper Jimmy Walker and left-back Marc Tierney, who had both arrived on loan on deadline day, from West Ham and Shrewsbury Town respectively.

Included in the Northampton line-up were the ex-Colchester duo of Scott McGleish and Luke Guttridge.

The U's were close to breaking the deadlock from their first corner in the sixth minute. An unmarked Chris Coyne flashed a header over the bar from Johnnie Jackson's delivery.

Coyne was again a nuisance for the Cobblers when contesting a free-kick, propelled into the box by Mark Yeates. The ball dropped for Dean Hammond, but the U's skipper dragged his wide.

U's old boy McGleish squandered a great opportunity to score in the 15th minute, much to the amusement of the travelling fans behind Walker's goal. He tried to back-heel home Leon Constantine's cross from point blank range, yet scuffed wide.

Two goals in four minutes put United in control midway through the first-half, to give them a deserved two-goal lead.

PLATT was the first marksman with his fourth goal of the season, although he was indebted to a great cross from Hammond. The U's striker could hardly miss as he powerfully headed home Hammond's cross from six yards out.

And REID scored from a similar distance to put the U's 2-0 up in the 26th minute. Yeates won a corner, and it was Jackson who curled over the perfect cross for Reid to climb high and head home his first goal for the U's, against his old club.

Northampton were visibly rattled by this double blow. Old U's boy Guttridge showed his frustration by trying his luck with an over-optimistic shot from 35 yards out, and was then booked for a late challenge on Hammond in the 33rd minute.

The U's domination continued and Yeates skipped past a couple of challenges, only to see his shot blocked by a defender.

Northampton had a good spell during the final 10 minutes of the first period, but without troubling Walker. Defender Andy Todd volleyed over from a corner, and Ryan Gilligan sliced into the side-netting.

However, the worst miss was from McGleish - the former U's favourite poked a shot wide with an empty goal beckoning on injury-time, following Danny Jackman's good run and accurate pass. That was a howler!

Half-time: Northampton 0 Colchester 2

Guttridge was replaced by substitute Nicholas Bignall for the start of the second half, so completing a miserable afternoon for the diminutive midfielder against his old club.

The U's had a couple of chances to increase their lead early in the second half. Jermaine Easter dragged a shot across goal, when put through by Jackson, and David Perkins crashed a shot over the bar.

But Northampton were handed a lifeline, thanks to a lucky deflection that led to JACKMAN scoring in the 52nd minute.

Jackman's long range free-kick took a huge deflection off the defensive wall, completely wrong-footing Walker to nestle in the far corner of the net. There was nothing the Hammers loanee could do about that.

Pat Baldwin was booked for dissent as the U's came under increasing pressure. McGleish squandered one more good chance before being replaced by substitute Ian Henderson in the 71st minute, and the U's also made a change with Kem Izzet replacing Yeates.

Both strikers, Platt and Easter, were booked in quick succession in the 80th and 81st minutes, and both for kicking the ball away after the whistle had gone. Easter's shot had actually ended up in the net!

Northampton stepped up a gear late on. Constantine was not far adrift with a 20-yard shot that ballooned over the bar, and Reid did well to block a goal-bound shot from Bignall at point blank range.

Liam Davis headed agonisingly wide in stoppage time, and the U's then played out time in the Cobblers half of the pitch to secure another away win.

Squads

NORTHAMPTON TOWN: Fielding 7, K Walker 6, Crowe 7, Todd 6, JACKMAN 8, Davis 7, Guttridge 5 (sub Bignall, 46) Coke 7, Gilligan 6 (sub Holt, 60), Constantine 7, McGleish 5 (sub Henderson, 71). Unused subs: Hughes, Dunn.

COLCHESTER UNITED: J Walker 7, Baldwin 7, Coyne 7, REID 8, Tierney 8, Yeates 6 (sub Izzet, 73), Hammond 7, Perkins 7, Jackson 7, Platt 7 (sub Vernon, 87), Easter 6. Unused subs: White, Ifil, Cousins.

Referee: Mr K Evans

Attendance: 4,833

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