Colchester pegged back at home again
npower League One Colchester United 1 Plymouth Argyle 1 COLCHESTER United drew 1-1 having been in front for the third successive home game.
The U’s dominated the first half against a negative Plymouth line-up and deservedly led at the break courtesy of Andy Bond’s 22nd minute header from an Anthony Wordsworth corner.
The visitors equalised three minutes after the break though when defender Reda Johnson forced the ball home at the near post after a long throw from Cari Arnason.
It was a much more even encounter in the second half after visiting boss Peter Reid tweaked his formation to match that of the hosts.
And although Plymouth left-back Lee Molyneux was dismissed for a second booking four minutes from time, Colchester ended up being the team that rode their luck in stoppage time.
U’s boss John Ward made just one enforced change from the side which won 1-0 at Walsall last weekend, Ian Henderson dropping out of the side – and squad – after sustaining a knee injury in training to be replaced by Ashley Vincent.
Meanwhile, keeper Ben Williams and defender Paul Reid were both handed places on the bench following their return to reserve team action during the week from ankle and groin injuries respectively.
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Plymouth have endured a difficult start to life back in League One following their six season spell in the Championship.
And following demoralising back-to-back defeats against Walsall and Peterborough, manager Peter Reid made some radical defensive changes to his side.
The former Sunderland and England Under-21 boss abandoned the 4-4-2 formation he has employed throughout much of his career and switched to a 4-2-3-1.
Not only that, but his line-up – which was missing three key players through injury – contained no fewer than four centre-backs, with Icelander Cari Arnason playing in midfield and Bondz N’Gala starting at right-back.
Reid’s tactics to crowd out Colchester’s energetic midfield three worked well early on as the hosts found little room for manoeuvre in the centre of the pitch.
And the U’s suffered a further set-back when in-form right-back Brian Wilson limped off in the 15th minute having been unable to run off the a foot injury sustained in a firm challenge with Dean Parrett in the second minute. He was replaced by John White, whose new mohican haircut left him resembling Robert De Niro’s portrayal of Travis Bickle in cult film Taxi Driver.
Plymouth had conceded two goals from set-pieces against Peterborugh in their last game though and Colchester were able to take advantage of that frailty in the 22nd minute. Bond was allowed to run untracked through the box to head home Anthony Wordsworth’s right-sided corner from less than six yards out right in the middle of the goal.
Incredibly it was the non-league summer signing’s fourth goal from six League One games, the 25-year-old having now scored twice from outside the box and twice from headers.
Plymouth’s formation was not set-up for a response and Colchester pushed for a second before the break as Wordsworth saw a shot from the edge of the box flash just wide and David Perkins had a fierce drive blocked after a well-worked short corner.
Striker David Mooney could then perhaps have done better four minutes before the break when, after a swift exchange of passes between Vincent and Wordsworth on the counter-attack, the Irish striker took his shot far too early with plenty of space to run in to.
The Devon side had failed to create a single shot on target in the opening half, but they went into the break just a goal behind despite Colchester’s chances.
And having not taken their chances in the lead up to the interval, the U’s were punished just three minutes into the second half thanks to some sloppy defending of their own from a set-piece. Arnason swung in a corner from the same side as Wordsworth has done in the first half and this time it was towering defender Reda Johnson who was able to volley home at the near post.
It was far more even encounter after the equaliser, with Reid having tweaked his formation to something far more like that they were facing.
Plymouth were forced into a keeper change just after the half hour mark though when Dabid Button, having fallen awkwardly minutes earlier, was replaced by Argyle’s long-serving Frenchman Romain Larrieu.
Ward introduced Kayode Odejayi for Mooney in the 73rd minute and the change appeared to lift the hosts as they proceeded to create two good chances. First Vincent’s low cross somehow evaded everyone in the six-yard box, before Wordsworth was inches away from converting Perkins’ cross-cum-shot at the far post.
Plymouth were reduced to 10 men in the 86th minute when the referee handed left-back Molyneux his second booking for a shirt pull on Perkins.
Despite their numerical advantage, Colchester were the team left holding on towards the end though as Plymouth forced a number of corners.
– Match report and reaction in Monday’s EADT.
Colchester: Cousins; Wilson (White 15), Tierney, Okuonghae, Baldwin; Bond, Perkins, Izzet; Vincent, Wordsworth, Mooney (Odejayi 73).
Unused Subs: Williams, Reid, Elito, James, Heath.
Booked: Perkins (69), Izzet (88), Baldwin (90).
Plymouth: Button (Larrieu 61); N’Gala, Molyneux, Timar, Johnson; Arnason, Peterlin; Mason, Parrett (Noone 46), Bhasera (J Paterson 81); R Patterson.
Unused Subs: Duguid, Clark, Wright-Phillips, Maclean.
Booked: Molyneux (35 & 86), Parrett (42), Peterlin (44), Bhasera (51).
Sent-Off: Molyneux (86).
U’s Man-of-the-Match: Kemi Izzet
Referee: Mr D McDermid