U’s suffer third defeat on the bounce

Sammie Szmodics with a first half shot. Picture: STEVE WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM

Sammie Szmodics with a first half shot. Picture: STEVE WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Colchester United 0 Tranmere Rovers 2

Colchester United’s play-off hopes took another big hit, when they suffered their fourth defeat in the last five outings, at the hands of in-form Tranmere Rovers this afternoon.

Goals from leading scorer James Norwood and ex-Colchester United midfielder David Perkins sealed a sixth straight win for the promotion-chasing visitors.

Norwood bagged his 28th goal of the season in the 23rd minute, while Perkins doubled the lead within the first 60 seconds of the second half.

Perkins was the creator of the opening goal, after the U’s had lost possession in the middle of the park.

Perkins slid through a well-weighted pass for the onrushing Norwood, who kept his cool to lift his shot over the onrushing Dillon Barnes and into an unguarded net from the edge of the box.

Rovers doubled their lead inside a minute of the first half, with Perkins this time the scorer rather than the creator.

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Defender Jack Caprice got beyond the U’s back-line and squared for Connor Jennings, whose shot was clawed off the goal-line by a despairing dive from Barnes. However, Perkins was on hand to hammer the rebound into the roof of the net from an acute angle. It was a deadly finish by the 36-year-old veteran schemer.

Abo Eisa hit the woodwork with a free-kick, midway through the second half, but in truth the U’s were well beaten.

Rovers had won their last five games, so it was not surprising that they started in confident fashion, Jennings drilling a shot into the side-netting from an acute angle in the fourth minute.

Sammie Szmodics earned the U’s a free-kick in a dangerous position, on six minutes, from which Courtney Senior lifted the set piece over the defensive wall but also a foot over the bar.

Szmodics was eying up the target himself in the night minute, teed up by a great run and low cross from Ryan Jackson. Unfortunately, his well-struck first-time shot flew over the top.

Norwood, the leading scorer in League Two, threatened first in the U’s box in the 21st minute when he very nearly diverted home Ollie Banks’ deflected cross at the far post. His toe-poked effort drifted wide.

But just two minutes later and Norwood was not to be denied, directing home his 28th goal of the season following a fine through ball by Perkins.

At the other end, Frankie Kent headed narrowly over from Eisa’s 25th minute free-kick, as the hosts searched for a quick response, and Ryan Jackson’s 25-yard thunderbolt only just whistled over the bar on the half-hour mark.

Despite peppering the target, the U’s actual first shot on goal did not arrive until the 44th minute when Eisa’s low drive forced a good save from keeper Scott Davies.

The U’s were caught cold at the start of the second period, with Perkins crashing home Rovers’ second after Jennings’ shot had been clawed away by Barnes, on 46 minutes.

McGreal’s men so nearly halved the deficit, in the 70th minute. Keeper Davies just about managed to prevent Eisa’s free-kick from sneaking into the net, clawing the ball onto the inside of the post. The rebound did not fall kindly for the U’s.

At the other end, Barnes struggled to keep out a free-kick by Norwood, in the 83rd minute. The U’s keeper smothered the loose ball on his goal-line.


COLCHESTER: Barnes, Jackson, Prosser, Kent, Vincent-Young, Lapslie (sub Norris, 66), Stevenson, Senior, Szmodics, Eisa, Mandron (sub Dickenson, 81). Unused subs: Ross, Wright, Chilvers, Kensdale, Miller.

TRANMERE: Davies, Caprice, Ellis, Monthe, Ridehalgh, Jennings, Banks (sub Harris 71), Perkins, McCullough, Pringle (sub Morris 62), Norwood. Unused subs: Pilling, Gilmour, Dagnall, Mullin, Nelson.

Referee: Ross Joyce (Cleveland)

Attendance: 3,800 (466 away fans)