Colchester United 1 Lincoln City 0, match report: Sammie Szmodics is once again the match-winner
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Colchester United 1 Lincoln City 0
Sammie Szmodics chalked up his seventh goal of the season to secure a narrow but deserved home victory over Danny Cowley’s Lincoln City tonight.
Szmodics had scored the winner as a substitute in another 1-0 win, at Barnet 10 days ago, following his return from injury, and he obliged again to sink the Imps, this time from the start.
His slick finish extended the U’s superb recent run to just one defeat in 10 league games, boosting their recent tally to 21 points from a possible 30.
Szmodics handed the U’s the perfect start, by sweeping them into a third minute lead.
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MikaelMandron delivered an inch-perfect pass for Drey Wright to ran at City’s back-line, inside the penalty area.
Wright could have gone for goal himself, but instead he squared for Szmodics, who slotted home a low shot from eight yards out past keeper Josh Vickers.
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The U’s continued to look very bright, after this excellent opener, and right wing-back Ryan Jackson fired an angled 20-yard drive narrowly over the bar on seven minutes.
Mandron so nearly added a second goal in the 14th minute. Szmodics helped on a cross by Jackson from the right flank, and Mandron ghosted in at the near post to try and divert home the loose ball. He had two bites at the cherry, but could not force it over the line with keeper Vickers protecting his goal.
U’s boss McGreal’s pre-match decision to change his attacking formation, by playing Szmodics up top with Mandron, and dropping Brandon Hanlan to the bench with Wright in the hole behind the front-two, certainly worked a treat during the first quarter of the game.
And at the other end of the pitch, Lincoln struggled to make an impression as an attacking force during the first half-hour.
All that changed on 31 minutes, however, when the visitors were denied by the woodwork.
Nathan Arnold’s 20-yard free-kick, struck sweetly with his right boot, beat Sam Walker all ends up, only to cannon back off the bar.
There was still danger for the U’s, but striker Oliver Palmer was unable to head home the loose ball with Walker catching under his goal-line.
Two minutes later and the U’s had a free-kick of their own, in a promising position. Wright took on the responsibility, but he could not beat the defensive wall with the set piece, his low shot thudding into a line of defenders.
The hosts were forced into a change on 37 minutes. Midfielder Doug Loft had injured his shoulder earlier on in the game, and had tried to play on with it strapped up, but eventually he had to give way to substitute Brandon Comley.
Seconds later and livewire Szmodics had a sight of goal, although he dragged his shot well wide of target from the edge of the box.
Lincoln boss Cowley made a double change at half-time, with big target man Matt Rhead and fellow front-runner Matt Green on for Oliver Palmer and Billy Knott.
And the Imps looked more dangerous during the early stages of the second period, centre-half Sean Raggett heading wide at the near post from Arnold’s 48th minute corner.
Szmodics was nearly celebrating his second goal on the hour mark. Again he was teed up by Wright, and this time his ferocious 20-yarder was parried with strong hands by keeper Vickers.
City were always likely to be dangerous from set pieces, with some big men in the box, and Walker did well to catch a goal-bound header by Raggett from a corner routine on 64 minutes.
Chances continued to flow at both ends, and Szmodics had a goal-bound shot deflected wide of the far post for a corner.
Szmodics actually had the ball in the back of the net from the ensuing corner, after Wright’s shot had been blocked by keeper Vickers, but the assistant referee had already raised his flag for offside, so the goal was not allowed to stand.
Vickers came to his side’s rescue again in the 72nd minute, keeping out Mandron’s low shot with an outstretched leg, while at the other end Walker did well to cling onto leading scorer Harry Anderson’s crashing low drive down at his near post.
Into the closing minutes and Anderson deceived Kane Vincent-Young to deliver a cross into the danger zone, only for substitute Comley to make a vital last ditch challenge, and so protect the U’s slender lead.
COLCHESTER: Walker, Eastman, Inniss, Kent, Jackson, Lapslie, Loft (sub Comley 37), Vincent-Young, Wright, Szmodics, Mandron (sub Hanlan, 80). Unused subs: Gilmartin, Kinsella, Reid, Hanlan, Slater, Odelusi.
LINCOLN: Vickers, Long, Dickie, Raggett, Eardley, Anderson, Knott (sub Green, 46), Woodyard, Arnold (sub Stewart, 62), Whitehouse, Palmer (sub Rhead, 46). Unused subs: Farman, Habergham, Waterfall, Ginnelly.
Referee: Graham Horwood (Luton)
Attendance: 3,105 (475 away fans)