Colchester United 2 Mansfield Town 0, match report: Sean Murray and Mikael Mandron hunt down the Stags

Sean Murray (right) celebrates with team-mate Ryan Inniss after giving the U's a 1-0 lead against Ma

Sean Murray (right) celebrates with team-mate Ryan Inniss after giving the U's a 1-0 lead against Mansfield Town. Picture: STEVE WALLER - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Colchester United 2 Mansfield Town 0

First-half goals by Sean Murray and Mikael Mandron inflicted a defeat on promotion candidates Mansfield Town at the Weston Homes Community Stadium this afternoon.

Colchester United suffered only their third home league defeat of 2017, against Wycombe in their last home league outing, but they fully deserved the three points against Steve Evans’ under-performing Stags.

Fresh from scoring the only goal of the game at Yeovil the previous weekend, Murray bagged the opener in the 29th minute.

Kyel Reid took a free-kick shot to Murray, and the midfielder directed a low, measured 20-yard shot through a crowded penalty area into the far corner of the net, deceiving keeper Conrad Logan.

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Five minutes later and the U’s doubled their lead, with Murray turning creator.

It was a superb cross by Murray, from the left flank, which enabled Mandron to climb high and head powerfully into the roof of the net.

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It was a slick finish by Mandron, to chalk up his third goal of the season.

Mansfield had beaten league leaders 3-1 the previous Saturday, but they had no response today.

Both sides showed an attacking intent from the first whistle, and Mandron squandered a great chance to break the deadlock inside the first minute when he ballooned a shot over the bar from just eight yards out.

At the other end, an angled drive by Stags winger Omari Sterling-James was blocked by Doug Loft on the edge of the six-yard box, and then hastily cleared by the ex-Gillingham midfielder.

Brandon Hanlan created a chance for himself, with some superb close control, although his final shot flashed wide of target on nine minutes, and seconds later Stags midfielder Will Atkinson headed inches wide with Sam Walker rooted to the spot.

The U’s were forced to reshuffle their pack, when Kane Vincent-Young limped off injured on the 20-minute mark.

Substitute Tom Eastman, back after a hamstring injury, came on at centre-back with Frankie Kent switching to left-back.

Walker was forced into his first real save shortly afterwards, diving low down to push away a goal-bound drive by leading scorer Danny Rose.

A good U’s move in the 26th minute, started by Mandron, ended with Reid’s shot from a tight angle being squeezed behind for a corner.

But three minutes later and the hosts did take the lead, thanks to Murray’s measured 20-yard shot from Reid’s short free-kick.

Mansfield tried to get back on level terms straight away, but Walker comfortably caught Rose’s rising header under his own bar, on the half-hour mark.

And they found themselves trailing by two goals, when Mandron headed home Murray’s delightful cross in the 34th minute.

The Stags were very close to halving the deficit, eight minutes into the second half, Rose’s header flashing inches wide of the far post from Atkinson’s delivery.

Walker was in the right place to punch away a fierce goal-bound shot by Alex MacDonald, in the 61st minute, as the U’s continued to shut out the opposition.

Murray could have bagged his second the U’s third in the 76th minute. He was put clean through on goal, only for his shot to be blocked by onrushing keeper Logan.

Murray had another chance on 86 minutes, but he sliced his shot wide with just Logan to beat.


COLCHESTER UNITED: Walker, Jackson, Inniss, Kent, Vincent-Young (sub Eastman, 20), Wright, Loft, Murray, Reid (sub Comley, 55), Hanlan (sub, Kabamba, 81) Mandron. Unused subs: Gilmartin, Slater, Odelusi, Guthrie.

MANSFIELD TOWN: Logan, Anderson (sub Mellis, 64), Pearce, Mirfin, Hunt, MacDonald, Butcher, Atkinson, Sterling-James (sub Bennett, 46), Hemmings (sub Angol, 64), Rose. Unused subs: Olejnic, Digby, Spencer, Hamilton.

Referee: John Busby (Oxfordshire)

Attendance: 3,262 (339 away fans)

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