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U’s surrender two-goal lead to lose to Mansfield Town

PUBLISHED: 16:59 19 January 2019 | UPDATED: 17:03 19 January 2019

Tom Eastman sprints away after giving the U's an early lead, against Mansfield Town this afternoon.  Picture: STEVE WALLER    WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM

Tom Eastman sprints away after giving the U's an early lead, against Mansfield Town this afternoon. Picture: STEVE WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM

© Copyright Stephen Waller

Colchester United 2 Mansfield Town 3

Colchester United surrendered a two-goal lead as Mansfield Town came storming back with three second-half goals to complete a remarkable comeback at the Jobserve Community Stadium this afternoon.

Goals from Tom Eastman (14 minutes) and Courtney Senior (30) put the U’s in a commanding position at half-time.

But this game was then turned on its head by three Mansfield goals. Nicky Ajose (51), Tyler Walker (64) and CJ Hamilton (79) all hit the target with deadly finishes to seal the U’s fate.

The goal action began on 14 minutes.

Senior swung over a free-kick, from which Mikael Mandron rose high to head goalwards. There was a scramble inside the six-yard box before Eastman was on hand to sweep the loose ball over the line.

It was a real predator’s finish from the experienced centre-back.

And creator Senior turned finisher on the half-hour mark, to double the U’s lead.

Mansfield defenders failed to get close to Senior, who was able to dart into the box and make room for himself before crashing home a low shot in at the near post, seeming to surprise keeper Smith.

Mansfield halved the deficit, six minutes into the second half. Leading scorer Tyler Walker delivered a deep cross from the right and an unmarked Nicky Ajose chested the ball over the line, from point blank range.

And it was level pegging in the 64th minute, Tyler directing home a low shot from Jorge Grant’s accurate delivery to chalk up his 14th league goal of the season, and 17th in all competitions.

Mansfield completed their comeback in the 79th minute. Ajose whipped over a marvellous cross for Hamilton to stick out a boot and prod the ball home from six yards out.

The U’s were unchanged from last weekend’s 3-0 victory at Port Vale.

Centre-half Frankie Kent continued to be sidelined with a back injury, while striker Luke Norris was out of the squad due to an ankle problem.

It was a bright start from the U’s, against a side who had only lost three league games all season and had the best defence in League Two.

Tom Eastman scooped a shot over the bar from 10 yards out, in the fourth minute, and Sammie Szmodics then got the better of centre-half Krystian Pearce on the right-edge of the six-yard box, eventually forcing a corner off keeper Jordan Smith.

Szmodics was a real livewire during these early stages, and he saw his close-range shot superbly kept out by an alert Smith in the 10th minute, following a fine run and low cross by Frank Nouble.

At the other end, recent signing Nicky Ajose, recruited on loan from Charlton, had a downward header graze the bottom of the far post, from close in on 12 minutes.

However, just two minutes later and Eastman broke the deadlock for the U’s, by bundling home from inside the six-yard box.

And it was very nearly 2-0 in the 16th minute, as Brennan Dickenson’s surprise curling shot, from an acute angle on the left-side of the penalty area, was only just kept out by the late reactions of Smith, who managed to claw the ball around his near post.

Smith caught a shot by Pell under his bar in the 22nd minute, and then made sure that Mandron’s snap shot did not sneak in at his near post, five minutes later.

But Smith was powerless to prevent Senior from doubling the U’s lead, on the half-hour mark, the winger’s low shot flying in at his near post.

Gilmartin preserved the U’s two-goal advantage by launching himself to his left to divert Mal Benning’s shot over the bar, in the 42nd minute.

Szmodics went close, inside the first 60 seconds of the second period, as his header from Nouble’s cross flew over the bar from 10 yards out.

But it was Mansfield who scored the next goal, Ajose chesting the ball over the line from a matter of a few feet out.

And Walker then directed home a first-time shot to bring the Stags level in the 64th minute, before Hamilton poked home Ajose’s inch-perfect delivery to complete the turnaround in the 79th minute.

Squads

COLCHESTER: Gilmartin, Jackson, Eastman, Prosser, Dickenson (sub Vincent-Young, 66), Lapslie (sub Ogedi-Uzokwe, 81), Pell, Senior (sub Comley, 72), Szmodics, Nouble, Mandron. Unused subs: Barnes, Wright, Gondoh, Kensdale.

MANSFIELD: Smith, White (sub Atkinson, 90+6), Pearce, Sweeney, Hamilton, Bishop, Mellis, Benning, Grant (sub Rose, 87), Walker, Ajose (sub Preston, 82). Unused subs: Logan, Khan, Graham, Smith.

Referee: Brett Huxtable (Devon)

Attendance: 3,546 (426 away fans)


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