Colchester United 2 Reading Under-21s 2, match report: Lowest-ever attendance sees U’s win a penalty shoot-out
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Colchester United 2 Reading Under-21s 2 (Colchester win penalty shoot-out 6-5)
Colchester United’s lowest ever gate, as a Football League club, saw the U’s draw 2-2 against Reading Under-21s in their first Checkatrade Trophy Southern Group B match tonight.
The resulting penalty shoot-out, to decide the extra bonus point, was won by the U’s 6-5, so two points were accrued from this opening fixture.
During the 90 minutes, Sammie Szmodics fired John McGreal’s men into a fourth minute lead, but the young Royals scored twice before the break through Josh Barrett and Ben House.
However, Eoin McKeown marked his senior debut with a late equaliser. On as a 79th minute substitute, Academy product McKeown took just six minutes to make an impression by sweeping home from Tom Eastman’s delivery, inside the six-yard box.
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In the penalty shoot-out, the first 11 spot kicks were all scored, before Reading substitute Joel Rollinson had his penalty saved by Rene Gilmartin.
The gate of 527 was the lowest-ever attendance for a Colchester United first team game, as a Football League club, eclipsing the 548 from the home game against Charlton Under-21s in the same competition from last season.
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The only smaller crowd, featuring the U’s first team, was a gate of 293 in January, 1991, for a Conference League Cup tie (Bob Lord Trophy) at Fisher Athletic – but the U’s were a non-league outfit at the time.
A more positive landmark was the inclusion of Drey Wright and Diaz Wright in the starting line-up, the first time that a set of brothers had started a Colchester game since David and Neil Gregory back in 1999.
The U’s took the lead with their first serious attack of the evening.
Szmodics did well to trap the ball inside the penalty area and then deceive the covering defender before coolly slotting home a low shot beyond keeper George Legg.
Reading actually enjoyed a lot of the early possession, without making much headway towards the U’s goal, although Cameron James did well to block a goal-bound shot by striker Ben House on 11 minutes.
James was one of four changes to the U’s side that thumped Forest Green Rovers 5-1 in League Two on Saturday.
The other three newcomers were all making their full Colchester debuts – keeper Rene Gilmartin, midfielder Diaz Wright and left-sided attacker Tariq Issa.
For summer signing Gilmartin, is was first U’s appearance, although Issa had played a couple of league games as a substitute already this season, and Diaz Wright had made his senior debut as a substitute in the same competition last term.
Midfielder Sean Murray dragged a shot well wide of target, as the U’s searched for another goal.
On 14 minutes, winger Drey Wright homed in on goal from the right edge of the penalty area, only to smash his rising shot into the side-netting.
Four minutes later and Drey Wright had another sight of goal, although his 20-yarder skidded straight into the arms of keeper Legg.
But Reading grabbed an equaliser in the 19th minute, through a clinical finish by Barrett.. The Royals attacker-runner drilled past Gilmartin and into the bottom corner of the net, having been set up by House.
Drey Wright had a good chance to regain the U’s lead on the half-hour mark, but he was unable to get any clean contact with his attempted header from Lewis Kisnella’s teasing cross, the ball rolling harmlessly wide of target.
On 40 minutes, his younger brother Diaz Wright nearly crowned his first start with a goal, his spectacular 22-yard volley flying only a foot over the top following a half-cleared free-kick by Murray.
But it was Reading who took the lead, in the 42nd minute, due to a bad error from Eastman which allowed House to run through and sweep past an exposed Gilmartin.
The U’s pressed early in the second half. Mikael Mandron had a downward header cleared off the line by a defender in the 54th minute, and seconds later keeper Legg did well to smother Drey Wright’s angled low drive.
Legg then did well to dive to his right and push away a goal-bound header by Drey Wright on 56 minutes, and another header by Mandron was blocked off the goal-line from a 74th minute corner.
James hit the bar with a header from an 83rd minute corner, but McKeown did grab the equaliser just two minutes later by diverting home Eastman’s low delivery from close-in.
COLCHESTER: Gilmartin, Vincent-Young (sub Jackson, 46), Eastman, James, Kinsella, Diaz Wright, Murray, Drey Wright, Szmodics (sub O’Sullivan, 46), Issa (sub McKeown, 79), Mandron. Unused subs: Walker, Lapslie, Kent, Edge.
READING UNDER-21s: Legg, Holes, Osho, Andresson, Medford-Smith, Frost, East, Holsgrove, Barrett, House (sub Rollinson, 87), Smith. Unused subs: Driscoll, Howe, Shokunbi, Burley, Green, Nolan.
Referee: G Ward (Surrey)
Attendance: 527 (49 away fans)