Colchester United 3 Exteter City 1: Carl Marston’s 5 Talking Points
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Colchester United were good value for yesterday’s 3-1 home win, over fourth-placed Exeter City. Here are Carl Marston’s 5 Talking Points:
Sammie Szmodics deserved a hat-trick, but in the end the 22-year-old was satisfied with his two goals in a dominant home victory.
Szmodics has missed a chunk of this season, due to injury, but has still plundered nine goals in 18 outings, an impressive ratio (one goal every two games).
Certainly, Exeter’s defence could not cope with him.
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He effectively broke the deadlock with a cross-cum-shot which was deflected into his own net by sweeper Troy Archibald-Henville in the 21st minute, for an own goal.
Four minutes later and Szmodics converted a penalty, after Kane Vincent-Young had been upended in the box by Jake Taylor’s rash challenge.
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And the U’s No. 10 saved the best until last, scooping a shot into the roof of the net from just inside the penalty area on the half-hour mark.
Szmodics very nearly ended all debate about whether he had netted a hat-trick, when his cracking shot in the 41st minute cannoned back off the inside of the post and dropped to safety.
But no matter – Szmodics is a class act.
INJURY TO INNISS
For a while, the U’s rather lost their way when influential defender Ryan Inniss was forced off the pitch with a shoulder injury.
The U’s were coasting at 3-0 up, when Inniss was substituted in the 54th minute. His replacement, Sean Murray, played well on his return from a knee injury, but the absence of Inniss had an adverse effect.
Changing formation, from three at the back to a flat-back four, the U’s conceded a goal from a corner, substitute Jayden Stockley stooping to nod home Hiran Boateng’s delivery in the 62nd minute.
For the next few minutes, the Grecians sensed a weak link and a possibility to mount an unlikely recovery.
Sam Walker pulled off a terrific save to block Boateng’s shot on 67 minutes, and the excellent Frankie Kent cleared substitute Kyle Edwards’ effort off the goal-line just a minute later.
The U’s regained their composure during the final quarter of the game, but they will hope that Inniss’ injury is not too serious.
The Crystal Palace has quite simply been a rock at the back.
The U’s have now lost just two of their last 12 league games, which is promotion material.
Before this fine run, they were down in 20th position, just three points above the relegation zone and eight points adrift of the play-offs.
Now, after a 24-point haul from a possible 36, they are only outside the play-offs on goal difference.
Manager John McGreal has admitted that it might be difficult to hold onto his best young players during the January transfer window.
Szmodics is an obvious target for bigger clubs, and McGreal revealed on Saturday that scouts from Championship and even Premier League clubs were beginning to turn up at home games.
Left wing-back Kane Vincent-Young, 21, is another attracting attention, while 22-year-old Drey Wright continues to produce consistent performances.
A League Two table, featuring just home games, sees Colchester United up in third place.
In fact, only the top two of Luton (25) and Notts County (26) have bagged more points on home turf.
The U’s have only lost twice at the Community Stadium, in the league, and collected 21 points, level with Saturday’s opponents Exeter.