Colchester United are relegated after defeat to Brewers

Joe Edwards, who was sent off this afternoon

Joe Edwards, who was sent off this afternoon - Credit: Archant

Colchester United 0 Burton Albion 3

Colchester United have officially been relegated into League Two, following a home defeat to promotion-chasing Burton Albion this afternoon.

The U’s were already staring relegation full in the face, even before kick-off, and the inevitable was confirmed to seal a miserable season for the Essex club.thamesri

Kevin Keen’s men needed to beat Burton, and hope that other results went their way, to keep alive their slender hopes of survival going into the final two weekends of the campaign.

But their task was made all the more difficult by Joe Edwards’ 16th minute sending-off, for a challenge on left-back Damien McCrory. It was certainly a controversial decision by referee Mark Heywood – on first viewing, the challenge did not seem to warrant a red card.

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The 10-man U’s held out until just before half-time, but a double blast from Lucas Akins, either side of the interval, broke their resolve, with the winger completing a quick-fire hat-trick on the hour mark.

Akins steered home from close range in the 45th minute, and doubled the Brewers’ lead on 50th minutes when he muscled between defenders to rifle in a 15-yard shot, which gave Elliott Parish no chance.

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Star man Akins was celebrating a hat-trick in the 60th minute, with an even better strike, his angled drive soaring into the far corner of the net.

So the U’s will be back in the fourth tier next season, for the first time in 18 years.

It was a big day for Louis Dunne, the son of former manager Joe Dunne.

The 17-year-old was handed his full senior debut, on the left side of midfield, after making one brief appearance as a 77th minute substitute during last month’s 3-3 home draw against Wigan.

Fellow youngster Tom Lapslie was also recalled to the starting line-up, with the experienced midfield pairing of George Moncur and Alex Gilbey both dropped to the bench.

They were the two changes from Tuesday night’s disappointing 1-1 draw at bottom club Crewe Alexandra, a result which left the U’s staring at the drop into League Two.

But they certainly held their own, during the opening quarter-of-and-hour against high-flying Burton.

Neither side created a goalscoring chance, until a 15th minute long-range free-kick by Mark Duffy was comfortably smothered by keeper Elliott Parish on his goal-line.

But just a minute later and the U’s were reduced to 10 men, with Joe Edwards sent off for a late challenge on left-back McCrory.

Burton sensed a quick chance to capitalise, and holding midfielder Hamza Choudury was only a whisker away from a goal in the 18th minute. His opportunist lob from 30 yards out dropped only a foot over the bar with Parish back-tracking.

Parish came to his rescue with a fantastic save in the 22nd minute. McCrory let fly with a thunderous volley which the U’s keeper was at full stretch to claw over his bar.

And from the ensuing corner, left-back McCrory was peppering the target again with a ferocious angled drive that flew wide of the near post.

U’s boss Keen made a tactical substitution in the 24th minute, introducing defender Alex Wynter as a substitute for winger Gavin Massey, who had already been booked.

Wynter was making a welcome first appearance since his sickening clash of heads with team-mate Tom Eastman during the opening minutes of the FA Cup tie against Tottenham, at the end of January.

The 10-man U’s began to have some joy in attack. Macauley Bonne blasted wide when homing in on goal in the 27th minute, while keeper Jon McLaughlin had to react smartly to save from Wynter’s low drive on the half-hour mark.

Only the woodwork denied the Brewers an opening goal in the 32nd minute. Danger-man Duffy’s low drive beat Parish, but thudded back off the foot of the near post.

Five minutes later and the busy Parish made his second superb save of the half, beating away Stuart Beavon’s goal-bound shot at point-blank range.

Beavon was again thwarted by Parish in the 39th minute. This time the U’s keeper did well to cling onto a deflected shot from the Brewers front-man.

However, Parish was to powerless to prevent Akins from steering Burton into the lead, from close-in, on the stroke of half-time.

And Akins effectively killed off the U’s, by muscling through to blast home the visitors’ second, just five minutes into the second half.

It was 3-0 to the Brewers on the hour mark, with Akins chalking up his hat-trick goal via an excellent angled shot, from just inside the right-edge of the penalty area.

Wanting to further boost their goal difference, in their quest to automatic promotion, Burton came close to a fourth on 67 minutes when Choudhury’s half-volley curled inches wide of the far upright.

Parish also stood up well to beat away a goal-bound shot by Duffy on 71 minutes, while at the other end a rare U’s attack saw Chris Porter’s 20-yad shot well saved by McLaughlin.


COLCHESTER UNITED: Parish, J Edwards, Kent, Eastman, Shorey, Massey (sub Wynter, 24), Garvan, Lapslie, Dunne (sub Moncur, 50), Bonne, Porter (sub Wright, 81). Unused subs: Barnes, Gilbey, Lee, Brindley.

BURTON ALBION: McLaughlin, P Edwards, Mousinho, Cansdell-Sherriff, McCrory (sub Butcher, 69), Choudhury, Akins, Naylor, Palmer (sub Bennett, 78), Duffy, Beavon (sub Walker, 75). Unused subs: Bywater, Reilly, Weir, O’Connor.

Referee: Mark Heywood (West Yorks)

Attendance: 4,292 (429 away fans)

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