Colchester United are spot on in Cup
Colchester United triumphed 7-6 in a penalty shoot-out last night, after their Essex Senior Cup fourth round tie against Billericay Town had ended 2-2 after 90 minutes.
The U’s missed their first spot kick, with Mason Spence’s shot well saved by William Lumley.
But Sean Bonnett-Johnson squandered the chance to win it for the visitors, as Mark Cousins kept out Billericay’s fifth penalty to ensure sudden death.
Tom Lapslie, Tosin Olufemi and Frankie Kent all scored to make it 7-6, before Joe Benjamin sliced his penalty horribly wide of target.
The U’s had raced into a two-goal lead inside the first 20 minutes.
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Sammie Szmodics, who has enjoyed some first-team action in recent weeks, broke the deadlock with the sweetest of shots on the quarter-hour mark. The midfielder turned on the edge of the box before lashing home in style.
Nnamdi Nwachuku doubled the lead in the 20th minute, firing home from just outside the six-yard box.
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But two goals in a four-minute spell, just after the half-hour, saw Billericay level via a deadly finish from Joe Benjamin and a powerful header from Richard Halle.
There were no goals in the second half, so a shoot-out was required with the U’s booking their place in the quarter-finals.
Despite threatening to play several of his senior players, in the wake of Saturday’s disappointing 2-1 defeat at Tranmere Rovers, manager Joe Dunne resisted the temptation and instead selected a fairly inexperienced side.
The exceptions were attacker Dominic Vose, who started at Prenton Park, deputy keeper Cousins and right-back Olufemi.
Billericay actually had the better of the early exchanges, with centre-half Halle heading over the top from a corner, but Szmodics fired the U’s ahead out of the blue with his 15th minute pearler.
Five minutes later and Nwachuku crashed home the U’s second, following a corner routine, only for Benjamin to halve the deficit just after the half-hour mark with a neat finish from Junior Luke’s lay-off.
The hosts nearly restored their two-goal advantage in the 35th minute, but Nwachuku’s fierce shot flew straight into the arms of keeper Lumley.
And just 60 seconds later, Billericay were celebrating an equaliser, thanks to Halle’s excellent headed goal, which beat the despairing dive of Cousins.
The U’s had one chance to regain their lead before half-time. Vose teed up Conor Hubble, but his goal-bound 20-yarder was palmed away by a sprawling Lumley.
Into the second period and Vose flashed a long-range shot narrowly wide of the far post on 53 minutes, before Nwachuku tested Lumley with a well-struck drive which the keeper parried.
But Billericay came closest to winning it in normal time – substitute Ricky Sappleton’s header cannoned off the post in the 82nd minute.
COLCHESTER: Cousins, Olufemi, Sanderson, Spence, O’Donoghue, Szmodics, Vose, Simmons (sub Kent, 74), Hubble (sub Lapslie, 63), Ladapo, Nwachuku. Attendance: 245