Colchester United crash to yet another home defeat
- Credit: Richard Blaxall/Focus Images Ltd
Colchester United 2 Crawley Town 3
Colchester United suffered another damaging home defeat, this time at the hands of relegation rivals Crawley Town this afternoon.
The U’s crashed to their 12th home league defeat of the campaign, from 18 starts, to leave them facing an uphill battle to stay in League One.
Izale McLeod’s 75th minute penalty proved the difference between the two clubs, inflicting a fourth straight defeat on the U’s.
Earlier, Sammie Szmodics fired the U’s into the lead on 11 minutes, via a fantastic half-volley, only for former U’s player Ryan Dickson to sweep home an equaliser just four minutes later.
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It was Dickson’s first goal for Crawley, since his move from Colchester last summer – he never actually scored for the U’s.
The Red Devils grabbed the lead in the 41st minute, via Gavin Tomlin’s smart finish from Lewis Young’s cross. It was a case of more poor defending from the hosts.
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Skipper David Fox levelled the game at 2-2, via a wonderful free-kick in the 49th minute.
But back came Crawley. Sam Walker was adjudged to have brought down McLeod, as the striker raced onto Anthony Wordsworth’s through ball – there certainly didn’t appear to be much contact, if any.
And it was McLeod who picked himself to convert the spot kick, sending Walker the wrong way, to earn all three points for the Sussex club.
The U’s handed an immediate debut to front-runner Jacob Murphy, signed on loan from Norwich City.
A second U’s new signing, announced before kick-off – South African international defender Bongani Khumalo, on loan from Tottenham – was not involved because the U’s were still waiting for international clearance.
New boy Murphy was quickly in the action. He capped a strong run down the right flank with a dangerous low cross which only just eluded the onrushing Chris Porter, on the edge of the six-yard box.
It was actually Crawley who should have broken the deadlock, when McLeod burst free of the U’s defence on eight minutes.
Ex-U’s loanee McLeod had just Sam Walker to beat, but although he managed to direct his low shot beyond the U’s keeper, the ball rebounded off the far post.
At the other end, ever-present Tom Eastman ballooned a free header over the bar, from David Fox’s accurate corner.
However, Szmodics was more accurate as he crashed home a glorious opener in the 14th minute.
Livewire Szmodics latched onto a poor defensive header by Young and sent a clinical half-volley fizzing into the net.
Szmodics fancied his chances of adding a second goal, just a couple of minutes later, although this time has shot lacked power and keeper Price easily mopped up.
Crawley grabbed an equaliser, out of the blue, in the 15th minute.
The two Crawley wing-backs combined, with Lewis Young managing to get the better of Gavin Massey and deliver a cross for Dickson to steer home from close-in.
Debutant Murphy nearly regained the lead for the U’s on 21 minutes. He scampered onto Alex Gilbey’s lay-off and drilled in a cross-cum-shot which only just flashed wide of the far upright.
At the other end, another ex-Colchester player, Anthony Wordsworth, rattled the bar with a ferocious shot from just inside the box. That was a superb effort from the Ipswich Town loanee, and a lucky let-off for the hosts.
It was proving to be an entertaining game, and Szmodics, easily the most effective U’s player, lashed in a long-range shot which Price did well to arch back and divert over his bar.
Gilbey rained in a couple of shots, around the half-hour mark. His first goal-bound effort was blocked in a crowded six-yard box, while his second was deflected through to Price, who duly smothered.
Roving left-back Matt Briggs tried to get in on the act on 37 minutes with a mazy run and crisp show which flew just wide of target.
But four minutes later and it was Crawley who were celebrating taking the lead, via another cross from Young.
Right wing-back Young’s cross into the danger zone found its way through to Tomlin, who planted his shot into the net from 12 yards out.
Szmodics did not appear for the second half, due to injury, to be replaced by George Moncur.
The U’s started the second period well, and Karleigh Osborne had a couple of goal-bound shots blocked, from a corner routine, before Fox levelled the issue with a wonder free-kick.
Gilbey won the free-kick, and it looked as though Fox would launch the ball to the far post, in search of one of his team-mates.
However, instead the Us skipper opted to go for goal, curling his shot beyond the defensive wall and in at the near post, with keeper Price well beaten.
It continued to be end-to-end. McLeod failed to beat Walker, from just six yards out in the 57th minute, and just before the hour mark Dickson had a goal disallowed for offside.
But it was Crawley who came up with the winner, via McLeod’s 75th minute penalty.
COLCHESTER: Walker, Hewitt, Osborne (sub Wynter, 51), Eastman, Briggs, Gilbey (sub Healey, 80), Fox, Szmodics (sub Moncur, 46), Massey, Porter, Murphy. Unused subs: Lewington, Vincent-Young, Bonne,Sembie-Ferris.
CRAWLEY: Price, Bradley, Ward, Wood, Dickson (sub Edwards, 84), Tomlin, Young, Wordsworth, Fowler, McLeod, Pogba (sub Elliott, 69). Unused subs: Jensen, Smith, Morgan, Bawling, Anderson.
Referee: Mr J Adcock (Notts)