Colchester United flop at home to Magpies
Colchester United 0 Notts County 4
Colchester United slumped to a dreadfully disappointing home defeat at the hands of Notts County, who began the day rock bottom of League One.
First-half goals from the classy Jack Grealish and defender Morgan Fox secured back-to-back wins for Shaun Derry’s County, with Callum McGregor adding a late third.
Winger Grealish broke the deadlock in the 29th minute with a lethal finish from close in.
Jamal Campbell-Ryce, enjoying space down the right flank, delivered a low cross for Grealish, who had time to control and take a couple of touches before crashing home a shot from eight yards out.
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It was the Aston Villa loanee’s second senior goal – his first had come the previous weekend in the win over Gillingham.
County doubled their lead just two minutes before half-time, with another simple goal.
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Callum Ball was allowed to cross from the left flank and unmarked left-back Fox had the simple task of diverting home from just a few feet out, past an exposed Sam Walker.
It was the first goal of Charlton loanee Fox’s career.
There was no way back for the U’s who, on this performance, look set for a second successive season of battling to avoid relegation.
To rub salt into the wounds, McGregor and Liddle both scored during the final few minutes to complete the rout.
There were three changes to the side that lost 2-1 at Tranmere in their last outing, a fortnight ago.
Northampton Town loanee Ben Tozer made his U’s debut, as a replacement for the suspended Brian Wilson at right-back, while there were recalls for Clinton Morrison and Macauley Bonne.
Tozer’s long throws caused a problem for the Magpies during the opening minutes, and keeper Bartosz Bialkowski had to be at his best to palm away Clinton Morrison’s goal-bound drive on five minutes as the U’s grabbed the early initiative.
Another of Tozer’s long throws caused a stir in the eighth minute. An unmarked Alex Gilbey met Tozer’s missle with a free header which Bialkowski dived to his left to smother on his goal-line.
County settled after these early scares, and bossed possession for the next 10 minutes, although Alan Sheehan’s 25-yarder soaring over the bar was the closest they came to a goal.
At the other end, Jabo Ibehre whipped over a cross to the far post where Ryan Dickson, over-stretching, volleyed into the side netting.
But the U’s had rather lost their way, and they duly fell behind to Grealish’s smart finish on 29 minutes.
The U’s came close to an equaliser in the 35th minute. Ryan Dickson’s long throw was able to bounce dangerously in the box, and Ibehre had a couple of bites at the cherry before screwing his final shot wide of target.
Three minutes later and acting skipper Okuonghae, in Wilson’s absence, picked up his fifth booking of the season, for a foul, which will mean he is suspended for next weekend’s trip to Oldham.
County threatened again before the break. Gary Liddle met Grealish’s teasing cross with a goal-bound header that was charged down at point blank range by Gilbey.
But the visitors did get their second goal, via Fox’s simple tap-in on 43 minutes.
Trailing 2-0 at the break, U’s boss Dunne made a change for the start of the second period with substitute Blair Turgott replacing Dickson. Turgott operated down the right flank with Bonne switching to the left.
The U’s should have halved the deficit in the 51st minute. Ibehre headed Luke Garbutt’s cross into the danger-zone, where Okuonghae volleyed over with just keeper Bialkowski. It was a big opportunity gone begging.
At the other end, Ball also squandered a good chance for County, poking over the bar from close in following Campbell Ryce’s excellent cross.
On the hour mark, Garbutt’s corner nearly led to a goal. Bonne connected with a low volley, which skidded across the turf towards the far post, but neither Tom Eastman nor Clinton Morrison could squeeze home.
The U’s rarely threatened during the final half-hour, and Grealish struck the far post with an angled drive on 80 minutes, before McGregor did crash home the third with four minutes remaining.
There was still time for Liddle to skip past Walker to add a fourth in the 89th minute, to complete the rout.
COLCHESTER UNITED: Walker, Tozer (sub Olufemi, 67), Okuonghae, Eastman, Garbutt, Eastmond (sub Bond, 72), Gilbey, Bonne, Morrison, Dickson (sub Turgott, 46), Ibehre. Unused subs: Cousins, David Wright, Sanderson, Vose.
NOTTS COUNTY: Bialkowski, Freeman, Liddle, Leacock, Fox, Campbell-Ryce, Grealish, Boucaud, Sheehan, Ball, McGregor. Unused subs: Spiess, Smith, Showunmi, Bell, Murray, Fotheringham, Hollis.
Referee: Mr S Hooper (Wiltshire)