Colchester United fluff their lines in defeat at Rovers
Doncaster Rovers 1 Colchester United 0
Colchester United’s poor run of results continued, although they were unlucky to lose at second-placed Doncaster Rovers this afternoon.
The U’s had lost on all three of their previous visits to the Keepmoat Stadium, without scoring a goal, and that woeful record was stretched to four matches.
However, John McGreal’s men should really have found the back of the net in this latest encounter, with Chris Porter and Sammie Szmodics guilty of missing excellent chances during a dominant first half.
However, Rovers bagged the only goal of the game, against the run of play, in the last minute of the first period, via Tommy Rowe.
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It was a calm finish by midfielder Rowe, who slipped his marker, Kane Vincent-Young, to lift his shot over exposed keeper Sam Walker from 10 yards out, after the U’s defence had been caught out by John Marquis’ dummy.
There was little to choose between the two teams, during a tentative opening 10 minutes, although Kurtis Guthrie did scoop a long-range shot over the bar in the ninth minute.
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Doncaster were missing leading scorer Andy Williams (seven goals) through injury, and they seemed to miss him early on.
At the other end, Rovers struggled to clear a free-kick, on the 20-minute mark, and both Drey Wright and Szmodics hammered in shots that were blocked inside a congested penalty area.
Guthrie forced the first save of the match on 22 minutes. The U’s midfielder’s fierce rising shot was heading for the roof of the net, until home keeper Marko Marosi intervened with an acrobatic save, pushing the ball around his post.
The visitors continued to look the more likely team to break the deadlock, and Szmodics pounced on a bouncing ball before lashing a shot over the bar from a good position, the ball taking a light deflection.
Szmodics was even closer to scoring, just 60 seconds later, when charging into the six-yard box to try and head home Guthrie’s dangerous header across the face of goal. But the U’s midfielder was shut out by a couple of defenders, and so could not apply the finishing touch.
Rovers, by contrast, could not find a way through to U’s keeper Sam Walker, although skipper James Coppinger’s shot on the half-hour mark was blocked inside the U’s penalty area.
The visitors should have gone ahead in the 44th minute. Porter headed goalwards from six yards out, only for keeper Marosi to make an instinctive save, at point blank range.
And Rovers made their opponents pay, for all those earlier missed chances, when Rowe guided them into a 1-0 lead on the stroke of half-time, lifting his shot over an exposed Walker.
Six minutes into the second period and Rovers nearly doubled their lead.
Coppinger floated over a teasing cross to the far post, where Marquis headed across the face of goal, and the ball only drifted inches wide of the far post before an onrushing Liam Mandeville could steer home.
Guthrie recorded two goal attempts on 56 minutes. He headed narrowly wide from Szmodics’ cross, and then saw his downward header, from Wynter’s cross, comfortably saved by Marosi on his goal-line.
Both sides then introduced all three of their substitutes, during a 15-minute period midway through the second half, with the U’s switching from a 4-1-4-1 to a 4-4-2 formation, with replacements Denny Johnstone and Macauley Bonne up top.
In the 74th minute, the U’s allowed striker Marquis to run half the length of the pitch uncontested, after one of their attacking set pieces broke down. Marquis rounded keeper Walker, but the back-pedalling Richard Brindley was able to clear off the goal-line.
The action quickly switched to the other end, where Marosi pulled off a good save to deny a marauding Szmodics.
Walker made a rare save in the 81st minute, dropping down to save a shot on the turn by Marquis, at the second attempt, while Bonne sent an overhead kick flying high over the bar following some pinball in the Rovers box.
On 84 minutes, Johnstone saw his diving header drop the wrong side of the far post, as the U’s searched in vain for a late equaliser, which would have been deserved.
DONCASTER: Marosi, Mason, Butler, Wright (sub Baudry), Evina, Houghton, Blair, Rowe (sub Calder, 57), Coppinger, Marquis, Mandeville (sub Middleton, 70). Unused subs: Etheridge, Beestin, Garratt, Longbottom.
COLCHESTER: Walker, Brindley, Prosser, Eastman, Wynter, Slater, Vincent-Young (sub Sembie-Ferris, 56), Guthrie (sub Bonne, 66), Szmodics, Wright, Porter (sub Johnstone, 64). Unused subs: Bransgrove, Doyley, James, Kamara.
Referee: Sebastian Stockbridge (Tyne)
Attendance: 5,007 (225 away fans)