Senior and Jackson on target as U’s cruise to victory over Vale

Ryan Jackson is congratulated by team-mate Brennan Dickenson after scoring to put the U's 2-0 ahead.

Ryan Jackson is congratulated by team-mate Brennan Dickenson after scoring to put the U's 2-0 ahead. Picture: STEVE WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Colchester United 2 Port Vale 0

Colchester United dazzled in their first home fixture of the new season, bagging first-half goals by Courtney Senior and Ryan Jackson to secure a comfortable win over Port Vale this afternoon.

Senior’s eighth minute opener was a class goal. He ghosted past a couple of challenges and exchanged a slick one-two with Brennan Dickenson, before dinking the ball over the advancing Scott Brown from 10 yards out.

Jackson’s goal was just as good, handing the U’s a 2-0 lead in the 23rd minute.

Szmodics was the creator, his deft back-heel release the onrushing Jackson, who burst into the penalty area before directing his low shot beyond Brown and into the far corner of the net.

It was a great finish by right-back Jackson, the sort of finish that any striker would have been proud to produce.

The U’s should really have added to their goal-tally during a dominant display, but even so this was a very encouraging performance.

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U’s boss McGreal had made two changes to the side which drew 0-0 at Notts County last weekend.

Senior was preferred to Aaron Collins in an attacking role on the right, while Kane Vincent-Young, who signed a new contract on Monday, came into the starting line-up at the expense of Tom Eastman.

Vincent-Young’s inclusion enabled McGreal to revert to a four-man defence, in a 4-2-3-1 formation, and the U’s were soon on top.

Frank Nouble, on his home debut, had a golden chance to score inside the first three minutes, although his shot was charged down by the outstretched leg of defender Connell Rawlinson.

But the U’s did break the deadlock, in the eighth minute, thanks to Senior’s smart finish to chalk up the Essex club’s first goal of the 2018-19 campaign.

Vale were rocking, and they were relieved to see Szmodics’ cross-cum-shot fly across the face of goal and wide, with no home player on hand to apply a finishing touch, on 10 minutes.

The visitors, by comparison, were very quiet for the first quarter-of-an-hour, David Worrell ballooning a long-range shot over the bar which failed to troubled Dillon Barnes in the 16th minute.

Barnes was called into his first save of the match, just before the 20-minute mark. He showed good reactions to keep out Tom Pope’s downward header in front of his post.

Jackson gave the U’s some breathing space by doubling the lead in the 23rd minute, and the hosts continued to boss proceedings before the break.

Senior left three defenders trailing in his wake with a superb run through the middle, before he was upended on the edge of the box by defender Rawlinson, who was duly booked. The free-kick from Dickenson sailed a yard over the bar.

Vale suffered another blow when their talisman striker, Tom Pope, was substitute in the 40th minute due to what looked like a back injury.

Into the second half and Nouble was only a foot over the top with a fierce drive from the edge of the box, as the U’s searched for a killer third.

Nouble blew a great chance to score his first goal for the club in the 51st minute. Szmodics capitalised on an error by left-back Cristian Montano and squared for Nouble, who was in acres of space inside the box with just keeper Brown to beat. But the striker blasted his shot well over the bar. That was a bad miss.

Two minutes later and Nouble skied another shot over the bar, although this time the ball took a slight deflection off a defender.

Vale hardly threatened, although substitute Leon Legge’s close range shot did force a good save from Barnes on 81 minutes.

Substitute Mikael Mandron nearly steered home Szmodics’ cross in the 82nd minute, and fellow substitute Aaron Collins was denied by Brown late on, but by then Vale were a well-beaten side.

COLCHESTER: D Barnes, Jackson, Prosser, Kent, Vincent-Young (sub Collins, 80), Lapslie, Pell, Senior (sub Comley, 83), Szmodics, Dickenson, Nouble (sub Mandron, 69). Unsued subs: Ross, Norris, Wright, Eastman.

PORT VALE: Brown, Gibbons (sub Legge 64), Rawlinson, Smith, Montano, Joyce, Worrall, Oyeleke, Hannant (sub Quigley, 70) Miller, Pope (sub Dodds, 40). Unused subs: Hornby, Kanu, Tonge, Vassell.

Referee: M Donohue (Manchester)

Attendance: 3,183 (311 away fans)

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