Colchester United’s nightmare run continues
Colchester United 1 Swindon Town 4
Colchester United’s relegation fears deepened, as Swindon Town, without a goal in their three previous matches, scored four at the Weston Homes Community Stadium this afternoon.
Nicky Ajose scored a brace in the 35th and 56th minutes, before Michael Doughty added a brace of his own in the 57th and 72nd minutes.
Joe Edwards had temporarily given the U’s hope by netting with a sweet half-volley to make it 3-1 in the 64th minute.
But it was not enough to lift the gloom.
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The U’s have now failed to win in 16 league matches, with 13 defeats and three draws.
In fact, Kevin Keen’s men have won only one of their last 20 league fixtures, a miserable run that seems certain to end in relegation to League Two.
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Ajose set the trend in the 35th minute.
The U’s allowed defender Nathan Thompson to slide a ball through for Ajose, and the Robins striker controlled before clipping the ball beyond Elliott Parish from close-in.
It was a slick finish by Ajose, bringing up his 14th league goal of the season, but the U’s could have done more to close down the supply.
Ajose was celebrating his 15th league goal of the campaign, just 11 minutes into the second half, as he fired home first-time from 10 yards out, giving Parish no chance.
And, as has happened so often this season, the U’s shipped anther goal soon afterwards.
Doughty was given far too much time and space, just outside the penalty area, and he let fly with a thunderbolt that soared into the top corner of the net.
Edwards reduced the arrears, in the 64th minute, via a wonderful half-volley from the edge of the box.
But the U’s hopes of staging a comeback were quashed by Doughty, who tucked home his second and Swindon’s fourth in the 72nd minute, his shot on the turn squeezing in at the post.
Manager Keen made three changes to his side, from last weekend’s 3-0 defeat at Southend.
Alex Gilbey was serving the first of a three-match suspension, while Owen Garvan was only fit enough to be named amongst the substitutes, due a slight niggle. George Elokobi was also dropped to the bench.
In came Nicky Shorey for U’s his debut, at left-back, with Elliot Lee also handed his first start since last month’s loan move from West Ham. Darren Ambrose also returned to the starting line-up.
The U’s started brightly, operating with a 4-4-2 formation, and right winger Gavin Massey almost set up an early chance for Chris Porter, although his dangerous cross was cut out before it could reach his skipper, who was lurking inside the six-yard box.
Swindon threatened first in the eighth minute, Elliott Parish standing up well to beat away a goal-bound drive from James Brophy.
Six minutes later and Robins right wing-back, Bradley Barry, connected with a spectacular 25-yard volley, although his effort soarded harmlessly over the bar.
At the other end, keeper Lawrence Vigouroux, on loan from Liverpool, was called into action for the first time in the 15th minute, although he was hardly troubled by Gavin Massey’s 20-yard daisy-cutter.
Vigouroux had a bigger test, dealing with George Moncur’s cross-cum shot, which he managed to palm away from goal, and he then had to be alert to keep out Porter’s downward header in the 17th minute with a tumbling save.
United were pressing, and Porter ballooned a free header over the bar from the ensuing corner. He lost his balance at the vital moment.
Just before the half-hour mark, a patient Colchester build-up, with debutant Shorey the main instigator, ended with Moncur’s ferocious 20-yarder being well blocked by Vigouroux.
But it was Swindon who took the lead, thanks to Ajose’s simple finish in the 35th minute.
The U’s tried to respond quickly and a cross-cum-shot by the lively Lee was squeezed wide of the near post, with team-mates queuing up to divert home.
Lee was in the action again in the 42nd minute, and this time he managed to pick out Porter. However, the big man failed to connect cleanly with his shot, and keeper Vigouroux was able to block with his legs. The follow-up shot by Ambrose was also charged down, by a defender.
Parish prevented Swindon from doubling their lead, in the last minute of the first period. Jonathan Obika was through on goal, but was denied by a terrific save from Parish, at point blank range.
Into the second half and Parish again came to his rescue, by smothering defender Jordan Turnbull’s fierce low drive in the 50th minute.
But Parish was beaten twice in quick succession, by Ajose’s second goal of the game in the 56th minute, and then Doughty’s marvellous shot on 57 minutes, to put Swindon 3-0 up.
Edwards pulled a goal back, with a superb goal of his own in the 64th minute, and Parish made sure it stayed at 3-1 by saving well from James Brophy just a minute later.
But Parish was powerless to prevent Swindon from restoring their three-goal advantage, via Doughty’s second goal of the afternoon on 72 minutes.
COLCHESTER: Parish, Brindley, Kent, Eastman, Shorey, Ambrose (sub, Garvan, 59), Moncur, Massey (sub Wright, 59), Lee, Porter (sub Bonne, 59). Unused subs: Barnes, Elokobi, Lapslie, Vincent-Young.
SWINDON: Vigouroux, Rossi, N Thompson, Turnbull, Brophy, Barry, Rodgers (sub Traore, 68), Landolo (sub L Thompson, 62), Doughty, Ajose (sub Hylton, 77), Obika. Unused subs: Belford, Marshall, Cooke, Young.
Referee: Stephen Martin (Staffs)
Attendance: 3,269 (423 away fans)