Colchester United’s unbeaten run comes to an end after 3-0 defeat at Exeter City

Brennan Dickenson

Brennan Dickenson - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Colchester United’s nine-game unbeaten run came to an end at in-form Exeter City on Saturday afternoon, the U’s losing 3-0 at St James Park.

Goals from Reuben Reid, in the first half, and David Wheeler and substitute Liam McAlinden in the second, secured Exeter’s third home win of the season – and extended their own unbeaten run to nine games.

The U’s tormentor-in-chief however was the highly-rated Ollie Watkins, the attacking midfielder setting up all three goals for the Grecians, who have now taken 23 goals from a possible last 27.

The result was harsh on Colchester, who had chances of their own, but Brennan Dickenson and Chris Porter were wasteful in the second half with the score at 1-0.

The U’s, who like Exeter had won five of their last six games, made one change to the team that drew at Newport a week ago, Drey Wright replacing the injured Owen Garvan.

There was also a place on the bench for Welsh Under-21 international, Tommy O’Sullivan, who signed on a permanent deal from Cardiff City on Friday.

Colchester played their usual 3-5-2 setup, in the absence of Garvan, while Exeter were unchanged.

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Reid gave the Grecians the lead on 20 minutes, with his sixth goal of the season. Watkins took Troy Brown’s diagonal ball down on a sixpence and, after committing three U’s defenders, found the unmarked Reid on the right of the 18-yard box – the former Plymouth striker taking a touch before firing low and hard across Walker.

That came after a period of pressure from the hosts, who had recovered after the U’s had made a quick start, John McGreal’s men forcing a number of corners and Christy Pym, in the Exeter goal, having to tip over a dipping Dickenson free-kick from outside the box.

Prior to Reid’s goal, Exeter showed why they are top of the League Two form table though, former Colchester midfielder Lloyd James twice testing Sam Walker from range – the second effort rebounding out to Jack Stacey who, in an offside position, headed wide with the goal at his mercy.

After Reid’s goal, the U’s became a touch disjointed, especially from set-pieces and Brown spurned two headers in a minute, both at the back post, heading wide from fantastic corners from Craig Woodman and James.

Watkins was proving a thorn in the U’s side, on the right, but when the visitors did attack, their best offensive play came from their right, with Richard Brindley menacing in possession and linking up well with Wright and Craig Slater.

The U’s came out with the bit between their teeth in the second half, after an indifferent first period and twice could have equalised within the first 15 minutes.

Dickenson was put through on the left, but lacked composure as he fired high and wide of the near post, despite Porter waiting for a cross in the middle.

Then Porter saw a close-range effort deflected just over the bar by a defender, after good centre from Dickenson. He should have at least got an effort on target.

Dickenson also saw two close-range efforts blocked by the opposition and Colchester’s wastefulness was to cost them dear, Wheeler scoring a second on 77 minutes.

The goal came after Exeter broke quickly. After Watkins drew men across the field, he found Wheeler on the left who ran into the 18-yard box and calmly slid the ball under Walker’s left hand.

McAlinden wraped up the points with a minute of normal time to goal, finishing from a similar position to Wheeler, after receiving a pass, again from Watkins.