Colchester United ship three second-half goals to lose vital relegation clash
Colchester United 2 Crewe Alexandra 3
Colchester United slithered deeper into the relegation mire, after losing at home to lowly rivals Crewe Alexandra this afternoon.
The U’s were 1-0 up at half-time, thanks to Chris Porter’s 45th minute strike, but they then shipped three goals in the second period.
Goals by James Jones, Nicky Ajose and Anthony Grant sealed a vital win for the Cheshire visitors, to open up a four-point gap between themselves and the U’s, despite an 85th minute consolation from Jack Marriott.
It had looked like so encouraging for the U’s, when a cracking finish by Porter put the 1-0 up in the 45th minute.
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The ex-Sheffield United striker made the most of a slip by defender George Ray, turning to lash home a left-footed shot from just outside the box.
It was almost on a par with Porter’s sweet strike at Bradford City the previous weekend, in only his second appearance for the U’s.
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But Crewe were level in the 68th minute. Leeds loanee Ajose sneaked past Alex Wynter on the right edge of the box and crossed into the danger zone.
Lauri Dalla Valle controlled the ball and in came midfielder Jones to sweep home from eight yards out, his shot seeming to go through Sam Walker’s legs.
Five minutes later and the U’s were suddenly trailing. Ajose ran onto Grant’s defence-splitting through ball and kept his cool to tuck home his shot beyond the reach of Walker and in at the far corner of the net.
And it was Grant who extended the Railwaymen’s lead, by directing home a pinpoint low drive.
Ipswich Town loanee Marriott, on as a 79th minute substitute, gave the U’s hope by turning to crash home a shot from close in with five minutes remaining.
But alas, it counted for nothing.
The U’s were the first to show, with Gavin Massey charging into the Crewe box on a strong run in the seventh minute. The winger turned to create space for himself, but his final shot was blocked by centre-half Ray.
Fresh from scoring his first goal for the U’s at Bradford seven days earlier, Porter was close to adding to that tally in the 10th minute.
Porter let fly with a ferocious volley on the turn which whistled only a foot wide of the near post.
At the other end, a mistake by Sean Clohessy allowed Jamie Ness a sight of goal in the 15th minute. Ness pounced onto Clohessy’s poor touch, only to miscue his shot the wrong side of the upright.
Crewe began to have some more joy, midway through the first half. They bossed possession, but without an end product, Anthony Grant blasting one 20-yarder well over the bar.
Just before the half-hour mark, Nicky Ajose delivered a menacing low cross into the six-yard box. James Jones failed to connect, and Alex Wynter gratefully cleared behind to concede a corner. That was a let-off for the U’s.
Crewe continued to dictate and defender George Ray saw his header deflected off target, from Jamie Ness’ 42nd minute corner.
However, it was the U’s who took the lead, on the stroke of half-time, thanks to Porter’s fantastic finish from 20 yards out to rattle up his second goal for the club.
Into the second period and Ajose whipped over a teasing cross, which Lauri Dalla Valle headed over the bar from just outside the six-yard box.
Ness had half-a-chance in the 53rd minute. Tom Lapslie failed to clear, from inside his penalty area, but Ness’ snap shot was diverted over the bar off a covering defender.
The U’s soaked up the pressure before Porter came close to doubling the lead in the 67th minute. His well-struck low shot flew into the side netting.
But the home side were then caught cold by two goals in a five-minute spell, from Jones and Ajose, to leave them trailing going into the final 15 minutes of the game.
The U’s tried to grab a quick equaliser, and Porter was lurking as Szmodics crossed into the six-yard box on 76 minutes. But the ball drifted just behind Porter.
Grant made it 3-1 to the visitors on 81 minutes, and there was still time for Marriott to reduce the arrears, but it was not enough to rescue a point.
COLCHESTER: Walker, Clohessy, Wynter, Eastman, Briggs, Fox, Lapslie, Massey, Szmodics, Watt (sub Marriott, 79), Porter. Unused subs: Lewington, Gordon, Vincent-Young, McEvoy, Bonne, Sembie-Ferris.
CREWE: Garratt, Turton, Davis, Ray, Tate, Jones, Grant, Leigh, Ness, Ajose, Dalla Valle (sub Habere, 72). Unused subs: Etheridge, Inman, Cooper, Nolan, Baillie, Stewart.
Referee: Tim Robinson (West Sussex)