Colchester United slither to defeat at 10-man Accrington Stanley
Accrington Stanley 2 Colchester United 1
Colchester United suffered a disappointing defeat at 10-man Accrington Stanley this afternoon.
The U’s dreadfully under-performed in the first-half, and were soon trailing to goals by leading scorer Billy Kee and Matty Pearson.
Home defender Omar Beckles was sent off, just before half-time, but although the U’s improved in the second half, they could only score once via Chris Porter’s 76th minute penalty.
It was therefore back-to-back defeats for the U’s, following the midweek home reverse at the hands of Crawley,
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Kee crashed home his 10th goal of the campaign on 18 minutes.
The Stanley striker wad left unmarked in the penalty area, latching onto Sean McConville’s precise cross before beating Sam Walker with a deadly finish from 12 yards out.
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The hosts doubled their lead in the 32nd minute, with McConville again providing the assist, this time from a corner.
McConville’s deep delivery was headed into the net by defender Pearson, although Walker got his hands to the ball and will therefore be disappointed not to have kept it out.
Just before half-time, Accrington were reduced to 10 men, centre-half Beckles sent off for a late challenge on Brennan Dickenson. It looked a harsh decision.
The U’s pulled a goal back in the 76th minute, via the penalty spot. Substitute Drey Wright was felled in the box by McConville, and Porter made no mistake with a crisp penalty to register his 10th goal of the campaign.
But the visitors could not rescue a point late on.
The U’s welcomed back Craig Slater into the starting line-up, following a niggling groin injury, while fellow key midfielder Owen Garvan was passed fit despite a recent knee problem.
The visitors settled well early on, persisting with the three-man central defence that had stood them in good stead in recent months – although specialist right-back Richard Brindley joined George Elokobi and Alex Wynter in the back-line today.
Dickenson, who had scored in the U’s last two games, cracked in the first shot of the game on six minutes. His goal-bound effort was charged down by the outstretched leg of centre-half Mark Hughes.
Right-winger Jordan Clark threatened first for Stanley, when the U’s failed to fully clear a 15th minute corner. Clark’s first shot was blocked, and his second was screwed wide off the outside of his boot.
Three minutes later and the U’s did concede an opening goal, with Kee drilling home his 10th goal of the campaign.
John McGreal’s side tried to respond quickly, but Slater skied a shot over the top from the edge of the penalty area in the 20th minute.
A free-kick, delivered by Garvan, caused problems in the home box on 23 minutes, and keeper Marek Rodak had to react quickly palm the ball to safety.
The injury-depleted U’s suffered yet another injury blow in the 25th minute, when striker Johnstone fell awkwardly in the penalty area and was left clutching his leg.
The Scotsman was stretchered off the pitch, after a few minutes treatment, to be replaced by Chris Porter, who was himself on the comeback trail after a hip injury.
Accrington came close to doubling their lead, on the half-hour mark, with Walker diving to his left to keep out a well-struck free-kick by Shay McCartan.
However, the U’s did leak a second goal from the ensuing corner, thanks to Pearson’s bullet header which was too powerful for Walker.
As a result of conceding this second goal, the U’s changed formations, ditching their three-at-the-back system in favour of a flat back four – Brindley moving to right-back, and Kane Vincent-Young filling the left-back role.
The U’s were all at sea, and Clark tried his luck with a 25-yarder which was sliced well wide of target in the 39th minute.
But there was a glimmer of hope for the visitors, when Accrington were reduced to 10 men in the 45th minute. Beckles was sent off for a late challenge on Dickenson.
McGreal made his final two substitutions at the start of the second half, with Drey Wright and Matt Briggs replacing Tom Lapslie and Brindley.
The U’s tried to get forward more in the second period, but Accrington spurned a great chance to add a third goal on the hour mark. McCartan was through on goal, but he drilled wide of target with just Walker to beat.
Midfielder Scott Brown blasted a long-range effort over the bar on 71 minutes, as Stanley continued to look the more likely scorers.
But it was the U’s who did get the next goal, Porter dispatching a 76th minute penalty.
Drey Wright tried to make room for himself to fashion an equaliser, just a minute later, but his shot from the edge of the box was charged down by a defender.
Porter so nearly equalised in the 81st minute. Elokobi’s spectacular overhead kick seemed to be heading for the net, but Porter’s instinctive touch saw the ball loop over the bar from point blank range.
Keeper Rodak dived to his right to smother a long-range shot by Slater on 86 minutes, while Guthrie flashed a header inches wide from Briggs’ 88th minute delivery.
ACCRINGTON STANLEY: Rodak, Rodgers, Pearson, Beckles, Hughes, Clark, Brown, Conneely, McConville, McCartan (sub Boco, 70), Kee. Unused subs: Chapman, Davies, Gornell, Clare, Husin, Edwards.
COLCHESTER UNITED: Walker, Brindley (sub Briggs, 46), Wynter, Elokobi, Vincent-Young, Lapslie (sub DRey Wright, 46) , Slater, Garvan, Dickenson, Guthrie, Johnstone (sub Porter, 26) Unused subs: Barnes, Fosu, James, Edge.
Referee: Richard Clark (Northumberland)
Attendance: 1,310 (208 away fans)