Colchester United slump to another defeat

Darren Ambrose, went close in the first half for the U's at Vale Park today

Darren Ambrose, went close in the first half for the U's at Vale Park today - Credit: Richard Blaxall/Focus Images Ltd

Port Vale 2 Colchester United 0

Basement dwellers Colchester United slithered to defeat on the road, at Port Vale this afternoon, beaten by a goal in each half from Theo Robinson and Sam Foley.

The U’s never reached the heights of their 2-1 win at Bradford, from four days earlier, a result which had ended a winless streak stretching to 19 league games.

Robinson should not really have got into a position to score the opener, after just nine minutes.

But Robinson managed to get the better of centre-half Jamie Harney inside the box, and then guide his right-footed shot into the far corner of the net.


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The U’s stayed in the game until the 73rd minute, when Sam Foley headed Vale into a 2-0 lead.

Parish had little chance as Foley met Michael O’Connor’s dangerous cross with a firm header which flew into the net, via the underside of the bar.

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So the U’s, with just 11 games left, remain in deep trouble at the foot of the table. League Two football looks a virtual certainty for next season.

U’s boss Kevin Keen made two changes to the side that secured their first league win in 133 days, at Bradford City in midweek.

Leo Chambers was sidelined after taking a knock in training, and so was replaced in the heart of defence by Harney – it was the ex-West Ham youngster’s first start.

The other change was more expected, with Alex Gilbey recalled to the starting line-up in central midfield, and Joe Edwards reverting to right-back, with Kane Vincent-Young dropped to the bench.

The U’s started brightly, but then gifted Vale an opening goal after nine minutes, Robinson shaking off the challenge of Harney to beat Parish with ease.

The visitors did not really threaten until the 16th minute, when George Moncur rifled in a low cross-cum-shot which was comfortably smothered by keeper Chris Neal.

Four minutes later and a patient U’s build-up, featuring midfielders Owen Garvan and Moncur, ended with Gavin Massey crashing a 25-yarder well over the bar.

At the other end, Anthony Grant was close to adding a second goal for Vale in the 22nd minute. Grant managed to dispossess Massey, just outside the U’s box, before crashing a fierce shot just a foot wide of the upright, with Parish rooted to the spot.

The game then rather drifted, with the U’s struggling to make any headway, although Darren Ambrose at least forced Neal into a regulation save from a long-range shot in the 32nd minute.

Two minutes later and Ambrose, who had scored both goals in the win at Bradford, was again in the thick of the action, nodding narrowly wide with a glancing header from Nicky Shorey’s probing cross.

Just before half-time and a confident Ambrose, not shy to try his luck from distance, scooped a 20-yarder well over the top.

Parish pulled off a terrific save to prevent Vale from doubling their lead in the 50th minute. The U’s keeper dived to his left to divert Foley’s goal-bound shot onto the top of his post, the ball ricocheting to safety.

On 54 minutes, the U’s made a double change with Elliot Lee and Nathan Oduwa coming on for Moncur and Massey.

Neal saved smartly from a goal-bound drive by Tottenham loanee winger Oduwa, who was quickly up to the pace of the game, and Macauley Bonne then appeared as a substitute for Porter up front in the 66th minute.

But the changes did not really have the desired effect for the U’s, and they duly conceded a second goal in the 73rd minute, via Foley’s thunderous header.

Vale could have added to their tally, and Parish did well to cling onto a low thunderbolt from Foley on 80 minutes.

The visitors rarely threatened a response, with Neal largely untroubled.

Ambrose did eye up the target from a free-kick, but his effort struck the defensive wall and ballooned wide.

Squads

PORT VALE: Neal, Purkiss, Duffy, Inniss, Dickinson, Kennedy (sub Moore, 57), O’Connor, Grant, Foley, Dodds, Robinson (sub Hooper, 57). Unused subs: Boot, McGivern, Birchall, Brown, Kelly.

COLCHESTER UNITED: Parish, Edwards, Harney, Eastman, Shorey, Garvan, Gilbey, Massey (sub Oduwa, 54), Moncur (sub Le, 54), Ambrose, Porter (sub Bonne, 66). Unused subs: Barnes, Wright, Lapslie, Vincent-Young.

Referee: Jeremy Simpson (Lancs)

Attendance: 4,116 (106 away fans)

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