Colchester United suffer another defeat to remain in a relegation battle
Crawley Town 1 Colchester United 0
Colchester United twice struck the woodwork during the second half, but again suffered a defeat, this time at mid-table Crawley this afternoon.
Mike Jones bagged the only goal of the game with a cool finish in the 41st minute.
The U’s were poor in the second first, but improved after the break and perhaps deserved a point.
Sanchez Watt’s 59th minute header clipped the top of the bar, and substitute Dominic Vose went even closer with a cracking shot that cannoned back off the post on 82 minutes.
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But the U’s could not fashion an equaliser, and so have now managed just one victory in their last nine games, which is relegation form.
Former U’s loanee Billy Clarke was instrumental in Crawley’s winning goal, lifting a delightful pass through for Mike Jones deep inside the penalty area.
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Winger Jones kept his composure to round keeper Sam Walker and plant into an unguarded net, from an acute angle.
This result means that the U’s remain in a relegation battle, probably requiring four wins from their last 11 matches to secure safety.
The U’s made two changes to the side that disappointed in a 2-0 home defeat to Bradford City on Tuesday evening.
Jabo Ibehre was welcomed back after a pelvic injury, after missing the previous three games, while Craig Eastmond was recalled to bolster the midfield. Clinton Morrison and Gavin Massey were relegated to the bench.
It was Crawley who threatened first, on four minutes. Matt Tubbs chased onto Josh Simpson’s excellent through ball, which split open the U’s defence, but the home striker sliced his shot well wide of target.
Tubbs’ strike-force partner, Clarke, was the player who caught the eye during the early exchanges.
And it was the former Ipswich Town front-runner who registered the game’s first effort on target, his 15th minute low drive forcing Walker into a save. Walker initially dropped the ball, but dropped on it quickly.
Three minutes later and Walker was in the action again, dropping to his knees to smother Mike Jones’ fierce low drive.
The U’s had a succession of corners to defend, just before the half-hour mark, and from one of these left winger Jones crashed in a dangerous shot that was deflected wide.
The visitors finally registered their first goal attempt in the 29th minute, although Freddie Sears’ low shot skidded a foot wide of the far post.
But otherwise the U’s showed very little as an attacking force, for the rest of the first half, and it was no real surprise when Mike Jones slid home the opener for the Red Devils in the 41st minute.
Dunne responded by making a change for the start of the second half. Gavin Massey replaced Sears as the U’s changed from a 4-3-3 to a 4-4-2 formation, with Sanchez Watt supporting Ibehre up front.
And only the woodwork denied the U’s an equaliser in the 59th minute, Watt’s header clipping the top of the bar from David Wright’s cross.
It was certainly a brighter display from the U’s in the second period, although some indecision by Tom Eastman nearly led to a second goal for the hosts on 72 minutes.
Eastman appeared to be fouled by substitute James Proctor, but play was allowed to continue and skipper Simpson’s snap shot was blocked at point blank range.
The visitors struck the woodwork again, with eight minutes remaining, Vose’s shot out of the blue hitting the post and rebounding to safety.
Clinton Morrison had a shot blocked in the 88th minute as the U’s searched in vain for a late equaliser.
CRAWLEY: P Jones, M Connolly, McFadzean, Walsh, Sadler, Simpson, Bulman, Drury (sub Torres, 73), M Jones, Clarke, Tubbs (sub Proctor, 60). Unused subs: Maddison, Kaikai, Boateng, Dicker, P Connolly.
COLCHESTER: Walker, Wilson, Okuonghae, Eastman, Dickson, Bean, Wright, Eastmond (sub Vose, 71), Sears (sub Massey, 46), Ibehre (sub Morrison, 71), Watt. Unused subs: Cousins, Gilbey, Sesay, Bonne.
Referee: Chris Sarginson (Staffs)
Attendance: 3,182 (308 away fans)