Colchester United toppled by Aaron Wilbraham brace
Bristol City 2 Colchester United 1
Colchester United let a 1-0 lead slip as Aaron Wilbraham helped himself to a brace in Bristol City’s home win this afternoon.
It was looking so good for the depleted U’s – missing six first teamers through injury and suspension – when George Moncur broke the deadlock after just nine minutes.
Sean Cloheesy and Freddie Sears combined with impressive approach play before Moncur provided the perfect finish, side-footing home beyond keeper Frank Fielding into the far corner of the net.
It was West Ham loanee Moncur’s second goal in successive league games for the U’s, following his equaliser in the previous weekend’s 2-2 home draw against Oldham.
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The visitors were good value for their half-time lead, but they were dealt a blow by Wilbraham’s equaliser just 55 seconds into the second period.
The tricky Luke Freeman opened up the U’s defence and Wilbraham was the grateful recipient, tucking home a low shot from just outside the six-yard box.
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Wilbraham then popped up with what proved to be the winner on 68 minutes, heading home a corner at the near post after Sam Walker had ventured off his line but failed to intercept the cross.
It was a little cruel on the U’s, who perhaps deserved at least a point for their endeavours, especially as they were missing captain Magnus Okuonghae (suspended) and the injured quintet of Sanchez Watt, Drey Wright, David Wright, Josh Thompson and Tosin Olufemi.
The U’s operated with a 4-3-3 formation, manager Dunne choosing to bolster the midfield with the inclusion of Marcus Bean in the centre of the park.
Sears was on the right wing, and Gavin Massey on the left, and it was Sears, together with Clohessy, who was involved in the build up that led to Moncur’s ninth minute opener.
The goal rocked Bristol back on their heels, and left-back Greg Cunningham was very wayward with his shot, inside the box on 11 minutes, which should really have tested Sam Walker.
City came much closer to an equaliser in the 16th minute, as Aaron Wilbraham’s downward header was well smothered by Walker, following a free-kick routine.
Two minutes later and ex-Chelsea trainee Walker was quickly off his line to collect at the feet of danger-man Sam Baldock, who had walked away with the League One Golden Boot (24 goals) last season.
The U’s continued to threaten on the break, not least when Jabo Ibehre burst down the left flank on 21 minutes. But the big man’s cross-cum-shot was too strong for the onrushing Sears, and the ball drifted across goal and wide.
Ten minutes before the break and Ibehre was inches away from doubling the lead.
Keeper Frank Fielding scampered to the left-edge of his penalty area but was stuck in no man’s land as Ibehre arrived first to lob the ball over the stranded custodian. Unfortunately, Ibehre’s effort dropped just over the bar and onto the top of the net.
The Ashton Gate crowd was very quiet, and the home fans were frustrated again as another powder-puff effort, this time from Luke Freeman, rolled harmlessly into Walker’s hands via a deflection in the 40th minute.
The U’s looked comfortable for the rest of the half, but all that hard work was undone early in the second half, as Wilbraham steered home an equaliser within 55 seconds of the restart.
Alex Gilbey fancied his chances of regaining the lead for the U’s in the 51st minute, and his fierce 25-yarder was too hot to handle for keeper Fielding, although City’s No. 1 did enough to keep out the shot.
However, it was City who got their noses in front, via Wilbraham’s 68th minute header.
Dunne introduced his three substitutes in quick succession, following City’s second goal, with Sammie Szmodics, Dominic Vose and Dan Holman all coming on.
One of these, attacker Vose, shaped to shoot from the edge of the box in the 76th minute, but his effort bobbled well wide of target.
Clohessy spurned a gilt-edged chance to grab an equaliser in the 85th minute. The U’s right-back had acres of space at the far post, but screwed his half-volley over the bar.
That was the U’s last real chance of a disappointing afternoon.
BRISTOL CITY: Fielding, Little, Flint, Ayling, Williams, Elliott (sub Wagstaff, 88), Smith, Freeman (sub Pack, 65), Cunningham (sub El-Abd, 65), Wilbraham, Baldock. Unused subs: Richards, Emmanuel-Thomas, Burns, Bryan.
COLCHESTER UNITED: Walker, Clohessy, Kent, Eastman, Gordon, Gilbey, Moncur (sub Szmodics, 69), Bean, Sears, Ibehre (sub Holman, 75), Massey (sub Vose, 72), Unused subs: Lewington, Bonne, Curtis, O’Donoghue.
Referee: Brendan Malone (Wiltshire)