Cousins saves maintain U’s unbeaten start
npower League One Southampton 0 Colchester United 0 COLCHESTER United saw off a second half storm to maintain their unbeaten start to the season at Southampton this afternoon.
U’s keeper Mark Cousins made three fine saves from Rickie Lambert – two in stoppage time – as the Essex side failed to get the ball to stick in the final third.
However, Colchester could – and probably should – have won it two minutes from time when sub Kayode Odejayi and Ashley Vincent failed to finish off a golden counter-attack opportunity.
U’s boss John Ward made just one enforced change to his side following last weekend’s 1-1 home draw with Plymouth, with injured right-back Brian Wilson (foot) replaced by John White.
Pre-season title favourites Southampton came into this game joint-bottom following four successive defeats without a goal to their name, but a large St Mary’s crowd were in fine voice as new manager Nigel Adkins was introduced to the home fans for the first time.
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Following an even opening 10 minutes, Southampton began to impose themselves on the game with former Southend striker Lee Barnard – back in the side after a three match suspension – looking particularly dangerous.
With the crowd behind them the hosts got on top of the game for a period as midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin curled a free-kick into the side-netting and hit another low drive straight at keeper Mark The tenacious U’s stuck to their task though and the hosts’ momentum began to peter out somewhat as the half wore on.
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Colchester were forced into a change after 35 minutes when Marc Tierney, seemingly holding his hip, was replaced by ex-Southampton midfielder Lloyd James. He went to an unfamiliar right-back role, with John White filling at left-back.
After a scrappy finish to the first half, Colchester were dealt another defensive injury blow prior to the restart. Pat Baldwin had returned to the field but, second before kick-off, he signalled to the bench that he couldn’t continue. Completely unprepared, Paul Reid was thrown and shirt and thrust into the action.
Much like the first half, an even opening soon gave way to Southampton gradually building up a head of steam. Andy Bond made a good block on a twisting Jason Puncheon in the box, Cousins made a fine save from a Rickie Lambert close range volley, while Danny Butterfield saw a low drive deflected just wide.
The U’s then had makeshift full-back James to thank in the 68th minute when he produced a superb saving tackle on Lambert in the box.
With Colchester unable to make the ball stick in the final third, Southampton desperately pushed for a winner as the game wore on.
However, after surviving a number of dangerous free-kicks and corners, it was Colchester that should have snatched it two minutes from time when Vincent acrobatically back-heeled a long ball forward to send fresh sub Kayode Odejayi in the clear. Inexplicably the Nigerian dwelled on the ball to allow the defender to get back and, even then, the ball came out to Vincent for another fine opportunity which he hit straight at the keeper.
Southampton threw everything forward in stoppage time but keeper Cousins produced two excellent diving saves from Lambert free-kicks to keep it goalless.
– Full match report and reaction in Monday’s EADT.
Southampton (4-4-2): Davis; Butterfield, Harding (Dickson 72), Fonte, Seaborne; Chamberlain (Do Prado 90), Puncheon (Holmes 72), Schneiderlin, Hammond (cpt); Barnard, Lambert.
Unused Subs: Bialkowski, Jaidi, Pulis, Doble.
Booked: Butterfield (70).
Colchester (4-3-3): Cousins; White, Tierney (James 35), Okuonghae, Baldwin (Reid 46); Izzet, Bond, Perkins; Vincent, Wordsworth, Mooney (Odejayi 86).
Unused Subs: Williams, Heath, I.Henderson, L.Henderson.
Booked: Okuonghae (83).
U’s Man-of-the-Match: Mark Cousins
Referee: Mr G Horwood.