Crawley Town 0 Colchester United 2, match report: U’s continue surge up the table
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Crawley Town 0 Colchester United 2
Colchester United strengthened their promotion push with an impressive victory on the road in the rain at Crawley Town this afternoon.
Mikael Mandron put the U’s in the driving seat with an opening goal after just four minutes, and deadly marksman Sammie Szmodics then doubled the lead just before the hour mark, with his 12th goal of the campaign.
Drey Wright and Mandron combined to devastating effect on the breakaway for the quickfire opener.
Wright surged down the right and exchanged passes with Mandron inside the box, although left-back Cedric Evina should really have stopped the threat by clearing his lines.
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Instead, however, Evina hesitated and Mandron nipped in to steal the ball and slam into the net from 10 yards out.
Szmodics doubled the U’s advantage in the 57th minute.
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On-song Szmodics latched onto Brandon Comley’s fine through ball and kept his composure to lift his shot over the advancing keeper, Yusuf Mersin, and into the roof of the net.
It was the 22-year-old’s seventh goal in his last eight appearances.
John McGreal’s in-form side have now lost two of their last 15 league outings, and will look to continue that fine record at Chesterfield on Saturday.
The U’s were unchanged for the third successive game, following the 3-2 win at Swindon and the 1-1 home draw against Port Vale last Saturday.
Centre-half Ryan Innis again missed out, because of a sore shoulder.
Crawley had to make a change to their line-up just minutes before the start, due to first choice keeper Glenn Morris suffering an injury in the warm-up. His place was taken by stand-in keeper Mersin.
And one of Mersin’s first touches was to pick the ball out of his net, after just four minutes, following Mandron’s eighth goal of the season.
It was a terrific piece of alert play by Mandron, who capitalised on Evina’s hesitancy in the danger zone to bury a low shot past Mersin.
Crawley continued to make individual errors, in an unconvincing first quarter of the game, which was strange when considered that they were fresh from a 3-2 win at high-flying Accrington Stanley last Saturday, and had also won their previous two home league games against Exeter and Mansfield.
Goalscorer Mandron fancied his chances again in the 16th minute, from Ryan Jackson’s long throw into the box, although the big man’s header soared over the bar.
Sam Walker had very little to do during the first half-hour, although he did launch himself to punch away a cross-cum-shot by Evina in the 18th minute.
Walker looked to be exposed by a Crawley attack on 32 minutes. Jordan Roberts looked poised to score, from Lewis Young’s set-up, but his effort was blocked at point blank range by the excellent Tom Eastman.
At the other end, right-back Jackson, always eager to get forward, drilled in a low shot through a crowded penalty area which was safely smothered by keeper Mersin in the 40th minute.
Into the second half and U’s leading scorer Szmodics registered a couple of early shots, the first blocked and the second skied over the top.
Crawley boss Harry Kewell had made a double change for the start of the second half, and one of these substitutes, Mark Randall, created space for himself before seeing his shot diverted behind for a corner off the covering Jackson.
But any hopes of a Red Devils rally were scuppered by Szmzodics racing through to scoop his shot over Mersin, and so chalk up his 12th goal of the season to double the U’s lead just before the hour mark.
Substitute Ibrahim Meite did have a good chance to halve the deficit shortly afterwards, only for the striker to head straight at Walker, who caught with ease.
Szmodics was clear of the Crawley defence again in the 65th minute, although this time his fierce angled shot flew over the bar.
Kurtis Guthrie made his long-awaited return from an ankle injury, as an 84th minute substitute, to seal another fine day for the U’s.
CRAWLEY: Mersin, Young, Connolly, Lelan, Evina, Yorwerth, Clifford, Djalo (sub Payne, 63), Verheydt (sub Randall, 46), Sanoh (sub Meite, 46), Roberts. Unused subs: Doherty, Bulman, Lewis.
COLCHESTER: Walker, Jackson, Eastman, Kent, Vincent-Young, Comley, Lapslie, Reid (sub Murray, 79), Wright, Mandron (sub Guthrie, 84), Szmodics (sub Hanlan, 88). Unused subs: Gilmartin, Kpekawa, Slater, Odelusi.
Referee: Antony Coggins (Oxfordshire)
Attendance: 2,154 (375 away fans)