Defeat effectively condemns Colchester United to League Two football
Colchester United 1 Peterborough United 4
Colchester United look certain to be playing League Two football next season, after losing at home to mid-table Peterborough this afternoon.
The U’s began the day really needing to win all five of their remaining matches, to stay up, but this defeat has effectively condemned them to relegation.
Even if they win their last four games, they will still only get to 50 points, which is unlikely to be enough for safety, especially when their poor goal difference is taken into account.
The U’s were caught cold by Jon Taylor’s opening goal, inside just two minutes.
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Left winger Taylor latched onto Aaron Williams’ flick-on and was in the clear as he ran through to direct his shot into the corner of the net, pat exposed keeper Elliott Parish.
The U’s should have been level in the 20th minute, only for George Moncur’s penalty to be beaten away by keeper Ben Alnwick.
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Elliot Lee struck a post, early in the second half, but the hosts could not fashion an equaliser and substitute Andrew Fox killed off the U’s with the visitors’ second on 67 minutes, sweeping home the loose ball after Nicky Shorey had blocked an initial shot.
Just two minutes later and Posh made it 3-0, with fellow substitute Shaquile Coulthirst squeezing a low shot past Parish from eight yards out, following Taylor’s intelligent cut-back.
Moncur did fire home a shot for the U’s, in the 77th minute, to notch his 12th goal of the season, but it was too late for them to mount a dramatic rally.
And Marcus Maddison ran through to net a fourth for visitors, deep into stoppage time, to complete the U’s misery.
So it now looks as though the U’s will be playing in the fourth tier next season, for the first time since 1998.
The U’s did not panic, after conceding Taylor’s second minute goal, and Moncur dragged a low shot wide from Lee’s slick pass on eight minutes.
However, Posh, and Taylor, should have been celebrating a second goal on 11 minutes.
Winger Taylor burst contested onto Erhun Oztumer’s excellent through ball, but squeezed his shot wide of the far post with just Parish to beat.
That was a bad miss by Taylor, and a lucky let-off for the U’s.
Back on the attack, the U’s were close to an equaliser in the 13th minute as Moncur’s goal-bound shot, from Owen Garvan’s lay-off, was deflected wide of the near upright, off a defender.
Moncur should have netted the equaliser on 20 minutes, when the U’s were awarded a penalty for right-back Santos’ foul on Lee, just outside the left-edge of the six-yard box.
However, the ensuing penalty from Moncur was at an easy height for keeper Alnwick to beat away the shot with strong hands.
Seconds later and Peterborough were threatening down the other end, with Parish only just managing to scramble Chris Forrester’s 25-yard shot around his post.
The U’s had the ball in the back of the net, in the 26th minute, Chris Porter diverting home Moncur’s initial shot, which was going off target, but the assistant referee had already raised his flag for offside against the U’s centre forward.
The visitors were under the cosh at times, as reflected in bookings for defenders Santos and Jack Baldwin.
In fact, it was end-to-end action, and Posh nearly doubled their lead in the 37th minute.
Parish failed to hold onto Oztumer’s fierce drive, from point blank range, but Joe Edwards was on hand to hoof the loose ball to safety from inside the six-yard box.
On 40 minutes, Posh centre-half Baldwin gifted possession to Gavin Massey, via a stray pass, but the U’s winger hesitated too long and his final shot was easily blocked.
Shortly afterwards and Porter, searching for an eighth goal of the season, ballooned a header wide of the near post from Garvan’s fine delivery.
Five minutes into the second half and only the woodwork denied the U’s an equaliser, Lee’s superb angled drive ricocheting to safety off the inside of the far post.
Massey completely missed his kick, when in a great position on 55 minutes, and Posh immediately threatened on the break with Parish doing well to keep out Marcus Maddison’s goal-bound shot with an outstretched leg.
But Parish was powerless to prevent Peterborough from scoring twice in a three-minute spell, through substitutes Fox (67) and Coulthirst (69) to kill off the U’s.
Macauley Bonne, on as a 72nd minute substitute, was twice denied by Alnwick in quick succession, seeing a shot and then a header saved by the big keeper.
Moncur gave the U’s a glimmer of hope, by firing into the top corner of the net with 13 minutes remaining, but it was too little, too late, and Maddison netted a fourth for Posh on 93 minutes.
COLCHESTER: Parish, Edwards, Kent, Eastman, Shorey, Garvan, Lapslie (sub Ambrose, 63), Massey (sub Bonne, 72), Moncur, Lee, Porter (sub Akinwande, 72). Unused subs: Barnes, Wright, Brindley, Chambers.
PETERBOROUGH: Alnwick, Almeida Santos, Baldwin, Bostwick, Smith (sub Fox, 65), Forrester, Taylor, Oztumer (sub Lopes, 75), Beautyman, Maddison, Williams (sub Coulthirst, 65). Unused subs: Tyler, Zakuani, Angol, Samuelsen.
Referee: Andrew Madley (West Yorks)
Attendance: 5,965 (567 away fans)