Dominant U’s pick up Walsall win
COLCHESTER United grabbed their second home win of the season in League One after Anthony Wordsworth’s first-half penalty gave them a 1-0 victory over ten-man Walsall.
The midfielder converted from the spot on 32 minutes after Michail Antonio was pulled back in the box by Andy Butler, who was subsequently sent-off.
But it could have been a lot more comfortable for the hosts who, through a combination of poor finishing and inspiring goalkeeping from Jimmy Walker, had to settle for a single-goal win.
The U’s began the game brightly with Antonio using his pace to good effect and Ian Henderson finding space to receive possession.
It was Henderson who had the first opportunity of the game, the diminutive striker seeing his near post header blocked by Walker before his rebound effort was deflected away for a corner.
The influential Wordsworth, who was seeing a lot of the ball in the middle of the park, then saw his free kick, similar to the one he scored at Brentford, saved by the impressive Walker.
The former West Ham stopper then denied Henderson. The striker was put through on goal but his dinked effort was parried away to safety by the onrushing goalkeeper.
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Kayodi Odejayi then put a header from Antonio’s cross over the bar before the incident that changed the complexion of the game.
The speedy Antonio was to hot to handle for Butler, down the right, and the defender pulled back the on-loan winger, conceding a penalty.
It was debatable whether or not he was the last man defending but referee Simon Hooper chose to send him off and Wordsworth squeezed the resulting penalty past Walker.
The visitors then made a tactical switch with midfielder Jamie Patterson sacrificed for defender Ollie Lancashire but it was the U’s who almost doubled their lead, only to see Walker deny Ben Coker at the back post with a smart save.
Odejayi should have put United 2-0 up after the break as John Ward’s side continued their dominance.
Andy Bond’s delicious 50-yard cross-field ball Henderson on the left and he crossed for the big striker.
Somehow, the big striker got underneath the ball and headed over the bar.
He was then denied a minute later as Walker again stopped the hosts from increasing their lead, rushing out to deny the big striker who was about to take aim.
Jon Macken briefly threatened for the visitors at the other end but was blocked off by two defenders, before Wordsworth missed a chance on 61 minutes.
Brian Wilson’s right-wing cross found the midfielder unmarked at the back post but, with the goal gaping, the in-form youngster skewed his effort wide from six yards when he should have scored.
Henderson was next to be played through as Colchester ramped up the pressure but he was denied by a superb last-ditch tackle by Mat Sadler as he looked to pull the trigger on the edge of the box.
Dean Smith’s side had no answer to Colchester but, with only one goal in it, nerves were becoming frayed as Colchester failed to add to their solitary goal, Wordsworth seeing a curling effort along the ground grasped by Walker.
The veteran Walsall goalkeeper was called into action again with 12 minutes to play, the stopper making a tremendous effort to flick Odejayi’s goal-bound header high out of the sky to his right.
The hosts kept pressing and after Karl Duguid replaced the hard-working Henderson, former U’s defender Lee Beevers had to chest a Brian Wilson cross back to his goalkeeper with Antonio pressurising him.
Duguid then got involved in the action but his header from Antonio’s right-wing cross was wayward and the ball went out for a goal kick.
Williams, Wilson, Baldwin, Okuonghae, Coker, Wordsworth, Bond, Izzet, Antonio, Henderson, Odejayi. Subs\; Duguid, Rose, Heath, White, James