Five talking points from Colchester United’s 3-0 win at Braintree Town
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Braintree Town 0 Colchester United 3
IN A NUTSHELL
A sweet brace from Sammie Szmodics helped Colchester United to a fifth successive victory from five pre-season friendlies, at Braintree Town this afternoon.
Szmodics had netted a brace in the U’s second pre-season fixture, at Needham Market, and he repeated the dose with another double at Cressing Road.
Livewire attacking midfielder Szmodics broke the deadlock by intercepting a loose ball, which George Craddock failed to control, to slot beyond advancing keeper Nathan McDonald in the 26th minute.
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And an in-form Szmodics, who had a loan spell at Braintree last season, doubled the lead in the 62nd minute with a neat and instinctive finish past McDonald from eight yards out.
And young Louis Dunne, playing at left wing-back in the second half, swept home a third from close-in on 82 minutes.
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In addition to recording a fifth win from five friendlies, to maintain their 100% record in pre-season, the U’s also made it five clean-sheets on the bounce.
The U’s three-man central defence looks here to stay for the coming season, after manager John McGreal first introduced it at Cheltenham last November, to halt a slide down the League Two table.
George Elokobi may have left, to join Leyton Orient, and Luke Prosser is still a long-term casualty with a knee injury, but the U’s have a number of options in the heart of defence.
They have certainly looked solid so far, although they have stronger competition to face in the coming days, weeks and months.
Summer signings Ryan Jackson and Cole Kpekawa were both in the starting line-up.
Jackson had several strong overlaps, from his right wing-back role, and delivered a few good low crosses into the box.
The ex-Gillingham man should get fitter over the coming fortnight, but he has big shoes to fill following Richard Brindley’s departure for Barnet.
Kpekawa, recruited from Barnsley, enjoyed his first pre-season outing on the left-wide of a three-man central defence.
The ex-QPR defender has operated most of his career as a left-back, but he has the size and presence to slot into their centre-half role, with Lewis Kinsella as the roving wing-back.
Kpekawa played just the first 45 minutes, being replaced at half-time by Cameron James.
Big striker Mikael Mandron, signed from Wigan Athletic yesterday, made his debut in a U’s shirt as a 60th minute substitute.
He looks very agile, for a tall man (6ft 3ins), and should prove to be an exciting acquisition.
Mandron had appeals for a penalty turned down, and also had a snap shot deflected narrowly over the bar in the 75th minute. The Frenchman was denied a late goal by another smart save from Nathan McDonald in the 87th minute.
It’s been all-change at Braintree Town, since suffering relegation from the National League (Conference) last season, with a new manager in Brad Quinton, and a completely new team.
There are virtually no survivors from the core of last season’s first-team squad, but they acquitted themselves well this afternoon, operating with a three-man central defence.
Nathan McDonald, who re-signed for the Iron this summer (he was a stalwart of Alan Devonshire’s regime), made a couple of excellent saves from point blank range in the first-half, to thwart Denny Johnstone (19mins) and then Lewis Kinsella (28).
He also diverted a 20-yarder from Kane Vincent-Young over his bar with strong hands on 76 minutes.
It is a big last week of pre-season fixtures ahead for the U’s.
They entertain Ipswich Town on Tuesday evening, and then play host to League One visitors Gillingham next Friday night.
The Gills signed prolific striker Liam Nash from Maldon & Tiptree yesterday, on a two-year deal for an undisclosed fee.
BRAINTREE: McDonald, Muleba, Gabriel, Okoye, Frimpong, Shulton, Craddock, Crook, D Wynter ,Ottaway, Wyatt. Subs used: Allen, Bettache, Robinson.
COLCHESTER: Barnes, Jackson (sub Vincent-Young, 60), A Wynter (sub Kent, 71), Eastman, Kpekawa (sub James, 46), Kinsella (sub Dunne, 46), Issa (sub Mandron, 60), Diaz Wright (sub Lapslie, 71), O’Sullivan (sub Murray, 71), Szmodics (sub Slater, 71) , Johnstone (sub Drey Wright, 46),
Referee: Carl Pearce