Five talking points from Colchester United’s home defeat to Gillingham
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Colchester United 1 Gillingham 2
IN A NUTSHELL
Colchester United under-performed against Gillingham in their last pre-season friendly of the summer, despite a strong last quarter of the game tonight.
Ex-Ipswich Town attacker Lee Martin rifled home the opener on 29 minutes, and Josh Parker nodded in the second just nine minutes into the second half.
The U’s at least pulled a goal back, via summer signing Ryan Jackson’s first goal for the club in the 70th minute. He slid the ball beyond keeper Thomas Holy from eight yards out.
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It was a much-changed side from the one that started against Ipswich Town on Tuesday night, with only four survivors from that XI in tonight’s starting line-up.
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The quartet in question was keeper Sam Walker, centre-halves Tom Eastman and Cole Kpekawa, and recent signing Mikael Mandron.
Certainly, I suspect that there might be a few more changes for the first game of the new season, away at Accrington Stanley next Saturday.
Right wing-back Ryan Jackson, plus midfielders Sammie Szmodics and Sean Murray, together with attacker Drey Wright, will be amongst those hoping to start at Accrington, who were only on the bench tonight.
But the 3-4-1-2 formation looks settled. It worked well during the second half of last season, and boss John McGreal has persisted with it during pre-season, ahead of the Essex club’s second season back at League Two level.
The U’s created virtually nothing in the first half, despite enjoying a lot of possession, especially during the last 20 minutes of the first period.
Connor Ogilvie beat Sam Walker all ends up from long range inside the first three minutes, only for the ball to cannon back off the bar and roll to safety.
Martin then turned to fire in a shot that Walker easily smothered on 12 minutes.
The U’s only goal-attempt of the first period was from 25 yards out, Craig Slater’s effort sailing into the arms of under-worked keeper Thomas Holy.
Two minutes before Martin’s opening goal, centre forward Tom Eaves’ header towering header, from a free kick, was well saved by Walker diving to his right.
Martin ran onto Parker’s through ball to rifle home the opener in the 29th minute, and Walker did well to prevent the Gills doubling the lead by diverting Parker’s shot over the bar from point blank range.
But Parker was not to be denied, heading home the second in the 54th minute. His deft header, from Martin’s corner, beat replacement keeper Rene Gilmartin and rolled in via the inside of the post.
Jackson halved the deficit against his former club by latching onto Mandron’s knock-down and slipping a low shot beyond the reach of Holy.
PRE-SEASON AS A WHOLE
The U’s won their first five friendlies, without conceding a goal, thanks to away triumphs at Maldon & Tiptree, Needham Market, Welsh club Llandudno and Braintree, and a 2-0 home win over a West Ham XI.
But they have, as expected, found the going much tougher in their last two encounters, against better opposition.
They disappointed in a 1-0 home defeat by Ipswich on Tuesday night, and were again second best for long periods of this latest test against League One visitors Gillingham.
The U’s have been relatively fortunate with the lack of injuries sustained in pre-season.
However, centre-half Frankie Kent was not involved at all tonight, and midfielder Doug Loft limped off with another niggle before the hour mark, a worrying sight.
COLCHESTER: Walker (sub Gilmartin, 46), Eastman, Wynter, Kpekawa (sub James, 66), Vincent-Young (sub Jackson 46), Loft (sub Lapslie, 58), O’Sullivan (sub Szmodics, 66), Kinsella (sub Issa, 81), Slater (sub Murray, 66), Johnstone (sub Wright, 66), Mandron.
GILLINGHAM (starting XI): Holy, O’Neill, Zakuani, Ehmer, Wagstaff, Byrne, Bingham, Ogilvie, Martin, Eaves, Parker. Used subs: Mbo, Stevenson, Simpson, Oldacre (all on 83 mins).
Referee: Mr G Ward