Freddie ready for U’s first team?

Teenage striker Freddie Ladapo put himself firmly in contention for a Colchester United first team call up tonight with a fine brace in the Essex Senior Cup final.

AFC Hornchurch 1 Colchester Utd 2

TEENAGE striker Freddie Ladapo put himself firmly in contention for a Colchester United first team call up tonight with a fine brace in the Essex Senior Cup final.

The second year academy prospect came off the bench on the hour mark to turn this game against Ryman League Premier Division side AFC Hornchurch on its head.

With the U’s trailing to Tommy Black’s 50th minute opener, former Southend youngster Ladapo scored a fine solo effort within seconds of his arrival before drilling home an excellent winner 12 minutes later.

It sealed Colchester’s first ever piece of Essex Senior Cup silverware and puts the powerful Ladapo firmly in line for a call-up to the striker-light first team squad ahead of Saturday’s League One opener at Exeter City.

U’s boss John Ward gave a good indication as to his starting line-up for the weekend by the Exeter by the players he left out of the squad.

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None of Brian Wilson, Paul Reid, Lloyd James, David Perkins, Kemi Izzet, Andy Bond, Anthony Wordsworth, Ian Henderson, Ashley Vincent, Steven Gillespie or Kayode Odejayi were in the squad last night.

And with Magnus Okuonghae and Pat Baldwin having half a match each it looks like it will be a straight choice between the two as to who partners Paul Reid at St James’ Park.

The combination of an unkempt pitch and non-league hosts well up for the occasion made for a scrappy match.

Playing with a 4-4-2 formation for the first time in pre-season, the U’s started with a mix of senior professionals and young academy products.

And it was two of the aforementioned teenagers that almost combined to give Colchester the lead in the second minute when Craig Arnott pulled the ball back for striking partner Michael Rafter to fire wide.

Minutes later Sam Corcoran delivered a fine cross to the back post, but Simon Hackney’s close range header was well saved by keeper Darren Behcet.

The game died somewhat after those early chances though, with the only real highlights of the first period a couple of lung-bursting runs from Simon Hackney down the left.

With the prospect of extra-time looming, the hosts took the lead just five minutes after the restart. Captain Elliot Styles’ shot was well saved by keeper Ben Williams – back in the side after the birth of his first child last weekend – but Black was on hand to ram the loose ball home.

The U’s were level soon after the hour mark though courtesy of a moment of magic from sub Lapado. Barely 30 seconds after replacing Rafter from the bench, the teenage striker weaved through a crowd of players on the edge of the box before finding the bottom corner.

And it was Ladapo who again came up with the goods in the 72nd minute when he latched onto Hackney’s long ball before drilling expertly into the bottom corner.

AFC Hornchurch: Behcet, Coyne, Hayles, Fletcher, Styles (cpt), Dormer, Black (Eyong 76), Shave (McSweeney 76), Flack (Burbridge 72), Richards, Spencer.

Unused Subs: Barnard, Bowditch.

Colchester Utd: Williams, White, Bender, Okuonghae (Baldwin 46), Heath (cpt), Elito, Hackney, Corcoran, Beevers, Arnott, Rafter (Ladapo 60).

Unused Subs: Cousins, Hamilton, Sanderson.

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