Frustration sums up Crewe visit

ONE word neatly sums up Colchester United's dismal experience at Crewe on Saturday - frustrating.

Carl Marston

ONE word neatly sums up Colchester United's dismal experience at Crewe on Saturday - frustrating.

The U's were frustrating in attack, with a succession of miscued shots and misplaced crosses, and they were frustrating at the back, with two soft goals leaked from set pieces.

Just when you thought things couldn't get any worse, a frustrated Steven Gillespie was then sent off for a rash challenge on Crewe right-back Danny Woodards. There were just three minutes left, and the game was already lost.

The performance of referee Iain Williamson also frustrated U's players and supporters alike. He construed to show four yellow cards and one red to the visitors, and nothing to the hosts. United could rightly feel to be slightly hard done by.

As a result, the U's are now sitting just above the relegation zone, and Gillespie is likely to be lumbered with a three-match suspension.

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It has certainly not been the rip-roaring start to the season that the U's had hoped, following relegation from the Championship last term.

Just one win in five league starts has already left them playing catch up. The squad looks strong enough to progress up the table, but as yet they cannot find any momentum.

The winning habit is difficult to find, and it's now 17 months since the U's enjoyed back-to-back victories.

Geraint Williams' men certainly had sufficient possession to get their noses in front against Crewe, who themselves had only won one of their first five league games.

But their shooting let them down badly. Keeper Steve Collis only had one save to make in the first half, when plucking Anthony Wordsworth's shot out of the air. Otherwise, the likes of Wordsworth and Scott Vernon peppered the target, mostly from long-range, while Mark Yeates had countless shots blocked by defenders.

Two minutes into the second half and Crewe took the lead. John White was unlucky to be penalised for a foul on burly striker Calvin Zola, but Michael O'Connor's free-kick should not have been allowed to slip into the net. Keeper Dean Gerken looked to have it covered, but the ball squirmed in without anyone else getting a touch.

There were still 43 minutes to play, but the U's never recovered from this blow. Williams introduced substitutes Gillespie and David Perkins in a bid to reverse the trend, but it was Crewe's change - Tom Pope for the ineffective Anthony Elding - which had the desired effect.

Pope had been on the pitch for just two minutes when he headed home a cross from Billy Jones, following a short corner routine. The ball had crossed the line before Phil Ifil managed to hook it away.

Two-down after 68 minutes, the U's did have one quick chance to reduce the arrears when Kem Izzet burst through on goal. But Izzet's shot was ensnared by Collis, and Crewe were never seriously troubled again.

Gillespie's late red card merely added to the pain.

Squads

CREWE: Collis 7, Woodards 6, O'Donnell 7, Baudet 7, Jones 7, Moore 7, Bailey 6, O'Connor 8, GRANT 8 (sub Carrington, 77), Elding 6 (sub Pope, 66), Zola 7. Unused subs: Miller, Donaldson, Abbey.

COLCHESTER UNITED: Gerken 5, White 6 (sub Perkins, 66), Reid 7, Heath 6, IFIL 7, Yeates 6, Izzet 6, Jackson 5, Wordsworth 7, Platt 5, Vernon 6 (sub Gillespie, 60). Unused subs: Coyne, Hammond, Cousins.

Referee: Mr Iain Williamson (Berkshire) 4

Attendance: 3,510

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