FULL MATCH REPORT AND PLAYER RATINGS - Colchester United 2 Fleetwood Town 1
- Credit: Archant
Gavin Massey’s double gives the U’s their first home win of the season, moving them out of the Sky Bet League One relegation zone.
Gavin Massey’s first goals of the season saw Colchester United come from behind to beat Fleetwood Town 2-1 on Saturday, and in doing so, record their first home win of the season, moving them out of the League One relegation zone.
The flamboyant forward, who was playing in his preferred wide right role after a recent spell in the centre of midfield, scored a simply superb brace, with one goal in each half, to ensure the U’s celebrated a massive three points at the Weston Homes Community Stadium, moving them up to 16th in the table.
The U’s have undoubtedly performed much better in previous games this season, but it is results, not performances, that are the necessity for Tony Humes’ men.
That said, this was still a fine team performance from the U’s, full of character, and determination.
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Every single U’s player played their part in a win which was made even more impressive after they had to come from behind following Fleetwood debutant Liam McAlinden’s 18th-minute lob that gave the traveling Cod Army the lead.
The U’s were actually the better side up to that point, but the goal put the visitors on the front foot, so it came as a bit of a surprise when Colchester drew level in the 40th minute as, out of nowhere, Freddie Sears received the ball deep on the left-hand side before precisely clipping over a cross that Massey showed abundances of class and creation in to neatly volley home first-time.
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And boosted by that confidence, and sensing that elusive win, magnificent Massey curled in a wonderful winner from the edge of the box after a passing move in the 76th minute.
Tension crept into proceedings in the final moments as Sam Walker twice saved brilliantly to hold onto a precious three points that tasted sweet for the U’s.
Strange, that’s a word you could use to describe Saturday’s encounter.
Colchester were excellent for the opening 15 minutes, before falling victim to their old, but recent demons as Fleetwood capitalised on what can only be described as a disastrous goal to concede from the U’s point of view.
The visitors were well on top for the majority of the half without really penetrating the Colchester defence, before a bit of magic from Sears and Watt sent the U’s into the interval level-pegging.
Fleetwood continued to come out fighting in the second period, asking more of the questions, although relatively tame, before another goal out of nowhere from man-of-the-moment Massey saw Colchester lead and take command for a spell, only for the visitors to rally right at the death again with Walker having to be at his best to hold onto the points.
If you looked at the stats before this game, you probably wouldn’t have got too excited. The U’s sat fourth from bottom and had yet to win in front of their own fans, while formerly free-flowing Fleetwood had won just once in their last eight games, and lost their three previous away games by one goal to nil.
And although tense and gritty at times, this certainly had plenty of entertainment.
Colchester probed forward in the early stages with David Fox, a calming influence in the middle of midfield on his ‘second’ debut for the U’s, a whisker away from finding the net on the edge of the area in the 10th minute following a quickly-taken short corner kick.
In fact, this corner kick was just one of four that the U’s forced in a flurried four-minute period as they started with intensity.
Intensity that they couldn’t keep up and intensity that unfortunately capitulated as Fleetwood’s opening goal testifies. After neat approach play, Massey was caught napping on the ball in the opponents box, and just seconds later following one long 70-yard ball, the travelling Cod Army were celebrating as on-loan Wolves striker McAlinden had nipped in between young centre-half Frankie Kent and Walker to lob home.
Questions are probably still aplenty as to who is taking responsibility for the goal - the ball did travel an awfully long way before bouncing, while Walker’s rash decision to race off his line undoubtedly eased McAlinden’s decision to easily and calmly lift the ball over the top of him.
Had the keeper have stayed on his line, recovering Kent, whose recent performances saw him keep the returning Magnus Okuonghae on the subs bench on Saturday, would’ve been well positioned to force the striker to turn and re-think his options with Elliott Hewitt and Tom Eastman also backtracking.
Fleetwood were now well in control, and in the 34th minute, lightning almost struck twice as, after the U’s conceded possession high up the pitch, Fleetwood broke and Jamie Proctor flashed an effort just wide that left a confident Walker rooted.
Fleetwood continued to frustrate the hosts, who after a lively start had faded, until, probably growing frustrated himself at not getting much of the ball, Sears went in search of the ball on the left-hand side before producing an inch-perfect cross that didn’t seem to be on with onrushing Massey who vollied home first-time, surprising visiting keeper Chris Maxwell as it flew past him into the corner of the net.
The U’s were off the mark and many must have thought that they’d use their new-found impetus in the second half. And although, Humes’ men eventually did, it wasn’t without a scare, as after just two minutes played of the second half Fleetwood ought to have been back in front as Proctor somehow headed a corner over from four yards, following lapse U’s marking.
It was a big chance wasted, and Colchester themselves also wasted a big chance just three minutes later as, following an exquisite lifted through ball from the impressive and rampaging on-loan Ipswich Town full-back Hewitt, making his League debut for the U’s, Sears could only fire at the legs of Maxwell.
With a stalemate pending, Humes brought on youngster Drey Wright, whose arrival and input was a welcoming one as both sides edged slowly and silently towards the killer goal. Then, just as U’s on-loan striker Rhys Healey, who was perhaps unlucky to be relegated to the bench, was preparing to enter the fray, Massey provided the ultimate ‘checkmate’ move in the 76th minute when, after a pass from Sean Clohessy, he beautifully found the top corner of the net with a rasping shot that left Maxwell with absolutely no chance.
A goal worthy of winning any game, that proved to be the case for Colchester despite a nail-biting last few minutes which saw Walker save brilliantly from Steven Schumacher and substitute Stephen Dobbie.
U’s manager Tony Humes was left both delighted and relieved at the final whistle as his side finally ended their wait for a victory in front of their own fans on Saturday.
“It’s brilliant,” admitted the U’s boss. “It’s something we needed, I think we got a bit panicky at the end but we hung on.
“It was a tough game so to come out with a win, playing against a good team, we’re obviously delighted.”
Of match-winner Massey, Humes added: “It’s brilliant for him because I think Gav’s played really well over the last seven or eight games.
“He’s had a lot of opportunities in areas without having clear-cut chances, but for him to score two goals today is great for his confidence and to take forward.”
As already stated, this was a bit of a strange game.
In truth, neither side really stamped their authority as the game swayed back and forth.
That said, if this happens every game, and Colchester end up getting the right result, I’m sure they’ll take it. It’s all about results, not performances.
Not that Colchester played badly at all in this game, my point is that they’ve played much, much better this season and got nothing to show for their efforts.
Massey’s goals were ultimately the difference and were ones of pure class, a joy to watch.
COLU PLAYER RATINGS
1 Sam Walker - Must take brunt of responsibility for goal but made two vital saves...6
39 Elliott Hewitt - Super game from Town man. Defended well, and rampaged forward...8
26 Frankie Kent - Youngster was hot and cold...6
18 Tom Eastman - Impressive display at the back, swept up superbly...7
20 Sean Clohessy - Another solid performance from the skipper, assist too...7
8 Alex Gilbey - Quiet game by his high standards...6
24 George Moncur - He was everywhere for the U’s, didn’t stop running...7
38 David Fox - A class act in the centre of midfield with deft touches and passing...7
21 Gavin Massey - Two goals and man-of-the-match...9
7 Sanchez Watt - Started brightly, but faded...6
11 Freddie Sears - Striker was a nuisance throughout and provided an excellent assist...7
12 Chris Lewington........(not used)
4 Magnus Okuonghae.......(not used)
6 Craig Eastmond.........(not used)
17 Drey Wright......7 (for Watt, 68)
19 Rhys Healey......(not used)
27 Macauley Bonne ......... (not used)
28 Sammie Szmodics......(Moncur)
28 Chris Maxwell Surprised by the first goal, no chance for the second...6
33 Stephen Crainey Experienced defender reliable as ever...7
5 Mark Roberts No-nonsense centre-half was at his commanding best...7
25 Stephen Jordan Given a torrid afternoon all afternoon by U’s pace...5
3 Danny Andrew Solid enough...6
7 Gareth Evans Wideman who drifted in was dangerous...7
18 Antoni Sarcevic Tenacious performance, always wanted the ball...7
8 Steven Schumacher Put the ball in dangerous areas...7
12 Josh Morris Quick and lively, but often flattered to deceive...6
20 Liam McAlinden Looks a goalscorer...7
19 Jamie Proctor Frontman will have better days...6
1 Scott Davies ....... (not used)
4 Stewart Murdoch.....(not used)
6 Nathan Pond......(not used)
9 Stephen Dobbie....(for Sarcevic, 77)
17 Matty Blair......(not used)
23 David Ball......(for Proctor, 62)
27 Nick Haughton......(for Evans, 83)