GALLERY & MATCH REPORT: Super Freddie Sears bags a brace as Colchester United record a precious win at Stevenage
- Credit: Archant
Stevenage 2 Colchester United 3
Freddie Sears bagged a brace as Colchester United recorded a precious win at basement dwellers Stevenage this afternoon, to ease their own relegation fears.
It was the U’s first win in six games, and for once they did it the hard way by rallying from a goal-down.
In the end, the hosts were unable to handle both Sears and Jabo Ibehre, who terrorised the home defence with superb individual performances.
Ironically, Stevenage had looked the better team for much of the first half, and they took an 11th minute lead when Michael Doughty burst past David Wright to plant a low shot beyond the onrushing Sam Walker.
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But Sears grabbed the equaliser with the U’s first effort on target, in first-half stoppage time.
Ibehre caused a nuisance of himself from Gavin Massey’s cross, and Sears stuck out of a boot to send an instinctive volley flying into the roof of the net, past keeper Chris Day.
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And it was fellow striker Ibehre’s turn to celebrate a goal, inside four minutes of the second half, to hand the U’s a 2-1 lead.
Keeper Day ventured to the edge of his six-yard box, to try and clear Sears’ corner, but he failed to get there and the ball ricocheted off the post.
However, Ibehre was the quickest to react, prodding home the loose ball from just a couple of yards out.
And Sears made the game safe by ramming home his second and the U’s third in the 73rd minute. Ibehre set him up, but Sears still had much to do, squeezing his shot past the covering defender and also keeper Day from the edge of the box.
There was no way back for Stevenage, although Luke Freeman did pull a goal back in the 89th minute with a 20-yard free-kick.
Stevenage substitute Filipe Morais was sent off in stoppage time to complete their misery.
The U’s were missing both full-backs. Skipper Brian Wilson was sidelined through illless, while left-back Ryan Dickson was out injured.
David Wright reverted to right-back to replace Wilson, while Crystal Palace loanee Alex Wynter made his full League debut at left-back, having appeared as a substitute in the 2-1 home defeat by Tranmere last Saturday.
Sanchez Watt was also fit again, so he was preferred to Dominic Vose on the left flank.
It was a cagey opening from both sides. Sears, playing in the advanced striker’s role with Ibehre behind him, did whip over an eighth minute cross which was just too high for Massey, who was lurking at the far post.
But it was Stevenage who drew first blood.
Francois Zoko won a 50-50 ball against Marcus Bean in midfield, and left winger Doughty was able to skip past David Wright before beating the advancing Sam Walker with a cool finish into the middle of the net, from 12 yards out.
So for the sixth game running, the U’s had conceded the first goal, and it was Stevange who continued to dictate.
Jimmy Smith, the home captain, shrugged off the challenge of Sears on the edge of the U’s box on 20 minutes, but his through ball was just too strong as the ball rolled through to Walker.
The U’s rallied before the half-hour mark, and both Ibehre and Sears had goal-bound shots blocked, inside the penalty area, by alert defenders.
At the other end, Doughty and Luke Freeman linked up well down the left flank, and the latter’s teasing cross was met by striker Zoko, whose overhead kick whistled a foot over the bar.
Goalscorer Doughty nearly grabbed his second goal of the match in the 38th minute. Freeman again enjoyed acres of space down the left wing, sliding the ball through for Doughty, who fired goalwards with a shot that was charged down at point blank range by Magnus Okuonghae.
But the visitors were on level terms, on the stroke of half-time, thanks to Sears’ superb volley, which flew past keeper Day’s left hand into the roof of the net. The goal arrived in the third minute of injury-time.
Ibehre then prodded the U’s into a 2-1 lead, from Sears’ 49th minute corner, right in front of the noses of the delighted visiting fans.
That prompted a spell of intense U’s pressure, and Sears was within a whisker of making it 3-1 when he beat Day to a forward pass. The home keeper was out of his penalty area and hopelessly out of position, but the ball would not fall kindly for Sears, and the chance was gone.
On 57 minutes, Sears tested Day with a fierce angled drive which the Borough keeper managed to smother down at his near post.
Stevenage were now hanging on. Sears scurried into the penalty area on the hour mark and found Watt, but he was tackled when on the point of shooting, on the edge of the six-yard box.
Livewire Sears was in the thick of the action again in the 63rd minute. The ex-West Ham attacker controlled Gavin Massey’s low cross and fired in a shot which was superbly blocked by the onrushing Day.
But Sears was not to be denied, and he sealed the three points by crashing home the U’s third with 17 minutes remaining, even though Freeman pulled a goal back with an 89th minute free-kick.
STEVENAGE: Day, Obeng, Dembele, Flanagan, Freeman, Doughty (sub Heslop, 74), Henderson (sub Morais, 59), Smith, Mousinho, Akins (sub Burrow, 69), Zoko. Unused subs: Goodliffe, Ashton, N’Guessan, Hartley
COLCHESTER UNITED: Walker, David Wright (sub Olufemi, 46), Okuonghae, Eastman, Wynter, Bean, Gilbey, Massey (sub Vose, 85), Sears (sub Morrison, 85), Watt, Ibehre. Unused subs: Cousins, Drey Wright, Szmodics, Kent.
Referee: Mark Heywood (Cheshire)