George Elokobi’s wonder strike propels Colchester United into the play-off zone
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Colchester United 1 Wycombe Wanderers 0
A sensational long-range strike from George Elokobi propelled Colchester United into the League Two play-off zone, at the expense of Wycombe Wanderers tonight.
Centre-half Elokobi’s 13th minute cracker saw the U’s rise four places into seventh spot, the perfect response to recent back-to-back defeats at the hands of Crawley and Accrington Stanley.
Elokobi let fly from 25 yards out with a wonderful shot that soared over stranded keeper Jamal Blackman before dipping into the roof of the net.
It was Elokobi’s first Colchester goal of the season, although he did score a couple while on loan at Braintree Town, in their 7-0 demolition of Eastbourne in the FA Cup.
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The Cameroon-born defender did score a couple of goals for the U’s last season, his last one in the 2-1 home win over Port Vale in September, 2015.
But he will surely have never scored a better goal, throughout his career, certainly from that sort of distance.
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Wycombe would have gone seventh themselves, with a win, but instead the Chairboys have now lost eight of their last nine fixtures, in all competitions.
And the visitors ended the match with 10 men, left-back Joe Jacobson sent off for two bookable offences, the second of them a crude challenge on substitute Tarique Fosu in the 87th minute.
The U’s made four changes to the side that lost 2-1 at struggling Accrington on Saturday, with 19-year-old Cameron James handed his full debut in the heart of defence. James had previously made three appearances from the bench.
There was also a home debut for recent signing Sean Murray, who had been sent off in his first appearance for the U’s at Blackpool at the start of the month.
The U’s started brightly, with Brennan Dickenson twice getting the better of right-back Michael Harriman inside the first few minutes. The U’s left winger was soon homing in on goal, and was unlucky to see his shot roll agonisingly wide of the far post on five minutes.
However, the U’s did not have to wait long to take the lead, thanks to Elokobi’s stupendous strike from 25 yards out.
Ahead on 13 minutes, it was very nearly 2-0 just three minutes later as Richard Brindley, well advanced from his right-back role, crashed in a cross-cum-shot that whistled across the face of goal and narrowly wide.
Midway through the first half and Sam Walker was called into action for the first time, arching back to divert a header from Paris Cowan-Hall over his bar.
On the half-hour mark, Walker was relieved to see a ferocious angled drive from Watford loanee Alex Jakubiak fly wide of his far upright, as Wycombe began to mount some pressure on the U’s back-line.
Burly striker Ade Akinfenwa squandered a chance to grab an equaliser, in the 43rd minute, but he failed to hit the target from a tight angle, much to the delight of the U’s fans behind the goal.
The much-travelled Akinfenwa threatened again, just two minutes into the second half. This time his downward header, from Sam Saunders’ teasing cross, was smothered by Walker on his goal-line.
Goalscorer Elokobi then saved the day on 55 minutes, with a goal-line clearance. Brindley’s attempted clearance struck Cowan-Hall and broke kindly for the Wycombe front-runner. He managed to toe-poke the ball beyond Walker, but Elokobi back-tracked to hoof to safety.
In a rare U’s attack, Owen Garvan had a 20-yarder charged down inside a congested penalty area on 63 minutes, while keeper Blackman denied Guthrie with a superb reaction save just three minutes later.
In the 82nd minute, Guthrie’s goal-bound header was cleared off the goal-line by defender Joe Jacobson.
But Jacobson was sent off five minutes later, to complete a miserable evening for the visitors.
COLCHESTER: Walker, Brindley, James, Elokobi, Briggs, Lapslie, Garvan, Murray (sub Fosu, 78), Dickenson, Guthrie, Porter (sub Wright, 73). Unused subs: Barnes, Vincent-Young, Wynter, Pyke, Edge.
WYCOMBE: Blackman, Harriman, Stewart, De Havilland (sub Muller, 46), Jacobson, Saunders, O’Nien, Bean (sub Wood, 84), Cowan-Hall, Akinfenwa, Jakubiak (sub Thompson, 61). Unused subs: Richardson, Jombati, Bloomfield, Gape.
Referee: Trevor Kettle (Rutland)
Attendance: 3,031 (275 away fans)