Gillespie gets last minute winner
npower League One Colchester Utd 2 Swindon Town 1
FANS favourite Steven Gillespie came off the bench to score a stoppage time winner for Colchester United and heap further misery on Swindon Town.
The U’s took the lead through David Mooney’s seventh minute penalty, but after a first half lacking in quality Swindon fought back to equalise through Scott Cuthbert’s 51st minute header.
Only some good saves from keeper Mark Cousins kept the scores level after that, the referee also waving away two Swindon penalty appeals.
Colchester boss John Ward made three substitutions as the game progressed and they eventually paid dividends when Gillespie was able to find an empty net from the edge of the box after keeper David Lucas had punched away a corner.
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The Robins – who remain in the relegation zone and have now gone nine games without a win – were denied an opener in the second minute when Cousins tipped a dipping long-range effort from Elliot Benyon onto the bar.
The U’s took the lead five minutes later when Mooney cooly tucked away his 11th goal of the season from the spot, The penalty was awarded after the ball hit defender Andy Frampton’s arm in the box as Ashley Vincent tried to burst through on goal.
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The first half was generally short on quality with the out-of-form visitors looking shaky at the back and the hosts giving away too many soft free-kicks.
Mooney came close to doubling Colchester’s lead in the 20th minute but his fierce close range volley hit keeper Lucas square in the face after Matt Heath had flicked on a long throw from Vincent.
The closest Swindon come to scoring was via a Colchester player, Cousins collecting at the second time of asking after a cross from Jon-Paul McGovern came off the back of Vincent’s head.
The visitors came out on the attack immediately after the break and were denied an equaliser when Cousins dived low to his right to keep out a low 20 yard effort from Jonathan Obika.
The Robins continued to push forward though and deservedly got their goal in the 51st minute following a comedy of errors. First Matt Heath misjudged a long ball forward before Pat Baldwin tapped the ball back to Cousins who, unsure whether to pick up or not, delayed before conceding a corner. The resultant flag kick was not fully cleared and Cuthbert eventually headed into an unguarded goal after Cousins had stopped Baldwin turning a scuffed shot into his own net.
Swindon could – and perhaps should – have taken the lead in their very next attack as Cuthbert headed wide from an unmarked position.
The Wiltshire side then felt they should have twice been awarded penalties for handball as the ball struck Andy Bond and Lee Beevers in the box.
With Colchester repeatedly failing to get the ball to stick in the final third, Mooney looking isolated as support man Andy Bond dropped deeper and deeper into midfield, manager Ward began to make changes.
First Kayode Odejayi came on for Kemi Izzet, before Gillespie and Lloyd James replaced Vincent and David Perkins.
Colchester pushed hard for a winner in the closing stages but it looked like it wouldn’t come as first Beevers headed over from a good position and then Anthony Wordsworth fired straight at the keeper from close range following an excellent move.
However, just as the game entered stoppage-time, a James corner was punched straight to Gillespie on the edge of the box and he side-footed the ball back into the unguarded net for his fourth goal in three successive home games.
COLCHESTER UTD (4-4-1-1): Cousins; Beevers, Baldwin, Heath, Coker; Vincent (Gillespie 72), Izzet (Odejayi 62), Perkins (James 72), Wordsworth; Bond; Mooney.
Unused Subs: Williams, White, Henderson, Vilhjalmsson,
Booked: Wordsworth (55)
SWINDON (4-4-2): Lucas; Caddis, Cuthbert, Frampton, Rose; McGovern, Douglas, Timlin, Ritchie; Benyon, Obika (Dossevi 88).
Unused Subs: Smith, Flint, Amankwah, Sheehan, Ferry, Prutton.
Referee: Mr G Salisbury