Heart-break for Colchester United
- Credit: Archant
Colchester United 1 Sheffield United 2
Colchester United suffered injury-time heart-break as the visiting Blades stole victory via David Edgar’s 92nd minute winner.
The U’s produced a stirring second-half performance which looked to have secured them a home draw against play-off chasing Sheffield United, at the Weston Homes Community Stadium this afternoon.
Tom Eastman headed home a deserved equaliser in the 59th minute, to respond to Billy Sharp’s opening goal.
But the Yorkshire visitors grabbed all three points, at the death, when Edgar squeezed home from a short-corner routine.
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The U’s have now won just one of their last 16 league games, and taken only five points from a possible 48 during that period.
But there is no doubt that the U’s have improved, under new manager Kevin Keen, sine he was appointed four day before Christmas.
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Sharp broke the deadlock on 20 minutes, capitalising on a bad mistake by Matt Briggs inside his own penalty area.
Blades’ keeper, George Long, launched a huge kick upfield and Briggs mis-controlled, allowing Sharp to nip in and snatch possession.
Alex Wynter tried to shut down Sharp, outside the six-yard box, but the livewire striker was able to slot home through the defender’s legs and past Jake Kean into an unguarded net.
The U’s equalised, just before the hour mark, with Eastman heading home Marvin Sordell’s exquisite cross.
It was Eastman’s second goal of the season, and his first at home following his goal in the 4-2 defeat at Shrewsbury last October.
However, Basham then pounced with a late winner for the Blades.
U’s boss Keen named an unchanged side following last weekend’s terrific 2-1 win over Charlton, in the third round of the FA Cup.
It was a quiet opening, from both sides, with the Blades dominating possession, although it was the U’s who created the first chance with Gavin Massey blasting over the top from the edge of the box on 10 minutes, after defender David Edgar had gifted the ball to George Moncur.
The visitors registered the first shot on goal, after 12 minutes, although Jake Kean, on his U’s league debut, was not seriously tested by Matt Done’s low shot, which was only half-hit.
Three minutes later and Owen Garvan set up an attacking move, with a neat dribble through the middle. Moncur helped the ball on to Sordell, who turned to lash in a 20-yarder which flew only a couple of feet wide of the far post.
However, it was the Sheffield visitors who took the lead, via Sharp’s smart finish in the 20th minute.
The hosts tried to respond quickly, but without testing keeper Long, while at the other end striker Done rifled an angled shot across goal and wide in the 32nd minute.
In fact, Long did not have a save to make, during the whole of the first half, despite the U’s not playing too badly – they were just closed down at every opportunity, but the hungry Blades.
Winger Martyn Woolford had a shot charged down, on 42 minutes, but the Blades were happy to be 1-0 up at the break.
The U’s stepped up a gear, at the start of the second period, and a 47th minute cross by Sordell flashed along the face of goal and wide, with no team-mate on hand to apply the finishing touch.
Long was finally called into his first save, in the 55th minute, when the Blades’ custodian dived to his right to palm away Alex Gilbey’s well-struck 20 yarder.
Former Blades striker, Chris Porter, was then close to getting on the end of a dangerous cross by Sordell, who was operating as a left winger, as the U’s enjoyed a purple patch before the hour mark.
And the U’s duly equalised, in the 59th minute, with Eastman nodding home Sordell’s pinpoint cross.
It was a deserved equaliser, and a minute later Sordell crashed in a 25-yard shot which was well smothered by keeper Long.
The Blades were forced to defend in numbers, Sharp did almost break free at the other end, but Wynter intervened with an important touch to avert the danger in the 75th minute.
Moncur went close in the 82nd minute. The midfielder connected with a goal-bound shot from Sordell’s cross, but the ball was blocked by keeper Long with his legs.
Two minutes later and Long had to react quickly again to smother a long-range shot by Moncur.
But centre-half Edgar pounced at the death with an injuyr-time winner for the Blades.
COLCHESTER: Kean, Brindley (sub Bonne, 90+2), Wynter, Eastman, Briggs, Massey (sub Ambrose, 85), Garvan, Gilbey, Moncur, Sordell, Porter. Unused subs: Parish, Edwards, Wright, Kent, Vincent-Young.
SHEFFIELD UNITED: Long, Brayford, Collins, Edgar, McEveley, Coutts (sub Flynn, 70), Hammond, Basham, Woolford, Done (sub Baxter, 64), Sharp (sub Sammon, 90+3). Unused subs: Howard, Reed, Campbell-Ryce, Adams.
Referee: Brandan Malone (Wiltshire)
Attendance: 4,322 (889 away fans)