Wright rescues reserves in U's thriller

DAVID Wright preserved Ipswich Town Reserves' proud record by snatching a last-gasp equaliser at Colchester United in a free-scoring Combination fixture yesterday afternoon.

Carl Marston

DAVID Wright preserved Ipswich Town Reserves' proud record by snatching a last-gasp equaliser at Colchester United in a free-scoring Combination fixture yesterday afternoon.

Wright headed home from point-blank range in the 89th minute, after skipper Tommy Smith had flicked on from a corner.

It capped a very satisfactory afternoon for full-back Wright, who was making a welcome return to competitive action following an ankle injury sustained on the opening day of the season against Preston.

Wright's late intervention denied a youthful Colchester side what would have been a much-prized victory. Title holders Ipswich have still only lost one game in more than two years in the Combination.

The U's raced into a two-goal lead inside the first quarter of the match, thanks to a bullet header from Mitchell Nelson and a slick finish by Sunday-Akanni Wasiu.

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Jordan Rhodes reduced the arrears in the 31st minute, only for the impressive Fabian Batchelor to rifle the U's 3-1 up just before the hour mark.

However, Joe Dunne's side could not hold on, and late goals from Dean Bowditch and Wright ensured a share of the spoils for Town.

Town included recent signing Ivan Campo. He enjoyed a 65-minute run-out in the heart of defence.

Despite their relative inexperience, the U's began brightly and Shane Supple had to cling onto a low drive from Batchelor inside the first couple of minutes.

Town threatened first when Bowditch connected sweetly with a firm header from Danny Haynes' cross that Mark Cousins did well to beat away.

But it was United who took the lead in the 16th minute, thanks to a terrific header by Nelson from Sam Corcoran's precise free-kick.

Five minutes later and the hosts were 2-0 up. Russell Malton squared inside the box and although Wasiu's first shot was blocked, he buried the rebound with a side-footed low drive from 10 yards out.

Town halved the deficit just after the half-hour mark. Cousins managed to parry centre-half Smith's downward header from Haynes' corner, but Rhodes was on hand to ram home the rebound from close-in.

And they should really have been level before the break. Haynes helped on Rhodes' header and skipped past Cousins, but the angle was too tight for him to steer into an empty net.

Town had further chances to equalise, most notably when Bowditch's low delivery rolled across the face of goal and wide, with no team-mate able to apply the finishing touch, before the U's regained their two-goal advantage in the 59th minute.

Batchelor charged onto Alex O'Leary's through ball and fended off a couple of challenges before crashing home a low shot in some style, from the edge of the penalty area.

Pim Balkestein caught the eye at left-back for Town, and the Dutchman was not far adrift with a couple of headers from set pieces. But it was Bowditch who finally reduced the arrears by sweeping home substitute Kurt Robinson's low cross in the 76th minute.

Cousins protected the U's lead by saving bravely at the feet of Rhodes, but he could do little about Wright's late close range header.


COLCHESTER UNITED: Cousins, Nelson, Baldwin, Hammond, Griffiths, Malton (sub Pirie, 81), Corcoran, Perkins (sub McCloskey, 73), O'Leary, Batchelor, Wasiu. Unused subs: Bailey-Dennis, Cusack, Rafter.

IPSWICH TOWN: Supple, Wright, Campo (sub Robinson, 65), Smith, Balkestein, Peters, Norris, Reason, Haynes (sub Watson, 77), Rhodes, Bowditch. Unused subs: Ward, Murphy, Daniels.

Referee: Mr M Bull (Essex)