Kevin Keen watches on as Colchester United slump to a seventh straight league loss

Kevin Keen, who was watching today's game at Rochdale with U's chairman, Robbie Cowling

Kevin Keen, who was watching today's game at Rochdale with U's chairman, Robbie Cowling - Credit: Archant

Rochdale 3 Colchester United 1

Colchester United’s new manager-in-waiting, Kevin Keen, watched his future charges slump to their seventh league defeat on the trot, at Rochdale this afternoon.

The U’s relegation fears deepened with another poor defensive showing, against a Dale side who had lost five of their previous seven games.

To make matters worse for the visitors, striker Marvin Sordell was also stretchered off with what looked like a serious knee injury, midway through the second period. The U’s were already 3-1 down at that stage.

Former West Ham midfielder Keen, who was the assistant manager to Steve Clarke at Reading, until the two were dismissed earlier this month, watched this afternoon’s game alongside U’s owner and chairman, Robbie Cowling.

Keen, aged 48, is expected to be officially appointed U’s manager early next week, as a successor to previous boss Tony Humes, who stood down on November 26.

Wayne Brown was in charge as caretaker manager, for his third and final match.

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And it was the U’s who took the lead, thanks to Chris Porter’s second goal in two games, following his strike in the previous weekend’s 3-2 home defeat to Barnsley.

Porter released George Moncur, and although the former West Ham man was denied a 10th goal of the season, by a fine save from Joel Castro Pereira, skipper Porter was backing up to ram home the rebound in style from 15 yards out.

Porter’s opener arrived in the 21st minute, but within 13 minutes the U’s were trailing 2-1.

On the half-hour mark, Matt Briggs was adjudged to have hauled down Peter Vincenti in the box, following a corner routine, although there was a small delay before referee Trevor Kettle pointed to the spot. He had perhaps been advised by his assistant referee.

U’s old boy Ian Henderson converted the ensuing penalty, checking his run-up before beating Jamie Jones with a rising shot.

Rochdale took the lead in the 34th minute. Donal McDermott charged onto Matty Lund’s intelligent flick to beat Jones with a calm finish.

That was the 62nd goal conceded by the U’s leaky defence, in just 25 league and cup games this season.

And No. 63 was not long in coming, with centre-half Oliver Lancashire nodding home a free-kick from point blank range in the 63rd minute, to put Dale 3-1 up.

Porter spurned a good chance to score his and the U’s second, in the 74th minute, when dragging his shot wide with just keeper Castro Pereira to beat.

That would have set up an intriguing finish, but instead Dale coasted to victory.

Squads

ROCHDALE: Castro Pereira, Cannon, McNulty, Lancashire, Rose, Lund, Camps, McDermott, Vicenti, Andrew, Henderson. Unused subs: Lillis, Bennett, Eastham, Barry-Murphy, Kennedy, Hooper, Bunney.

COLCHESTER: Jones, Brindley, Eastman, Elokobi, Briggs, Edwards (sub Sordell, 64, sub Bonne, 72), Gilbey, Moncur, Massey (sub Sembie-Ferris, 64), Porter, Harriott. Unused subs: Parish, Kent, Lapslie, Vincent-Young.

Referee: Trevor Kettle (Rutland)

Attendance: 2,205

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