Lowe brace sinks under-performing Colchester United
Tranmere Rovers 2 Colchester United 1
Colchester United flattered to deceive as they slithered to defeat at Tranmere Rovers this afternoon, undone by a brace from striker Ryan Lowe.
The U’s had a lot of possession, but generally wasted it, and they also fluffed their lines in front of goal.
Rovers broke the deadlock in the 32nd minute, thanks to Lowe’s close-range header at the far post, after skipper James Wallace had flicked on a corner.
And Lowe was on target again, this time from the penalty spot, to double the lead on 55 minutes.
Brian Wilson was adjudged to have tugged back Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro, while defending a corner, and Lowe sent Sam Walker the wrong way with his precise penalty.
Clinton Morrison did pull a goal back in the 93rd minute, with virtually the last kick of the game, but it was too little too late for the U’s.
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Overall, this was a disappointing display from Joe Dunne’s men, as they head into a fortnight’s break from competitive action.
U’s boss Dunne had named an unchanged side from Tuesday night’s 3-1 win over MK Dons, while new loan signing Ben Tozer, recruited from Northampton, was on the bench.
The U’s other new loan signing, West Ham winger Blair Turgott, will join up with the squad next week.
The visitors settled well and they could have taken the lead inside two minutes. Jabo Ibehre got on the end of Luke Garbutt’s corner, but his toe-poked effort rolled a foot wide of the far post.
Jon Otsemobor, one of two debutants in the Tranmere side, only lasted four minutes. Shoved over the advertising hoarding by Ryan Dickson (no foul), the MK Dons loanee fell awkwardly and so could not continue, with Danny Holmes on as an early replacement.
And fellow defender Ian Goodison fared little better. He pulled up with a recurrence of a groin injury and was eventually substituted by Evan Horwood on 12 minutes.
The injury jinx struck again when U’s defender Eastman and Rovers’ striker Akpa Akpro collided in an aerial battle. Both had to leave the pitch to get stitches inserted into head wounds.
Back to the action, and Ibehre fired wide from long-range following Brian Wilson’s lay-off in the 17th minute.
And Ibehre squandered a far better chance in the 25th minute. Keeper Owain fon Williams could only parry Alex Gilbey’s low drive, but Ibehre ballooned the rebound over the bar from eight yards out.
The U’s were made to pay for these missed chances when Lowe headed Rovers into the lead from close range in the 32nd minute.
Walker had initially made a terrific to save, turning Wallace’s long-range shot around his post, but Lowe nodded home at the far post from the ensuing corner.
Encouraged by this goal, the hosts threatened again on 40 minutes – Walker had to arch back to catch Chris Atkinson’s goal-bound header on his goal-line.
At the other end, Garbutt delivered a dangerous free-kick into the box, where defender Jim McNulty did enough to prevent Magnus Okuonghae from heading home at the far post.
Rovers nearly doubled their lead after just 23 seconds of the second period, but Akpa Akpro pulled his shot wide of target from a good position, after the ball had ricocheted off Eastman.
However, Tranmere did score a second goal in the 55th minute, via a penalty by Lowe after Brian Wilson had tugged back Akpa Akpro inside the box.
The U’s tried to strike back, and both substitute Andy Bond and Craig Eastmond had shots charged down in quick succession.
But Lowe should have been celebrating his hat-trick in the 73rd minute. Liverpool loanee winger Kristoffer Peterson ran uncontested into the box and squared for Lowe, who was standing unmarked in front of goal. But he could only divert the ball straight into Walker’s arms.
Three minutes later and substitute Macauley Bonne spurned the U’s best chance of the afternoon, heading Ryan Dickson’s cross over the bar from point blank range.
Eastmond had a shot deflected wide of target in the 87th minute, from Morrison’s lay-off, and Morrison did eventually score in the last minute of injury time from eight yards out.
But this was certainly an off-day for the U’s.
TRANMERE: fon Williams, Otsemobor (sub Holmes, 4), Goodison (sub Horwood, 12), McNulty, Ridehalgh, Peterson, Atkinson, Wallace (sub Rowe, 90+2), Kirby, Lowe, Akpa Akpro. Unused subs: Mooney, Stockton, Power, Koumas.
COLCHESTER: Walker, Wilson, Okuonghae, Eastman, Garbutt, David Wright (sub Bond, 56), Vose (sub Bonne, 56), Eastmond, Gilbey, Dickson, Ibehre. Unused subs: Cousins, Morrison, Olufemi, O’Donoghue, Tozer.
Referee: Dean Whitestone (Northants)