Below-par U’s are nailed by the Cobblers
PUBLISHED: 16:57 25 August 2018 | UPDATED: 18:16 25 August 2018
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Colchester United 1 Northampton Town 2
Colchester United suffered their first league defeat of the season, beaten at home by previously win-less Northampton Town this afternoon.
Matt Crooks broke the deadlock, in the 48th minute, and it was no more than the Cobblers deserved against a lack-lustre U’s, who never really got going until the final 20 minutes.
And substitute Billy Waters doubled the lead in the first minute of stoppage time to seal the away win.
Early in the second half and Crooks was allowed to power through the centre of the park unchallenged before arrowing a long-range shot past Dillon Barnes and into the bottom corner of the net, right in front of the travelling fans behind that goal.
The closest the U’s got to an equaliser was when substitute Luke Norris, within 60 seconds of coming on, saw his thumping header cannon back off the bar on 79 minutes.
Waters then prodded home from point-blank range to effectively end the U’s challenge, as the game entered injury-time, although the hosts did halve the deficit just before the final whistle when Sammie Szmodics’s effort was saved, the ball going in off defender Aaron Pierre for an own goal .
U’s boss McGreal named an unchanged side for the fourth successive league match, Brennan Dickenson recovering from a knock suffered during Tuesday night’s 6-0 home win over Crewe.
The Cobblers almost caught the U’s napping, inside the first few seconds, when they capitalised on some slack defending before their leading scorer, Kevin Van Veen, rifled a 20-yarder narrowly over the bar.
That set the trend for the first half, with the hosts really struggling to even get out of first gear.
Impressive midfielder, Crooks, teed up Jack Bridge on 10 minutes, and his goalbound shot warmed the hands of Barnes, who scooped up at the second attempt.
The U’s did not threaten until the 12th minute, when Dickenson scuffed his volley well wide of target.
Sam Hoskins was in the action three minutes later, making room for himself in the U’s penalty area by deceiving Kane Vincent-Young. His final shot flashed across goal and wide of the far post.
The U’s only mustered one effort on target throughout the first period, and that effort from Szmodics, on 17 minutes, did not seriously trouble keeper David Cornell.
The best chance of the first half fell to Cobblers left winger San Foley, who was all on his own when latching onto a cross by Bridge. But he scooped his shot high and wide with just Barnes to beat.
Barnes smothered a a shot on the turn by Crooks on 35 minutes, as the U’s continued to be second best up until half-time.
Less then three minutes into the second half and the visitors did finally get their goal, Crooks ramming home from 25 yards out to put them 1-0 up.
And Crooks was close to scoring his second goal on 57 minutes. Again he was given far too much space, this time on the fringe of the penalty area, before unleashing a stinging drive which Barnes dived to his left to push to safety.
At the other end, the U’s nearly grabbed an equaliser through Harry Pell in the 67th minute. His goalbound header was superbly diverted wide by keeper Cornell.
Pell was in the spotlight again in the 77th minute, watching as his 20-yard free-kick curled agonisingly wide of the post and brushed the side-netting.
Only the woodwork denied the U’s an equaliser in the 79th minute header. Substitute Norris, who had only been on the pitch for 60 minutes, rattled the bar with a thumping header.
At the other end, fellow substitute Tom Eastman did well to clear Van Veen’s shot off the goal-line, but Waters was not to be denied in stoppage time.
The U’s netted a consolation in the fourth minute of injury-time.
COLCHESTER: Barnes, Jackson, Prosser, Kent, Vincent-Young (sub Eastman, 63), Lapslie, Pell, Senior (sub Mandron, 63), Szomdics, Dickenson, Nouble (sub Norris, 78). Unused subs: Ross, Comley, Wright, Collins.
NORTHAMPTON: Cornell, Facey, Pierre, Taylor, Buchanan, Crooks, Hoskins, Bridge (sub Waters, 72), Foley, Morais (sub Williams, 72), Van Veen (sub O’Toole, 82). Unused subs: Ward, Odoffin, Barnett, Bowditch.
Referee: A Young
Attendance: 3,791 (480 away fans)