Monakana scores on U’s debut in thrilling draw
Bradford City 2 Colchester United 2
Colchester United scored more than one goal for the first time this season, in a thrilling 2-2 draw at high-flying Bradford City this afternoon.
An early goal from Nahki Wells was snuffed out by two goals in a four-minute spell from debutant Jeffrey Monakana and Jabo Ibehre.
But Wells headed home a 52nd minute equaliser to record his eighth goal of the season, and so grab a point for Phil Parkinson’s Bantams.
Wells had broken the deadlock in the 14th minute with a deadly finish.
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The in-form Bantams front-runner benefited from hesitancy in the U’s defence, before turning Tom Eastman and hooking past Sam Walker from 10 yards out.
The U’s came storming back, and transformed a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead around the half-hour mark.
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First Monakana crashed home a cracking equaliser in the 28th minute.
Craig Eastmond did well to control Walker’s long clearance and slide into the path of Monakana, who teased his marker with a few twists and turns before beating keeper Jon McLaughlin with a lethal shot into the far corner of the net.
Four minutes later and Ibehre charged clear of the home defence to steer his shot beyond the onrushing McLaughlin, to chalk up his third goal of the season.
Back came Bradford and Wells headed home an inch-perfect equaliser in the 52nd minute. Walker could only watch as Wells’ deft header sailed over his head and dropped into the top corner of the net.
In the end, a draw was a fair result in what was an excellent game.
Manager Joe Dunne handed U’s debuts to left-back Luke Garbutt, signed on loan from Everton yesterday, and winger Monakana, signed on loan from Preston on Thursday morning.
Ryan Dickson (ill), Sanchez Watt (quad injury) and Josh Thompson (swollen ankle) all missed out, while Freddie Sears and Gavin Massey were only named as substitutes because of recent niggling injuries.
It was one-way traffic in the early stages, with Bradford dominating, and Magnus Okuonghae, back in the U’s side after suspension, did well to clear away Garry Thompson’s second minute cross.
The visitors soaked up the early pressure and Craig Eastmond released Drey Wright down the left-edge of the penalty area on eight minutes. Wright cut inside his marker before hooking in a low shot that was deflected wide for a corner.
From the ensuing corner, Tom Eastman volleyed wide from debutant Garbutt’s delivery to the near post.
However, it was Bradford who took the lead, with Wells sweeping home his eighth goal of the season on 14 minutes.
The U’s should have equalised within 60 seconds, but Ibehre lashed his shot over the bar from point blank range.
U’s new boy Garbutt was booked in the 18th minute, for chopping down winger Garry Thompson, and from Stephen Darby’s free-kick, striker James Hanson headed straight at Sam Walker.
It was looking quite comfortable for Bradford, but all that changed when Monakana crowned his debut with a quality equaliser just before the half-hour mark.
Keeper McLaughlin then spilled a rasping shot from Drey Wright, before scooping up at the second attempt.
But McLaughlin was powerless to prevent the U’s from taking a shock 2-1 lead in the 32nd minute. He was convincingly beaten by Ibehre, on a one-on-one situation.
Those two goals, inside four minutes, knocked the stuffing out of the Bantams for the rest of the first period, and Brian Wilson spurned a chance to extend the U’s lead when curling a 20-yard free-kick over the bar on 41 minutes.
However, the Bantams began the second half on the front foot and danger-man Wells duly equalised with a pinpoint header in the 52nd minute, for his second goal of the game.
At the other end, Ibehre burst clear to try and restore the U’s lead, but his angled shot was plucked out of the air by McLaughlin.
Otherwise, the hosts dictated and Nathan Doyle should really have done better when scooping a free shot over the bar from Kyel Reid’s lay-off in the 74th minute.
The U’s had not given up hope of a late winner themselves. In fact, substitute Gavin Massey was just a whisker away from a goal on 79 minutes, his curling 20-yarder ricocheting back off the far post.
It was an exciting finale.
Walker tipped Mark Yeates’ 89th minute shot over his bar, and U’s substitute Daniel Pappoe was then sent off on his senior debut for a late challenge on Yeates.
Chelsea loanee Pappoe had only been on the pitch for four minutes, but at least the 10-man U’s held on for a point.
BRADFORD CITY: McLaughlin, Darby, Davies, McArdle, Meredith, Reid (sub Yeates, 80), Thompson (sub De Vita, 75), Jones, Doyle (sub Ravenhill, 83), Hanson, Wells. Unused subs: Ripley, Oliver, Gray, Connell.
COLCHESTER UNITED: Walker, Wilson, Okuonghae, Eastman, Garbutt, David Wright, Eastmond, Monakana (sub Sears, 74), Gilbey (sub Pappoe, 86), Drey Wright (sub Massey, 69), Ibehre. Subs: Cousins, Morrison, Bean, Olufemi.
Referee: Tony Harrington (Cleveland)
Attendance: 13,570 (189 away fans)