Murphy returns with a brace as Colchester United go down 3-1 to Coventry
Former Colchester United loanee Jacob Murphy scored twice to give Coventry City all three points this afternoon.
Murphy, on loan at the Sky Blues from Norwich City, enjoyed his return to the Weston Homes Community Stadium, where he spent the back-end of last season, with two well-taken first-half strikes.
After Macauley Bonne gave Colchester an early lead, Murphy, playing as a second striker, showed great initiative to score in the 32nd and 40th minutes.
Strike partner Marc Antoine-Fortune finished the game off with a third in the 49th minute, after Jamie Jones’ mistake, as Colchester’s poor defending cost them dearly again.
The visitors settled into the wet and wintery conditions quicker, and Tom Eastman produced a heroic block to deny Ruben Lameiras a certain goal after just two minutes.
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Three minutes later, some expert hold-up play from Antoine-Fortune presented Jim O’Brien an opportunity, but the left-winger fired his effort into the side netting.
Colchester sucked up the early pressure before taking the lead in the 17th minute through Bonne’s smart finish.
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After a raiding run from right-back Joe Edwards, Callum Harriott delivered an excellent cross which Bonne - who scored four goals against Wealdstone in the FA Cup last weekend - met with a superb run across the static Coventry back-line.
The ball might have only just spun over the goal-line in the increasingly dampening West Homes Community Stadium, but the delight for Bonne, who has found league opportunities hard to come by of late, was clear.
The U’s seized the initiative and almost doubled their lead in the 24th minute through George Moncur, as his 20-yard free-kick almost squirmed out of the grasp of Reice Charles-Cook.
Three minutes later, Harriott - for once - couldn’t find a cross after a delightful break including Moncur and Tom Lapslie.
Colchester were a joy to watch for a spell and were desperately unlucky not to double their lead when Sordell, after picking up a pass from the classy Moncur, delicately rolled off the inside of the post with Charles-Cook well-beaten.
The quick move - which all started from Matthew Briggs’ defensive header and involved Harriott and Lapslie - arguably deserved a goal, but that final piece of luck deserted them.
And after 32 minutes, the U’s were back on level terms as former loanee Murphy instinctively pounced to equalise.
Antoine-Fortune broke the offside trap and crossed - where Eastman brilliantly intercepted - only for Murphy to react the quickest and tuck home clinically.
Both sides then attacked with venom, but it was the visitors who took the lead for the first time in the 40th minute - Coventry and Murphy taking advantage of a dithering U’s back-line as they failed to spot a quick free-kick routine from the Sky Blues.
Despite a hint of offside, Murphy showed great composure to round Jamie Jones and slot into the same bottom corner.
The impressive Lameiras then should have added a third just before the break, but his touch let him at the pivotal moment to leave boss Tony Mowbray banging his head in frustration.
But just four minutes after the interval, Lameiras’ mishap was forgotten for Mowbray as the winger fired in a goal-bound effort that Jones failed to hold, and Antoine-Fortune provided the simplest of finishes for 3-1.
The U’s then lost Tom Eastman to injury, as George Elokobi replaced him in the 52nd minute.
With a two-goal advantage, the Sky Blues elected to play a lot tighter, and the U’s struggled to break them down.
Matt Briggs lashed over in the 61st minute, before Gavin Massey entered proceedings 10 minutes later, but to little effect as Coventry comfortably saw the game out to claim all three points.