Platt's a good sign as Clive nets again

SUMMER signing Clive Platt steered home his second goal of the pre-season campaign as Colchester United shared an entertaining draw with a Liverpool XI on Saturday.

By Carl Marston

SUMMER signing Clive Platt steered home his second goal of the pre-season campaign as Colchester United shared an entertaining draw with a Liverpool XI on Saturday.

Platt plundered 18 goals for MK Dons in League Two last term and the early signs are promising for his new challenge in the Championship.

The 29-year-old, who cost £300,000 earlier this month, followed up his headed goal in the previous weekend's 3-0 win at Heybridge Swifts with a close-range finish on 31 minutes against the Reds.

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Kevin McLeod has enjoyed a good pre-season, and the former Everton winger was obviously keen to impress against his former Merseyside rivals. It was McLeod who curled over a delightful cross for Kevin Lisbie to head goalwards. Kepeer Martin Hanson blocked the header but Platt was on hand to tuck home the rebound from six yards out.

Liverpool's side was made up of a mixture of youth team and reserve team players and it took them until the 72nd minute to fashion an equaliser. The goal was worth waiting for, with Miki Roque converting Ray Putterill's corner via a lethal shot on the turn.

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Many of the U's players benefited from their first full 90 minutes of the pre-season campaign. McLeod and Mark Yeates impressed down either flank, as an attacking force, while Arsenal loanee Matt Connolly caught the eye alongside Pat Baldwin in the heart of defence.

Lisbie once again gave a good account of himself, in a strike-force pairing with Platt and United manager Geraint Williams will be hoping that the ex-Charlton man signs a permanent contract within the next few days.

The U's were without the injured duo of Teddy Sheringham and Kevin Watson. Sheringham has not figured in pre-season to date, due to a calf problem, while Watson seems certain to miss the start of the campaign with a worrying Achilles tendon injury.

Watson is set to see a specialist on Monday, and has already come to terms with the fact that he will have to limit his training schedule over the coming weeks, in an attempt to overcome the injury - former team-mate Marino Keith was forced to retire from professional football with a similar Achilles injury in March.

Kem Izzet and Johnnie Jackson seem likely to form the central midfield pairing, in the expected absence of Watson, for the opening day clash at Sheffield United on August 11.

There were some interesting selections from Williams. Summer signing Yeates, who played on the left wing during his previous loan spell at Layer Road in 2005-06, was given a new role down the right flank, therefore accommodating fellow winger McLeod on the left.

And George Elokobi enjoyed a rare start at left-back, with the experienced Danny Granville, recruited from Crystal Palace earlier in the month, on the bench.

There were concerns around the ground when Baldwin required treatment early on, after a clash with Liverpool target man Jordi Brouwer. Baldwin is now the most experienced centre-half on the U's books, following Wayne Brown's £450,000 departure to Hull, and it is vital that he is fit for the start of the season. Fortunately, he was soon back in the fray against the young Merseysiders.

Triallist Lisbie looked sharp from the early stages. The Jamaican international flashed a header wide from Elokobi's cross on five minutes, and then sent a dipping header whistling over the bar from Connolly's firm header in the 23rd minute.

Liverpool's young guns were also a force. In fact, Dean Gerken had to be at his best to push away midfielder Ryan Flynn's angled drive early on.

Brouwer should really have broken the deadlock in the 28th minute. The 18-year-old Dutchman headed over the top from point blank range.

And the visitors were soon made to pay. Platt prodded home his second goal of the pre-season campaign to give United the lead just after the half-hour mark, after Lisbie's initial header had been parried by keeper Hanson.

It could have been 2-0 shortly afterwards, with skipper Karl Duguid slicing a shot wide from a promising position.

The U's finished the first-half strongly. Platt headed narrowly wide, and Yeates took his time before cracking in a goalbound shot that rebounded to safety off a sea of legs.

Both managers resisted the temptation to make changes for the start of the second period, so the flow of the game was not disrupted.

Brouwer was guilty of missing another sitter on the hour mark. He headed across goal from just four yards out, following a cross by winger Putterill. In fact, on another day the former Ajax teenager could have had a hat-trick, because he then blasted a shot straight at Gerken, again with just the U's keeper to beat.

Brouwer's misery was complete when he became the first player to be substituted, on 66 minutes. He looked on as team-mate Roque was thwarted by a stunning reflex save from Gerken, although an equaliser was just around the corner as Roque made no mistake with an impressive volley on the turn in the 72nd minute.

The Reds almost stole a winner in controversial circumstances with four minutes remaining. U's substitute Granville had only been on the pitch for a matter of a few seconds when he was shoved to the ground by Besian Idrizaj.

However, play was able to continue and the Austrian striker advanced goalwards before lashing in a shot that was diverted over the bar by the back-pedalling Baldwin. A goal then would have been rough justice on Colchester.

The squads

Colchester: Gerken, Duguid, Baldwin, Connolly, Elokobi (sub Granville, 86), Yeates, Izzet (sub Guttridge, 73), Jackson, McLeod (sub White, 78), Platt, Lisbie (sub Guy, 73).

Liverpool: Hanson, Roque, Darby, Hobbs, Huth, Spearing, El Zhar (sub Simon, 78), Flynn, Brouwer (sub Lindfield, 66), Idrizaj, Putterill (sub Crowther, 73).

Referee: Mr B Knight (Orpington)

Attendance: 3,761

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