Platt's red card blow for U's

COLCHESTER United's pre-season programme ended in deep depression due to Clive Platt's red card nightmare.The defeat at the hands of visiting Bolton Wanderers was immaterial.

By Carl Marston

COLCHESTER United's pre-season programme ended in deep depression due to Clive Platt's red card nightmare.

The defeat at the hands of visiting Bolton Wanderers was immaterial. What hurt most was Platt's 26th minute dismissal for violent conduct, which will mean a three-man suspension, effectively ruling him out of the first three games of the season.

It was the worst scenario for manager Geraint Williams, who was banking on summer signings Platt and Kevin Lisbie partnering each other up front for next Saturday's Championship opener at Sheffield United.

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Former MK Dons striker Platt was sent off by Suffolk referee Mike Thorpe for use of an elbow on Bolton centre-half Lubomir Michalik. The Slovakian international left the pitch clutching his face, although he soon returned after some quick treatment.

Platt, meanwhile, was forced to watch the rest of the game in the stands, alone in his thoughts. It was a desperately disappointing afternoon for the 29-year-old target man, and a costly one at that.

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His competitive U's debut might now be delayed for a couple of weeks, unless the Essex club decide that an appeal is feasible.

Ironically, the afternoon had begun with such promise. Lisbie celebrated signing a permanent contract just 24 hours earlier by breaking the deadlock after just six minutes.

Wanderers keeper, Ali Al Habsi, punched away Mark Yeates' inswinging corner, but when the ball was diverted back into the box, Lisbie turned impressively to drill home a low shot from 10 yards out.

Bolton were level just three minutes later, and they were ahead by the 11th minute. That flurry of goals completed the scoring.

Yeates tripped Ricardo Vaz Te inside the box for a clear-cut penalty, and veteran Gary Speed stepped up to convert the spot kick, high to Gerken's left.

Vaz Te then scored what proved to be the winner. The U's defence was over-stretched as Kevin Davies squared for an unmarked Vaz Te, who gave Gerken no chance with a clinical low shot.

Platt's dismissal really took the sting out of the contest. The U's suddenly faced the prospect of playing with just 10 men for the final 64 minutes, against talented top-flight opposition.

Not surprisingly, the U's had to soak up some pressure, with Bolton at times playing some exhibition football. El-Hadji Diouf produced one moment of great skill on the hour mark, clipping over a low cross for Niclas Anelka to back-heel goalwards. Gerken saved down on his haunches. It became 10 versus 10 when Michalik walked off the pitch in the 65th minute without being replaced. That gesture made it more even as a contest, although the U's had coped well with their numerical disadvantage.

The biggest cheer of the afternoon was saved for Teddy Sheringham's introduction as a 70th minute substitute. He played up front with Jamie Guy for the final 20 minutes, although he was obviously lacking in match fitness.

The Layer Road crowd also reacted with glee when George Elokobi, who had an impressive game at left-back, left Danny Guthrie trailing in his wake with an array of tricks.

But in truth, this was not the way that Colchester wanted to end their pre-season campaign.

The squads

Colchester: Gerken, Duguid, Baldwin, Connolly, Elokobi, Yeates (sub Guttridge, 70), Izzet, Jackson, McLeod (sub Sheringham, 70), Platt, Lisbie (sub Guy, 55).

Bolton: Al Habsi, Sinclair (sub Campo, 58), Maite (sub Hunt, 46, sub Harsanyi, 82), Michalik, Samuel (sub Faye, 46), Nolan (sub Guthrie, 58), Speed (sub Jamieson, 46), McCann (sub Alonso, 58), Vaz Te (sub Diuof, 46), Davies, Anelka.

Referee: Mr M Thorpe (Suffolk).

Attendance: 2,066.

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