Sam Walker enjoys 45 minutes of action in Colchester United’s defeat to Fulham
Colchester United 0 Fulham XI 1
Colchester United’s final pre-season friendly of the summer ended in a narrow home defeat, at the hands of a Fulham XI this afternoon.
Moussa Dembele bagged the only goal of the game in the 30th minute. The 19-year-old Frenchman headed home from skipper Jack Grimmer’s cross.
It was a slick finish from Dembele, who chalked up 15 senior appearances for the Cottagers last season, which included a brace of goals in a 5-2 home defeat to Derby in the Capital One Cup.
A crowd of just 642 were at the Weston Homes Community Stadium for this fourth pre-season game in just 11 days, following the previous visits of West Ham, Leyton Orient and Ipswich Town.
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Keeper Sam Walker enjoyed 45 minutes of action in the second half – his longest stint of the summer – on his comeback from a knee injury.
And there was a good first-half display from fellow keeper Elliot Parish, who looks set to be in the squad for the opening day fixture against Blackpool next Saturday.
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The U’s started brightly and they forced keeper Marek Rodak into two smart saves on the seven-minute mark.
First, Rodak dived to his right to push away a rasping 20-yarder from Alex Gilbey, who had scored twice in the 3-2 win over Ipswich Town in midweek.
Seconds later and the Cottagers keeper was diving the other way, towards his left-hand post, to beat away George Moncur’s low drive.
Fulham did not threaten until the 18th minute, when American midfielder Emerson Hyndman dragged a shot wide with just keeper Elliot Parish to beat.
Five minutes later and Hyndman was in the action again, although this time his rather over-optimistic 25-yarder was deflected well over the top, off a defender’s boot.
The U’s broke quickly at times, and Chris Porter could have done better when delaying his shot, which enabled a defender to block the U’s skipper’s eventual effort.
Fulham had a flurry of chances, before taking the lead on the half-hour mark.
Summer signing Parish was left in no-man’s land when clearing the danger with his head, while charging out of his penalty area.
Hyndman fancied his chances of lobbing the loose ball into an unguarded net, from near the left touch-line, but his goal-bound effort was headed off the goal-line by the back-tracking Alex Wynter.
From the ensuing corner, defender Cameron Burgess’ rocket shot thudded back off the bar, from 10 yards out, and the follow-up shot by Larnell Cole was beaten away by Parish.
However, Parish was finally beaten by Dembele’s accurate header,
Thomas Eisfeld should have doubled Fulham’s lead in the 35th minute, only to blast over the bar from just eight yards out.
A minute later and the impressive Parish did well to turn away Dembele’s ferocious shot, with strong hands.
Into the second period and centre forward Matt Smith dragged his shot into the side-netting, when really he should have been celebrating Fulham’s second goal.
Walker, on for Parish at half-time, was relieved to see that close-range shot fly past his post.
Gavin Massey, who had netted the winner against Ipswich, was again looking lively down the flank, and he at least tested Rodak with an angled drive on the hour mark, which the Slovakian keeper smothered.
In the 72nd minute, Rodak raced to the edge of his penalty area to save at the feet of the onrushing Moncur.
Winger Dion Sembie-Ferris, who looked lively during his 45 minutes of action, also gave Rodak problems with a cross-cum-shot which was finger-tipped over the bar, while fellow substitute Dan Holman headed over the top late on.
COLCHESTER: Parish (sub Walker, 46), Brindley (sub Olufemi, 85), Wynter (sub Eastman, 46), Kent (sub James, 87), Vincent-Young, Edwards (sub Curtis, 73), Moncur (sub Lapslie, 73), Gilbey (sub Dunne, 81), Massey, Porter (sub Sembie-Ferris, 46), Bonne (sub Holman, 73).
FULHAM: Rodak, Grimmer, Evans, Hyndman (sub Smile, 83), Pino, Burgess, Cole, Tunnicliffe, Smith, Dembele (sub O’Halloran, 85), Eisfield.
Referee: M Bull
Attendance: 642 (91 away fans)