Szmodics nets a wonder goal but U’s pegged back to a draw by Exeter
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Colchester United 1 Exeter City 1
Sammie Szmodics netted a goal worthy of winning any game but, alas, Colchester United leaked a soft equaliser almost immediately afterwards in a home draw against fellow top-seven side Exeter City this afternoon.
Exeter keeper Christy Pym had an excellent day, but even he couldn’t prevent Szmodics from finally breaking the deadlock with a wonderful finish in the 67th minute.
Trickster Courtney Senior set up the chance with some wonderful build-up play, but there was still much to do when Szmodics suddenly let fly with a thunderous 20-yard volley which flew like a rocket into the back of the net.
It was Szmodics’ seventh goal of the campaign, but the U’s lead only lasted for two minutes.
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The hosts struggled to fully clear a free-kick and they twice blocked shots inside the six-yard box before leading scorer Stockley scrambled home what was his 11th goal of the season, from a matter of a few feet put.
It was a very scrappy goal to concede, and it effectively cost John McGreal’s men two points.
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It was a special day for Ollie Kensdale, who was handed his Football League debut in central defence, due to the absence of Luke Prosser (suspended) and Tom Eastman (injured).
The 18-year-old Academy product therefore become the first U’s player born in the new millennium to make his league debut.
In fact, the U’s showed three changes to the side that lost 2-0 at Newport County last weekend. Harry Pell returned after suspension, and Mikael Mandron was handed his long-awaited first league start of the campaign.
The U’s enjoyed a bright start, and they cracked in a couple of goal attempts on the five-minute mark.
Courtney Senior exchanged a slick one-two with Frank Nouble and burst into the box before squaring for teenager Kensdale, whose goal-bound shot was well blocked by keeper Pym.
From the ensuing corner, Sammie Szmodics dragged a 20-yarder only a foot wide of the post, with Pym rooted to the spot.
Exeter did not threaten early on, summer up by a 16th minute free-kick routine which saw right-back Pierce Sweeney balloon his shot several yards over the top, much to the amusement of the home supporters behind that goal.
Four minutes later and Szmodics peppered the target again, this time his low drive from Senior’s lay-off appearing to be deflected wide, although a goal-kick was awarded.
A Senior free-kick caused real problems in the Grecians six-yard box on 26 minutes. The delivery took a deflection off Szmodics and was somehow kept out by the superb reactions of keeper Pym on his goal-line.
At the other end, keeper Dillon Barnes was swiftly off his goal-line to dive at the feet of striker Tristan Abrahams and so smother the danger.
Ryan Jackson’s angled drive was deflected narrowly wide of the far upright on 35 minutes, with Szmodics close to steering home at point blank range, while Abrahams flashed a shot across the face of the U’s goal in first-half stoppage time.
Early in the second half, a cross-cum-shot by Szmodics was scooped over his own bar by Grecians centre-half Aaron Martin, while Pym was again in fine form to palm away a goalbound shot from Frank Nouble in the 53rd minute.
But Pym had no chance as Szmodics connected with a sweet shot to break the deadlock for the U’s in the 67th minute.
However, the visitors equalised just two minutes later through Stockley’s poacher effort from close-in.
The U’s tried to regain their lead and Nouble had a shot diverted wide off a defender in the 80th minute, with Pym easily gathering a rising header by Mandron from the ensuing corner.
COLCHESTER: Barnes, Jackson, Kent, Kensdale, Vincent-Young, Lapslie, Pell, Senior (sub Gondoh, 86), Szmodics, Nouble, Mandron (sub Dickenson, 90). Unused subs: Ross, Comley, Wright, James, Collins.
EXETER CITY: Pym, Sweeney, A Martin, O’Shea, Woodman, Tillson, Holmes (sub L Martin, 74), Law, Taylor, Abrahams (sub Ogbene, 63), Stockley. Unused subs: Hamon, Forte, Jay, Moxey, Croll.
Referee: Ben Toner (Lancs)
Attendance: 3,384 (264 away fans)