Scott bidding for starting place

COLCHESTER United striker Scott Vernon has not looked back since he turned down a chance to sign for Carlisle United this summer.

Carl Marston

Heybridge Swifts 0 Colchester United 1

COLCHESTER United striker Scott Vernon has not looked back since he turned down a chance to sign for Carlisle United this summer.

Vernon could have moved to Cumbria, as part of the same deal that saw keeper Ben Williams move in the other direction, but he chose to stay in Essex and fight for his place at the League One club.

And the 26-year-old is pushing hard for a place in the starting line-up for the beginning of the new season, after scoring his third goal in as many pre-season friendlies at Heybridge Swifts last night.

Fresh from hitting the target in the 3-0 win at Troisberg FC in Germany last Saturday, and again in Tuesday night's 2-2 draw against Premier League visitors Aston Villa, a red-hot Vernon scored the only goal of the game at Scraley Road.

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Introduced as a substitute at the start of the second half, replacing new recruit Joel Thomas, the ex-Blackpool and Oldham front-runner scored the winner in the 62nd minute.

Vernon let fly from 25 yards out with a ferocious drive that soared into the roof of the net. It was a goal worthy of winning any game, even a low-key pre-season fixture.

U's boss Paul Lambert actually selected all his fit first team squad for this Essex derby, with the exception of a quintet who could well be leaving the Community Stadium before too long - Johnnie Jackson, Phil Ifil, John White, Matt Lockwood and Medy Elito. Keeper Williams was rested.

Injuries continued to sideline defender Paul Reid (recovering from a broken knee cap) and striker Steven Gillespie (tweaked hamstring), while Ashley Vincent, David Perkins and Marc Tierney were all nursing knocks. This trio should be fit to feature at Ipswich Town tomorrow.

The U's dominated possession in the first period without being able to apply a clinical finishing touch, although Clive Platt could have bagged a hat-trick on another day.

Platt was thwarted by a reflex one-handed save from keeper Oli Saunders, following Simon Hackney's strong run and David Fox's delivery, after just six minutes.

Both skipper Dean Hammond and livewire Hackney peppered the target with long-range strikes, before Platt was denied twice within a matter of seconds on the 20-minute mark. Both efforts were blocked from point-blank range.

Frenchman Thomas, signed from Hamilton Academical on Tuesday, played the first 45 minutes alongside Platt, before Vernon took centre-stage.

United could have added to their tally late on, with Sam Corcoran forcing a good save from distance on 87 minutes, but Heybridge kept them at bay.

Gary Holt, who was at Wycombe when Lambert was manager, appeared as one of the substitutes midway through the second half for a trial outing. He has been training with the U's this summer. There were also run-outs for teenagers Tom Bender and Jordan Pavett.

The U's can low look forward to tomorrow's game at Portman Road, for Fabian Wilnis's Testimonial.

COLCHESTER UNITED: Cousins, Maybury, Baldwin (sub Holt, 70), Heath (sub Okuonghae, 70), Beevers (sub Bender, 69), Izzet, Fox (sub Corcoran, 77), Hammond (sub Pavett, 77), Hackney (sub Wordsworth, 70), Platt (sub Malton, 69) and Thomas (sub Vernon, 46).

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