Shola Ameobi bags a brace as Colchester United’s miserable away form continues
Notts County 3 Colchester United 1
Colchester United’s search for a first away win in 2017 continues, after they were well beaten at a much-improved Notts County this afternoon.
The U’s have not won in eight away games, mustering just three points from a possible 24 since their New Year’s Eve success at Stevenage.
And that poor form on the road might well end up costing them a League Two play-off berth.
Shola Ameobi was the star act for the Magpies, bagging a brace.
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Defender Haydn Hollis swept the home side into an eighth minute lead, only for Chris Porter to equalise with a stunning strike in the 21st minute to rattle up his 14th goal of the season.
But Ameobi restored County’s lead with a wonderful effort of his own, blasting a first-time shot from long range past Sam Walker in the 34th minute.
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And experienced Nigerian striker Ameobi wrapped up the points by rising high to head home Jorge Grant’s free-kick in the 73rd minute.
The U’s were unchanged from the side that completed the league double over Luton Town last weekend, with a 2-1 home win. Defender Cameron James passed a fitness test on a tweaked hamstring.
The Magpies threatened first, on six minutes. Former Ipswich Town striker Jon Stead was narrowly off target with an overhead kick, at the far post, following a long throw into the box.
But two minutes later and the hosts did hit the target, with Hollis breaking the deadlock.
The U’s were unable to clear their lines from a free-kick, and although Ameobi’s close-range toe-poke rebounded back off the bar, the U’s were still not able to scramble to safety. Defender Hollis capitalised by steering the ball home from just outside the six-yard box.
It was one-way traffic early on, and Walker was relieved to gobble up an acrobatic effort from winger Grant in the 11th minute.
But the U’s equalised, out of the blue, thanks to a wonderful strike by Porter in the 21st minute.
There seemed to be little danger when Porter latched onto Rekeil Pyke’s knock-down on the right edge of the penalty area, but he created enough space to direct a rising shot into the far corner of the net, beyond the reach of keeper Adam Collin.
It was a cracking left-footed effort by skipper Porter, and it certainly spurred on the U’s for a few minutes at least.
In the 27th minute, Sean Murray delivered a corner into the box, where an unmarked George Elokobi was disappointed not to hit the target with his header from 12 yards out.
At the other end, Grant was a whisker away from restoring County’s lead on the half-hour mark. He drilled inches wide, after Ameobi had headed down a cross-field ball by Carl Dickinson.
Elokobi was perhaps lucky to escape a red card for a robust challenge on Elliott Hewitt in the 31st minute, which left the former Ipswich man and U’s loanee requiring treatment. Elokobi was given a yellow card instead.
The Magpies regained the lead in the 34th minute.
Walker pushed away a goal-bound effort by Grant, and Hewitt’s follow-up 20-yarder was blocked inside the box by Cameron James. But Ameobi was on hand to crash a long-range first-time shot past Walker – it was a dazzling finish.
In first-half stoppage time, Walker denied the Magpies a two-goal half-time lead by pushing away a goal-bound drive by Stead, while at the other end Porter failed to beat keeper Collin with a close-range header from Richard Brindley’s deep cross.
Stead a squandered a great chance to make it 3-1, in the 47th minute, but he screwed his shot wide while off-balance from close in, following a low cross by the excellent Grant.
There was a half-chance for the visitors, just before the hour mark, when Murray found Brennan Dickenson in space on the left, but his shot was charged down by Matt Tootle.
And the home side made the game safe by netting a third goal in the 73rd minute, Ameobi heading home a free-kick by Grant.
It was nearly 4-1 just two minutes later, midfielder Rob Milsom’s shot cannoning back off a post.
NOTTS COUNTY: Collin, Tootle, Duffy, Hollis, Dickinson, Grant, Hewitt (sub Smith, 90), Milsom, A Campbell (T Campbell, 90+3), Ameobi, Stead (sub Howes, 90+3). Unused subs: Searson-Smithard, Forte, Bola, Clackstone.
COLCHESTER UNITED: Walker, Eastman, James (sub Briggs, 46), Elokobi, Brindley, Lapslie (sub Fosu, 77), Murray, Dickenson, Wright, Pyke (sub Bonne, 77), Porter. Unused subs: Brill, Wynter, O’Sullivan, Kinsella.
Referee: Darren Handley (Lancs)
Attendance: 6,104 (417 away fans)