Slack defending costs Colchester

IN an entertaining 2-1 defeat in this Coca-Cola League One match at the Weston Homes Community Stadium two pieces of slack defending by Colchester United allowed Leeds to continue their 100 per cent start to the season.

Stuart Watson

Coca-Cola League One

Colchester United 1 Leeds United 2

TWO pieces of slack defending by Colchester United allowed Leeds to continue their 100 per cent start to the season in an entertaining match at the Weston Homes Community Stadium.


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Having survived a first which saw Leeds striker Jermaine Beckford have two goals ruled out for offside, the U's gifted the visitors the lead seconds after the break when Pat Baldwin misjudged the flight of a free-kick and Bradley Johnson headed home from close range.

Colchester reacted superbly to the set-back and deservedly equalised in the 57th minute when a superb piece of Kevin Lisbie skill won a penalty which he then emphatically converted.

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But with the home side looking like they might push on for a winner, Leeds were again gifted the lead when Alan Maybury's tame header was poked home by the in-form Jermaine Beckford after 63 minutes.

Caretaker boss Joe Dunne, in what is likely to be his final league match in charge of the U's, kept faith with the forward line of Scott Vernon and Kevin Lisbie even though Clive Platt was available again following a three game suspension.

Former Leeds player Maybury came into the team to make his first league start of the season, replacing fellow right-back Lee Beevers after he dislocated his shoulder against MK Dons last Saturday, while want-away midfielder David Perkins was once again left on the bench after he handed in a transfer request last week.

The league's top goalscorer Beckford showed early on his danger when he nipped away from Magnus Okuonghae just inside the U's half. The big centre-half took him down and was lucky to escape without a booking.

Minutes later Beckford had the ball in the net but was rightly flagged for offside after the home backline perfectly timed their step up.

Colchester's first effort of the match came after eight minutes when Fox let fly from long range and Leeds keeper Shane Higgs clawed the ball around the post in front of the vociferous travelling support.

Leeds were on top in the opening exchanges and Beckford once again had a goal ruled out for offside in the 15th minute following a smart first time ball around the corner from Argentine strike partner Luciano Becchio. This time there was just inches in it and Beckford, having wheeled away in celebration after his cool finish, was disgusted with the linesman's decision.

Beckford almost created something out of nothing after 23 minutes. A long ball over the top was initially won by the towering Okuonghae but Beckford, at the tightest of angles, hit the dropping ball with venom and keeper Ben Williams was forced to stop the ball finding its way into the bottom right-hand corner.

For a split second Colchester thought they had a penalty on the half hour mark when, amongst a crowd of players down the left hand side, Vernon chipped the ball up onto Michael Doyle's arm. The referee ruled that the incident was just outside the box though and Fox wasted the resulting free-kick.

The game always had a niggly feel to it and it was something of a surprise that it took until the 39th minute for a card to be produced. Then three followed in the space of a minute. First Maybury tripped Bradley Johnson, the Leeds man pushed him in retaliation and the pair were booked. From the ensuing free-kick Beckford inexplicably pushed Pat Baldwin in the box and he too saw yellow.

Colchester who got more into the game as half-time approached. A quick free-kick from Marc Tierney led to a corner and Ashley Vincent eventually blazed over after Leeds struggled to clear.

Izzet was fortunate not to be added to the referee's book right on half-time when he fouled Johnson on his way to goal. Richard Snodgrass fired just over from the 25-yard free-kick.

Leeds opened the scoring within seconds of the second half. Okuonghae and Snodgrass came together on the byline, the referee awarded the free-kick in the away side's favour and it was all too easy for Johnson to beat Pat Baldwin to the ball and head home Snodgrass's delivery.

Colchester immediately came the closest they had to scoring all match when, two minutes later, Simon Hackney's superb free-kick from just outside the box was turned over by Higgs when heading for the top left corner.

The U's had reacted superbly to their set back and equalised in the 57th minute thanks to a moment of magic from Lisbie. In one smooth movement the on-loan Ipswich striker brought the ball down from high in the box and turned inside Rui Marques. The centre-half took him down and a penalty was awarded. Lisbie then stepped up and smashed a brilliant spot-kick into the top right corner for his fourth of the season.

Now on top, Colchester were fired up as they chased a second, however, they received two yellow cards in the space of three minutes after the leveller. First Izzet was booked for a foul before Vincent followed him for remonstrating with the linesman in a separate incident.

All Colchester's hard work was undone in the 63rd minute though with a piece of terrible defending. A routine ball into the box was headed tamely by a diving Maybury, allowing on-the-spot Beckford to poke home from six yards in front of his delighted fans. It was his fifth league goal in as many games.

Platt, then Perkins, were introduced as Colchester chased the game, but Leeds' defence, led by the excellent Patrick Kisnorbo, continued to hold firm.

At the other Leeds continued to prove a threat and Becchio came close with a low shot from outside the area following a fine Johnson back heel flick.

Colchester pushed hard for an equaliser in the four minutes of stoppage time but there was no way through as they fell to their second successive 2-1 defeat in the league.

Colchester: Williams, Maybury, Okuonghae, Baldwin, Tierney, Vincent (Perkins 74), Izzet, Hackney, Fox (Wordsworth 83), Lisbie, Vernon (Platt 67). Unused Subs: Cousins, Thomas, Holt, Lockwood.

Leeds: Higgs, Crowe, Kisnorbo, Doyle, Marques (Michalik 85), Beckford, Becchio (Showunmi 88), Howson, Johnson, Hughes, Snodgrass (Prutton 79). Unused Subs: Ankergen, Kilkenny, Grella, Robinson.

Referee: Mr D Phillip.

Attendance: 8,810

U's man-of-the-match: Marc Tierney

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