Spirited U’s can take heart from defeat
npower League One Colchester Utd 0 Southampton 2
COLCHESTER United suffered home defeat for only the third time in the league this season but they can take heart from a spirited display after playing an hour of the match with 10 men.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s fortunate opener came massively against the run of play in the 30th minute, while less than two minutes later U’s striker David Mooney was dismissed for needlessly pushing Danny Butterfield in the chest.
Ex-U’s midfielder Hammond lashed a low volley from the edge of the box into the bottom corner five minutes after the restart after a corner was only half-cleared.
Colchester could have collapsed against one of the division’s most highly-rated sides, but instead they put in a gutsy performance and showed plenty of attacking intent of their own.
The lively U’s dominated the opening exchanges of the match without the ball quite falling for them in the final third. By contrast, it took Southampton until the 26th minute to register their first on goal.
The game was flipped on its head by two refereeing decisions on the half hour though.
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First the Saints took the lead against the run of play in the 30th minute when Nathan Clarke was questionably penalised for coming together with Lee Barnard on the edge of the area.
Rickie Lambert’s low free-kick crashed into the wall and fell fortunately for teen star Chamberlain to poke home.
Less than two minutes later Colchester were reduced to 10 men when striker Mooney pushed defender Butterfield in the chest. The Irishman felt that team mate Anthony Wordsworth, who had just slid in recklessly on keeper Kelvin Davis, had been intentionally kicked by the Saints defender in retaliation.
U’s keeper Ben Williams did well to tip a close-range Adam Lallana header over the bar soon afterwards to prevent the lead being doubled.
There was nothing the home keeper could do to prevent Hammond’s powerful shot finding the bottom corner soon after the restart though after Matt Heath could only partially head clear a corner.
Williams then had to be quick off his line to block at the feet of Richard Chaplow and save well from Barnard to prevent the 10-man hosts going further behind.
Colchester manager John Ward gambled by bringing Steven Gillespie and Andy Bond off the bench for Kemi Izzet and Anthoiny Wordsworth.
With Gillespie and Henderson both playing as advanced wingers it had the look of a 4-2-3 formation at times as spirited Colchester looked for a way back into the game.
Penalty appeals for a foul on Odejayi in the box were turned down in the 70th minute, while Heath had a headed goal ruled out for offside soon afterwards following a fine outside of the boot cross from Lloyd James.
Southampton always looked capable of exploiting the space on the counter-attack though as Barnard shot just wide and Williams saved a Lallana effort with his legs.
Colchester deserved a consolation for their efforts but substitute Ashley Vincent glanced a header wide from a deep James free-kick in stoppage-time.
– Reaction to follow. Full match report in Monday’s EADT.
COLCHESTER UTD (4-4-2): Williams 7; White 7, Heath 7, Clarke 6, Coker 7; Henderson 6, Izzet 7 (Bond 63 – 6), James 7, Wordsworth 6 (Gillespie 63 – 6); Mooney 5, Odejayi 6 (Vincent 81 – 6).
Unused Subs: Cousins; Baldwin, Beevers; Perkins.
Booked: Clarke (29).
SOUTHAMPTON (4-4-2): Davis 7; Butterfield 7, Fonte 7, Jaidi 6 (Martin 70 – 6), Harding 7; Chamberlain 8 (Richardson 88), Hammond 8, Chaplow 7, Lallana 7; Lambert 7, Barnard 7 (N’Guessan 79 – 6).
Unused Subs: Forecast; Dixon, Reeves; Gobern.
Booked: Barnard (18).
U’s Man-of-the-Match: John White
Referee: Mr Phil Gibbs.