Stockport County 1 Colchester United 2

CLIVE Platt's late goal ensured that Paul Lambert's reign as Colchester United manager began with a plucky victory at Stockport County, so ending a run of three straight league defeats.

Carl Marston

CLIVE Platt's late goal ensured that Paul Lambert's reign as Colchester United manager began with a plucky victory at Stockport County, so ending a run of three straight league defeats.

The game seemed to be heading for a draw until man-of-the-match Platt flicked home David Perkins' lay-off with an outstretched boot. The big man had his back to goal at the time.

That winner came in the 87th minute, although the U's also had to protect their lead during six minutes of injury-time.

Earlier, Perkins bagged his third goal in a Colchester shirt to put the visitors ahead in the 20th minute.

Platt swept the ball in Perkins' direction, following a cross by Mark Yeates, and the former Rochdale midfielder crashed home a low half-volley from 10 yards out.

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There was a touch of irony about the goalscorer - Perkins almost signed for Stockport instead of the U's this summer!

However, Lambert's men could not hold onto their first-half lead, and County were level on 42 minutes through big striker Matty McNeil's close range header.

County dominated the second-half, but it was the U's who came up with the all-important late winner.

New U's boss Lambert made two changes to the side for his first game at the helm. Striker Steven Gillespie shrugged off the hamstri.g problem that had caused him to miss the 4-3 defeat at his old club Cheltenham, while centre-half Pat Baldwin was back in the side for the first time this season after long-term knee and shoulder injuries.

And Gillespie nearly broke the deadlock after just 10 seconds when dragging a shot wide from a good position, following a mistake by defender Jarolsaw Fojut.

Both sides squandered good chances in quick succession. First target man McNeil headed wide with the goal at his mercy from Stephen Gleeson's cross on 18 minutes.

Seconds later and the action switched to the other end. Yeates cut inside his marker and was on the point of shooting when team-mate Perkins intervened with a shot of his own. This effort soared wide of the far post.

But PERKINS made amends by scoring from the U's very next attack.

Yeates was again the inspiration. The Dubliner made a nuisance of himself on the edge of the box before whipping over a cross which Platt controlled and then swept into the danger zone. An unmarked Perkins connected first time with a left-footed shot that flew low into the net from 10 yards out.

County struggled to find a quick response and they were forced to reshuffle just before the half-hour mark. Michael Raynes limped off with a leg injury, to be replaced by substitute Paul Turnbull in central midfield.

Boss Lambert had called for a more committed response from the team, and he was certainly getting that with Dean Hammond booked for a robust challenge on Tommy Rowe in the 37th minute.

However, Stockport levelled in the 42nd minute, thanks to a quality cross from McSweeney and a clinical header from MCNEIL.

Right-back McSweeney's menacing cross floated over Gerken and striker McNeil could hardly miss with a header from the edge of the six-yard box. His downward header dropped beyond Paul Reid, who was standing on the goal-line.

Half-time: Stockport 1 Colchester 1

The U's believed that they should have been awarded a goal within a minute of the restart. Yeates' cross was helped on by Perkins and, although Gillespie's header from a narrow angle was blocked by defender McSweeney, the follow-up from Platt appeared to have crossed the line before keeper Forster scooped up.

However, neither the referee nor his assistant agreed, despite some complaints from the U's, led by Yeates.

Reid was booked for clattering into goalscorer McNeil in the 48th minute. Stockport's striker was unable to continue, despite five minutes of treatment for a head injury on a stretcher on the pitch. He was eventually replaced by Anthony Pilkington.

Johnnie Jackson and Anthony Wordsworth become the third and fourth U's players to be cautioned, both for fouls, and Wordsworth then made way for substitute Kem Izzet in the 65th minute. Sunday Wasiu also appeared as a substitute eight minutes later.

Jackson was lucky to stay on the pitch following another foul, this time on McSweeney, in the 77th minute. The ex-Tottenham man must have dreaded a second yellow card, and ensuing red, but referee Mr Deadman chose to just deliver him, and skipper Hammond, a stern lecture.

Despite all of Stockport's pressure, they failed to trouble Gerken that much, although the U's keeper did perform heroics to finger-tip McSweeney's curling shot over his bar in the 82nd minute.

At the other end, substitute Wasiu scuffed a shot wide while off balance.

But the U's did take the lead in the 87th minute, with PLATT on target. It was a superb goal, with Platt tucking home Perkins' neat lay-off with his back to goal.

It was a slick first-time flick of the boot from Platt. It was also his second goal of the season.

Yeates curled a free-kick over the bar in the last minute of normal time, and the U's then coped with six minutes of injury-time to record their third away league win of the season.

Full-time: Stockport County 1 Colchester United 2

Squads

STOCKPORT COUNTY: Forster 7, MCSWEENEY 8, McNulty 7, Fojut 6, Rowe 7, Baker 6, Dicker 7 (sub Johnson, 89), Raynes 6 (sub Turnbull, 29, 7), Gleeson 6, Thompson 7, McNeil 7 (sub Pilkington, 53). Unused subs: Kane, fon Williams.

COLCHESTER UNITED: Gerken 7, White 7, Baldwin 7, Reid 6, Jackson 8, Wordsworth 6 (sub Izzet, 65), Hammond 7, Perkins 7, Yeates 7, PLATT 8, Gillespie 6 (sub Wasiu, 73) Unused subs: Heath, Vernon, Cousins.

Referee: Mr D Deadman (Cambridgeshire) 6

Attendance: 6,025

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