Super sub Sammie Szmodics rescues a point for Colchester United at Cambridge United
- Credit: Richard Blaxall/Focus Images Ltd
Cambridge United 1 Colchester United 1
Sammie Szmodics rescued a point for Colchester United, on his long-awaited return to the team following injury, with a late equaliser at Cambridge United this afternoon.
Szmodics was introduced as a 76th minute substitute, and he came up trumps with a leveller just eight minutes later.
Making his first appearance of 2017, following an ankle problem, Szmodics was in the right place to divert home Brennan Dickenson’s cross from point blank range.
Szmodics’ instinctive effort cancelled out target man Gerry McDonagh’s opener midway through the first half.
The U’s have now failed to win any of their last six away games, with three defeats and three draws, a run which could well cost them any chance of making the end-of-season play-offs, but this was still a precious point at the Abbey Stadium.
It was a cracking finish by McDonagh to hand Cambridge a 20th minute lead.
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The visitors failed to clear a corner, and George Maris’ delivery back into the danger zone was superbly chested down by McDonagh, before the 19-year-old lashed home an unstoppable shot from 12 yards out.
The ball flashed past Sam Walker and inside the near post, giving the U’s keeper no chance.
It was McDonagh’s first goal for Cambridge, since his loan move from Nottingham Forest, on what was only his second start. In fact, it was the Irishman’s first goal in the Football League.
But Szmodics rescued a point, with six minutes remaining.
Colchester were unchanged from the midweek defeat at Grimsby, operating a 3-5-1-1 formation with Tarique Fosu tucked in behind front-man Chris Porter.
And they started brightly, with Dickenson nodding wide from Drey Wright’s early corner, and then Dickenson having a goal-bound shot charged down by a defender on 10 minutes.
Cambridge threatened first in the 18th minute, and it required a slick clearance from a back-tracking George Elokobi to prevent Piero Mingoia’s teasing cross from being headed home by Luke Berrry.
However, the hosts were ahead just two minutes later.
The U’s failed to clear a corner, and McDonagh controlled Maris’ cross before rifling an unstoppable shot into the near corner of the net.
Only a last ditch tackle by centre-half Leon Legge denied the U’s a likely equaliser on the half-hour mark.
Dickenson dribbled into the penalty area and was just about to shoot when he was robbed by a well-timed tackle from Legge.
Cambridge had the ball in the back of the net for a second time in the 34th minute, with Harrison Dunk steering home, but the assistant referee had already raised his flag for offside.
McGreal’s men did enjoy a lot of possession for the rest of the half, but the truth was that home keeper Will Norris did not have a save to make throughout the whole of the first period.
Cambridge were on the attack early in the second half, and midfielder Liam O’Neil sent a 20-yard half-volley skimming narrowly over the bar, with Walker back-pedalling.
Luke Berry spurned a great chance to double the lead in the 66th minute. Mingoia whipped over a superb cross from the right flank, but Berry could not get enough contact on the ball from inside the U’s six-yard box, and Walker gratefully scooped.
Colchester finally created a clear-cut chance in the 74th minute, and they so nearly scored.
Chris Porter hooked Owen Garvan’s corner across goal, and Elokobi’s rasping shot was superbly palmed away by the agile Norris.
At the other end, McDonagh was within a whisker of scoring his second goal of the afternoon as his shot beat Walker, but trundled wide of the far post.
Substitute Macauley Bonne had the ball in the back of net, within a minute of coming on as an 80th minute replacement, diverting home Dickenson’s low cross, but the goal was ruled out for offside.
But fellow substitute Szmodics did bundle home a late equaliser, to earn the U’s a point.
CAMBRIDGE UNITED: Norris, Taylor (sub Davies, 75), Legge, Carroll, Wharton, McDonagh, O’Neil, Mingoia, Dunk (sub Dunne, 61), Berry, Maris (sub Elito, 86). Unused subs: Gregory, Roberts, Williamson, Lewis.
COLCHESTER UNITED: Walker, James, Elokobi, Briggs, Wright, Garvan, Lapslie, Dickenson, Murray (sub Szmodics, 76), Fosu (sub Pyke, 63), Porter (sub Bonne, 80. Unused subs: Barnes, Vincent-Young, Wynter, Kinsella.
Referee: Eddie Ilderton (Tyne & Wear)
Attendance: 5,708 (1,415 away fans)