Too little too late for Colchester

QPR 2 Colchester United 1By Carl MarstonCOLCHESTER United's late rally was not enough to salvage a point as fellow strugglers QPR clambered above them in the Championship table.

QPR 2 Colchester United 1

By Carl Marston

COLCHESTER United's late rally was not enough to salvage a point as fellow strugglers QPR clambered above them in the Championship table.

The U's are now deep in relegation trouble, and with just one win to their name in the last 12 games, following this narrow defeat at Loftus Road.

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Rangers were good value for their half-time lead, courtesy of a 27th minute bullet from Hungarian front-runner Akos Buzsaky.

And it was Buzsaky who came up trumps again with his second goal of the game on 52 minutes, to leave the U's with a mountain to climb.

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Mark Yeates pulled a goal back with his eighth goal of the campaign in the 62nd minute, and Rangers were reduced to 10 men when defender Damion Stewart was sent off for two bookable offences with eight minutes remaining.

The U's threw everything at their London hosts, but could not grab an equaliser during a thrilling finale.

Ex-Colchester loanee Rowan Vine was in the action after just three minutes, as he came within a whisker of giving Rangers the lead. The winger left Bela Balogh trailing in his wake on a powerful run before unleashing a goal-bound shot that Dean Gerken did well to claw over his bar.

The U's threatened first in the seventh minute. Johnnie Jackson eyed up the target from a 25-yard free-kick, and his curling effort was heading for the bottom corner of the net until keeper Lee Camp managed to push the ball around his post.

There were ominous signs for the visitors when Balogh was once again outwitted by Vine. This led to the Hungarian being booked for dragging down his opponent near the touch-line. He was therefore already walking a tightrope after just 10 minutes.

QPR continued to dictate and Buzsaky spearheaded a swift breakaway in the 11th minute. The U's defence was outnumbered, and Vine scampered clear onto the Hungarian's pass, only to see his angled shot deflected wide of the far post by Gerken's outstretched left hand.

Teddy Sheringham could have been celebrating a goal in the 24th minute, but McLeod's excellent cross rolled just a foot in front of the veteran striker. It was a frustrating moment for the 41-year-old ex-England man.

But it was QPR who took the lead in the 27th minute, thanks to a fantastic strike from BUZSAKY. It was his fourth goal of the season, making him the club's top scorer.

There seemed to be little danger when Buzsaky controlled a throw-in on the edge of the box, but he turned swiftly and then beat Gerken all ends up with a venomous shot that flew into the top left-hand corner of the net.

Kem Izzet was in the wars in the 36th minute, and was unable to continue following a robust challenge by Gareth Ainsworth near the touch-line. Izzet disappeared into the dressing room clutching an injured wrist, and so was replaced by fellow midfielder Luke Guttridge.

United had a glimmer of hope in the 43rd minute, when Sheringham lunged forward to sweep the ball into the path of McLeod. The winger no doubt wanted to sample some glory against his old club, but his optimistic first-time shot flew well over the top.

Sheringham had a chance in the 51st minute. Guttridge failed to control McLeod's cross, but the ball still broke for Sheringham, who shot on the turn while off balance. His effort ballooned wide.

Just a minute later and QPR doubled their lead with BUZSAKY on target for his second goal of the game.

Vine was the creator down the left wing, leaving the U's defence over-stretched. Buzsaky raced onto Blackstock's well-weighted pass into the penalty area and slid the ball beyond the advancing Gerken. It was a calm finish from the Plymouth loanee.

Sheringham had a gilt-edged opportunity to halve the deficit in the 56th minute. Camp dropped McLeod's swirling cross inside the six-yard box, but Sheringham's toe-poked follow-up cannoned to safety off the Rangers keeper, with the net beckoning.

A minute later and United were again out of luck in front of goal. Substitute Guttridge was in acres of space inside the penalty area, only to fire his shot too close to Camp, who parried with strong hands.

But Colchester did pull a goal back in the 62nd minute, thanks to YEATES' eighth goal of the campaign.

Platt's header forwards caused hesitancy in the QPR box, and Yeates muscled in front of defender Zesh Rehman to beat Camp with a precision finish from eight yards out.

Sheringham was lucky to still be on the pitch following an off-the-ball incident on 70 minutes. Clearly unhappy with defender Robert Malcolm's late lunge, the U's striker appeared to catch his opponent with an outstretched boot.

However, the referee did not see the incident, otherwise Sheringham might well have been sent off for the second time this season, again for violent conduct.

Seconds later and Sheringham was duly substituted by manager Williams, with Lisbie introduced into the fray.

The home side were then reduced to 10 men when Stewart was sent off for a second bookable offence in the 82nd minute. The defender clattered into Yeates with a thunderous challenge, which left the Irishman lying on the deck.

Stewart needed some treatment himself, but was duly flashed a second yellow and ensuing red card when he finally clambered to his feet.

United thought they had won a penalty in the 89th minute, when Lisbie took a tumble under a challenge from Malcolm. The referee blew his whistle, but booked Lisbie for diving instead of awarding the spot kick.

There were four minutes of injury-time, and the U's peppered the target with long-range efforts. However, they could not eek out an equaliser.


QPR: Camp 8, Malcolm 6, Rehman 6, Stewart 6, Barker 7, Ainsworth 8, Bolder 7, Leigertwood 7 (sub Walton, 83), Vine 8, Buzsaky 9, Blackstock 7 (sub Nygaard, 75). Unused Subs: Moore, Balanta, Cole.

COLCHESTER UNITED: Gerken 6, Balogh 6, Baldwin 7 (sub Guy, 88), Virgo 7, Granville 6, Yeates 8, Izzet 6 (sub Guttridge, 36), Jackson 7, McLeod 6, Sheringham 6 (sub Lisbie, 71), Platt 6. Unused subs: Duguid, Cousins.

Referee: Dean Whitestone (Northamptonshire)

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