Town finish strongly

Colchester United 0Ipswich Town 3THE scoreline may have been harsh on Colchester but neither manager will mind too much after a worthwhile preseason exercise at Layer Road.

Colchester United 0

Ipswich Town 3

THE scoreline may have been harsh on Colchester but neither manager will mind too much after a worthwhile preseason exercise at Layer Road.

Joe Royle's Ipswich kept their first clean sheet of the summer, while making it 18 goals in five games. They have not yet scored less than three in a pre-season friendly and the U's were by far the best quality opposition they have faced so far.

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Phil Parkinson will know his side will not come across better opposition in Division Two and for almost an hour more than matched them.

Their defence looked tight and were only undone by goalkeeping errors for two of the goals. The midfield looked hard-working and inventive and if they find the cutting edge to kill teams off they will be promotion prospects.

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Certainly in the first half Ipswich struggled to contain a lively U's side transformed under Parkinson.

Town's three-man midfield was swamped by the spirited Thomas Pinault and Kem Izzet, with Karl Duguid, Sam Stockley and Joe Keith causing Ipswich problems, especially down the flanks.

But contain them they did.

Scott McGleish sliced a shot wide after earlier hitting one straight to the unflustered Lewis Price, who again looked steady and assured.

New boy Wayne Andrews – making his first start for the U's –was a bundle of energy, won more than his fair share of free kicks and only an excellent tackle by Drissa Diallo prevented him going clear on goal after intercepting a weak back pass by Georges Santos.

The added height of Santos and Diallo has improved Ipswich as a defensive unit but it was in the second half when they looked more comfortable.

Richard Naylor slotted in alongside Diallo and showed he is no slouch at defending too with a couple of vital diving headers to help clear the lines.

By pushing Santos up into a holding role in midfield, Town looked a lot more secure and stemmed the U's danger. Jim Magilton was given his first 45 minutes of the summer, going on at half time after recovering from a hamstring problem and his positive passing bore fruit almost instantly.

U's keeper Richard McKinney was under pressure from Darren Bent but he still should have done better with the high ball, instead it rolled out to Marcus Bent who still had a fair bit to do on Town's right side of the 18-yard area, but curled the ball in from a tight angle.

It was Marcus Bent's fifth goal in as many games and his confidence is as high as his work rate off the ball.

Still Colchester tried and Keith made a terrific jinking run into the area but his low shot was well saved by Price and Naylor blocked Andrews' follow up.

Price also tipped over a stinging Stockley 30-yard drive as the U's tested the Town defence, with Fabian Wilnis also putting in some sterling work.

The difference came in the substitutions with defender John White, celebrating his 17th birthday on Saturday, going on for the dependable Andy Myers and instantly getting caught out by the Blues pace up front.

Pablo Counago played a clever ball behind the teenager and Darren Bent sped on to it before rounding the keeper and tucking away from the acute angle.

Bent snatched his seventh goal in five games when McKinney and Pat Baldwin got in a tangle trying to deal with a high Magilton through ball and the England Under-21 striker poked the ball in from 16 yards to take his tally to seven in five matches.

The U's gave an introduction to traillist Shea Campbell, a striker from Ballymena United who cleans telephone boxes for a living. His 38 goals in 42 games last season took his club to promotion in Northern Ireland, earned him an Under-21 cap and won a host of player of the year awards in the process.

For Ipswich, Jermaine Wright and Matt Richards were also welcomed back into the first team fold, going on in the second half. Richards faces a tough scrap with the solid and dependable Chris Makin for the right back slot, while Wright has a lot of competition in midfield.

Results are meaningless in pre-season but the games can be an indication of what is to come and there was much from this game for both teams to be happy with, while knowing there is still work to do.

Ipswich won't be afforded such generosity in Division One, while the U's know their benevolence will be just as harshly punished in Division Two.

Colchester United: McKinney, Stockley (Halford, 82) A White, Baldwin, Myers (J White, 71) Duguid, Izzet, Pinault, Keith, McGleish (Coote, 79) Andrews (Campbell, 71) Subs not used: Boot, Bowry, Saunders, Hadland, Brown.

Ipswich Town: Price, Wilnis, Makin (Richards, 67) Santos, Diallo, Westlake (Naylor, 46) Murray (Magilton, 46) Miller (Wright, 59) Counago, M Bent (Reuser, 59) D Bent. Substitutes not used: Armstrong, Bowditch, Collins.

Referee: Phil Crossley (Kent) Attendance: 3,746

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