U’s cut down by the Blades
Sheffield United 3 Colchester United 0
COLCHESTER United slithered to defeat at promotion-chasing Sheffield United this afternoon.
The Blades had lost three of their previous four home matches, but they made no mistake against the U’s.
Barry Robson broke the deadlock after just four minutes, firing home a penalty after he himself had been brought down by Josh Thompson.
And a long-range strike from midfielder Kevin McDonald, with 17 minutes remaining, condemned Joe Dunne’s men to defeat on Yorkshire soil.
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There was still time for Dave Kitson to tap a third in the final minute.
It was the U’s 11th defeat in their last 14 games, keeping them embroiled in a relegation battle.
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U’s boss Dunne had made just one change from the side that beat Preston 1-0 at home last weekend. Brian Wilson was sidelined by a calf injury, prompting an immediate League debut for new signing Bradley Garmston.
Signed on loan from West Brom on Thursday, 19-year-old Garmston was handed his first start at left-back, with John White switching to the right side of defence.
But the U’s suffered the worst possible start, falling behind to a fourth minute penalty by Barry Robson.
It was Robson who was felled, by a mis-timed challenge from Josh Thompson, and he picked himself up to crash home the spot kick, giving Sam Walker little chance.
However, the U’s recovered well from this early blow and created several chances to equalise.
Freddie Sears was off target with a couple of long range shots, the second of them from a free-kick, and skipper Thompson headed narrowly over the bar from George Porter’s teasing cross.
Home keeper George Long was called into action for the first real time, on the half-hour mark, when pushing Sears’ goal-bound shot to safety.
But the Blades finished the first half in the ascendancy. Dave Kitson had a headed goal ruled out for offside in the 44th minute, and 60 seconds later skipper Michael Doyle rattled the far post with a spectacular 25-yarder.
Chances dried up for both sides during the first 20 minutes of the second period, but it was the Blades who eventually stepped up a gear with McDonald doubling the lead on 73 minutes from long range.
Walker then made smart saves from Kitson and Danny Higginbotham to keep the score-line down during the latter stages.
But Walker was powerless to prevent Kitson from tapping home the third in the last minute of injury-time.
SHEFFIELD UNTIED: Long, McMahon, Higginbotham, Maguire, Collins, Robson (sub Poleon, 58), Flynn (sub De Girolamo, 90+3), Doyle, McDonald, Murphy, Kitson. Unused subs: Westlake, Hill, Ironside, McFadzean, Coyne.
COLCHESTER: Walker, White, Okuonghae, Thompson, Garmston, David Wright (sub Bond, 86), Clifford, Porter (sub Compton, 65), Sears, Massey (sub Drey Wright, 72), Ibehre. Unused subs: Bean, Morrison, Eastman, Phillips.
Referee: David Webb (County Durham)
Attendance: 16, 816