U’s denied by late equaliser

COLCHESTER United were cruelly denied three points on the opening day of the season as Exeter City snatched an equaliser two minutes from time.

Match report: npower League One

Exeter City 2 Colchester United 2

COLCHESTER United were denied three points by a late Exeter City equaliser in an entertaining season opener.

In a breathless start to the new campaign, the U’s came from behind to lead 2-1 within the opening 11 minutes at St James’ Park.

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Ryan Harley put the hosts in front from the penalty spot in the sixth minute following a needless foul from David Perkins in the box.

Colchester responded superbly to the set-back though and soon led following a quick-fire brace from Anthony Wordsworth – the midfielder heading home following a scintillating move and then firing home a delightful 35-yard free-kick.

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John Ward’s side played some attractive football after going ahead and could have put the game out of sight before the break.

The game died out after the restart though and the U’s looked destined for a narrow victory.

The introduction of substitute Richard Logan sparked a fightback for The Grecians though and it was he who forced home a rebound with two minutes to go after Magnus Okuonghae had blocked Harley’s mis-hit shot.

A draw was just about the fair result in an entertaining match which was a great advert for League One football.

In a breathless start to the match, Colchester fell behind in the sixth minute courtesy of a needless penalty. There was little danger on as summer signing Daniel Nardiello made his way into the right side of the area but, with Marc Tierney in support, the back-tracking David Perkins stepped across him to give away the foul. Ryan Harley put the spot-kick down the middle as Mark Cousins – playing his first game in nearly a year due to Ben Williams’ being injured – went the wrong way.

The U’s responded superbly to the early set-back though and, within five minutes, they found themselves in front.

The equaliser was as good a team goal as you will see, the U’s fluid 4-3-3 formation working to devastating effect. And it was Perkins – playing like a man possessed after conceding the penalty – who was at the heart of the move. The blond-haired midfielder produced some quick-feet in the centre of the field, spread the ball right to Andy Bond and, after receiving the one-two by the right corner flag, he laid the ball back to on-rushing right-back Brian Wilson. He swung an excellent first time cross to the back post for Wordsworth to head into the top left corner from eight yards out.

That goal came in the ninth minute and, just two minutes later, Colchester – and Wordsworth – had their second. When Matt Taylor fouled Kayode Odejayi 35-yards out there looked little danger on, but Colchester’s cultured left-footer stunned everyone by fizzing a low shot straight into the bottom left corner,

Bouyed by their quick turn-around, Ward’s side began to play some very easy on the eye football. The impressive Bond stung the keeper’s hands following Ian Henderson’s cut-back, while the latter also had a header tipped over from a Tierney cross.

Kemi Izzet almost got in on the action, attempting to lob the keeper following a fine Wordsworth chipped pass, while Wordsworth saw another wicked 35-yard free-kick test the keeper.

The U’s weren’t having it all their own way though, with Exeter forcing a number of corners and posing a real threat down the left in particular.

The second half was a major disappointment after the excitement of the first.

With neither side creating much in the way of opportunities, Exeter introduced ex-U’s striker Jamie Cureton – who left the Essex club under such a cloud in 2007 – in the 68th minute to a chorus of boos. The U’s responded by replacing the largely ineffectual Kayode Odejayi with new boy David Mooney, the Reading loanee surprisingly took up a position on the right and Henderson leading the line.

It was the 79th minute introduction of Logan which changed the match though, the former Ipswich Town striker causing problems as the visitors tired in the heat.

There was something fortunate about the equaliser though, Harley mis-hitting a shot through the legs of Lee Beevers and, after Okuongahe made a fine block, Logan was there to thump home the rebound.

Exeter (3-5-2): Jones; Duffy, Taylor (cpt), Jones; Tully (Thomson 79), Golbourne, Noble, Sercombe, Harley; O’Flynn (Cureton 68), Nardiello (Logan 79).

Unused Subs: Krysiak, Dunne, Edwards, Stewart.

Colchester (4-3-3): Cousins; Wilson, Tierney, Okuonghae, Reid; Izzet (cpt) (Beevers 87), Bond, Perkins; Henderson, Wordsworth (Vincent 84), Odejayi (Mooney 76).

Unused Subs: Pentney, Baldwin, White, James.

Booked: Bond (68).

U’s Man-of-the-Match: Andy Bond

Referee: Phil Gibbs (West Mids).

Attendance: 5,927

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