U’s edge seven-goal thriller to seal FA Cup progress
Colchester Utd 4 Bradford City 3 COLCHESTER United were made to endure a nervy finish before booking their place in the second round of the FA Cup via a seven-goal thriller against League Two side Bradford City.
The U’s twice surrendered the lead in the first half as excellent Andy Bond and David Mooney finishes were cancelled out by James Hanson and David Syers, with both sets of defences looking vulnerable.
A free-kick from Brian Wilson and a Mooney spot-kick looked to have put the U’s fully in control after the break, but Hanson’s header 11 minutes from time meant progress was far from routine.
U’s boss John Ward said before kick-off that he would be taking the FA Cup seriously and he stayed true to his word by sticking with the same starting XI that recorded a 3-2 midweek win over Leyton Orient.
The only change in the U’s 18-man squad was the return of Anthony Wordsworth to the bench in place of the injured Ian Henderson (knee).
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In contrast, Bradford City boss Peter Taylor – whose team came into this game off the back of four wins from five – made three alterations from the side which recorded a 1-0 win at Bury in midweek, former Aston Villa winger Lee Hendrie one of the trio to come in.
The U’s started on the front foot and, after Tom Williams curled an early free-kick just over the bar, they broke the deadlock in the sixth minute.
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Kayode Odejayi helped on a long clearance from the back to Mooney and, with the Bradford defence out of position, the Irishman slipped a square ball to the on-running Andy Bond who calmly slotted the ball inside the near post.
Playing on the left of midfield, it was the non-league summer signing’s first goal in 10 appearances following his spectacular early season haul of four goals in five games.
Colchester were guilty of losing concentration after the opener though and allowed their League Two visitors to equalise within two minutes as strike duo Louis Moult and Hanson combined for the latter to slot under keeper Ben Williams.
Undeterred, the U’s set about their task once again and retook the lead in the 19th minute thanks to a classy finish from Mooney at the back post.
When Odejayi’s cross from the right came to him he was tight to the byline and on the narrowest of angles, but the Reading loanee produced a delicate side-footed volley to steer the ball back across the keeper and inside the far post.
Both defences had looked fragile in the early exchanges and that proved to be the case again when Bradford equalised in the 31st minute.
Mooney gave away a cheap free-kick on Norwich loanee Tom Adeyemi, full-back Luke O’Brien hung the ball up near the penalty spot from deep and, with keeper Ben Williams’ charging off his line, midfielder David Syers beat Paul Reid to the ball to head home.
The game got rather feisty after this and Louis Moult was booked for a rash tackle on Matt Heath moments after he felt he’d been caught by Paul Reid’s arm.
Then, just before half-time, Tom Williams was forced off through injury and replaced by Marc Tierney.
Colchester started the second half on the front foot and, after a concerted period of pressure, got their noses in front for the third time in the 56th minute.
And, just like against Leyton Orient on Tuesday night, it was right-back Brian Wilson who gave the U’s a 3-2 lead via a free-kick. This time the effort was much nearer goal and was bent low around the wall into the bottom right-hand corner.
Colchester pushed hard to extend their lead after that and came close to doing so as Odejayi saw a shot a one-on-one effort saved and Vincent pulled a shot just across the face of goal.
The fourth did finally arrived in the 64th minute though via a Mooney spot-kick, his second in as many games, after Matt Heath had been bundled over in the box by Luke Oliver following a crossed free-kick from Wilson.
With the U’s looking comfortable, Ward introduced Anthony Wordsworth for his first appearance following a hamstring injury, replacing captain Kemi Izzet, who had played through the pain of a shin injury.
Moments after that change, Colchester almost got their fifth when Vincent smashed the inside of the far post on the volley to send the ball flying agonisingly across the face of goal.
Bradford stuck manfully to their task though and ensured a nervy finish when Hanson converted a towering header 11 minutes from time.
Colchester defended on the front foot though and it was largely them who looked more like scoring in the closing stages as substitute Liam Henderson dragged a shot wide.
– Reaction to follow.
Colchester Utd (4-4-1-1): B Williams; Wilson, T Williams (Tienrey 45), Reid, Heath; Vincent, Bond, Izzet (Wordsworth 70), Perkins; Mooney (L Henderson 85), Odejayi.
Unused Subs: Cousins, Baldwin, Beevers, James.
Booked: Mooney (83).
Bradford City (4-4-2): Pidgeley; Rehman, O’Brien, Williams, Oliver; Adeyemi, Hendrie (Chilaka 78), Syers, Doherty (Evans 69); Hanson, Moult (Price 59).
Unused Subs: McLaughlin, Bullock, Threlfall, Osborne.
Booked: Moult (39), Chilaka (85).
U’s Man-of-the-Match: Kayode Odejayi – the big man was a handful all game.
Attendance: 2,736 Referee: Mr Iain Williamson (Berkshire)