U’s have their wings clipped by the Robins
Colchester United 1 Swindon Town 2
A headed goal by Magnus Okuonghae was not enough to prevent Colchester United from suffering defeat at the hands of visiting Swindon Town, who struck twice from close range at the Weston Homes Community Stadium this afternoon.
Goals from Nicky Ajose and Dany N’Guessan, in the 27th and 47th minutes, earned the Robins only their second away victory of the campaign, despite Okuonghae’s header halving the deficit on 78 minutes.
It was a disappointing performance from the U’s, who have now only won one of their last 16 matches, in all competitions.
Ajose broke the deadlock from close-in on 27 minutes.
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Sam Walker dived full length to his right to parry a tremendous 20-yard shot by Massimo Luongo, but the loose ball broke kindly for the awaiting Ajose, who smashed into the roof of the net from inside the six-yard box.
And another close-range effort gave Swindon a second goal, just 70 seconds into the second half.
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Ryan Harley’s rather scuffed shot, from the left edge of the box, was steered home at the far post by the onrushing N’Guessan.
Okuonghae headed home Brian Wilson’s pinpoint cross, with 12 minutes remaining, to give the hosts some hope, but they could not fashion an equaliser.
U’s boss Joe Dunne made three changes to the side that bowed out of the FA Cup at the hands of Sheffield United last weekend.
Centre-half Cian Bolger and striker Elliot Lee both returned, after being cup-tied against the Blades, while Ryan Dickson replaced the suspended Luke Garbutt at left-back.
The U’s started brightly against a Swindon side playing without a recognised centre-forward – just two wide attackers in N’Guessan and Ajose.
Marcus Bean blasted a shot wide after four minutes, while Alex Gilbey, again operating on the left, volleyed only a foot wide of the far post on six minutes.
Otherwise, the defensively-minded Robins frustrated the U’s early on. Lee did have half-a-sight of goal in the 14th minute, but his deflected shot was smothered at the second attempt by keeper Wes Foderingham.
Macauley Bonne, who had marked his full debut with a goal last weekend, impressed by skipping past a couple of defenders on a strong run, only to slice his shot wide with a left boot, while off balance.
Swindon threatened first in the 20th minute. Okuonghae’s attempted clearance was charged down and, from the rebound, Harley’s 20-yarder flew only just wide of the far upright.
Seven minutes later, however, and Ajose swept the visitors into the lead after Walker had parried Luongo’s long-range shot.
Lee nearly grabbed an equaliser in the 33rd minute. The West Ham loanee met Dickson’s corner with a firm header that was cleared off the goal-line by Louis Thompson.
But the opening goal had really settled down the Robins, and Walker had to be quick to get down to save Jay McEveley’s goal-bound header, from Harley’s 38th minute corner.
Swindon doubled their lead early in the second half, with N’Guessan tucking home at the far post from Harley’s cross-cum-shot.
Dunne responded by making a double change in the 55th minute. On came Jabo Ibehre and Gavin Massey, both back from injuries, to replace Lee and Craig Eastmond.
Okuonghae did well to get in a header, from Dickson’s corner, but Foderingham saved smartly on his goal-line.
Otherwise, Swindon continued to look very comfortable.
And they twice nearly added a third in the 75th minute. First Luongo struck the bar with a speculative 25-yarder, with Walker out of his penalty area, and seconds later Ajose had a goal ruled out for offside.
The U’s halved the deficit on 78 minutes, thanks to Okuonghae’s accurate header from Wilson’s cross.
But Swindon held on to clinch all three points.
COLCHESTER UNITED: Walker, Wilson, Okuonghae, Bolger, Dickson, Eastmond (sub Massey, 55), Bean, Bonne, Morrison, Gilbey, Lee (sub Ibehre, 55). Unused subs: Cousins, Sears, Bond, Eastman, Olufemi.
SWINDON TOWN: Foderingham, Ward, Hall, Byrne, McEveley, Kasim, Harley, Luongo, N’Guessan, Ajose, L Thompson (sub Pritchard, 71). Unused subs: Belford, Barthram, Branco, El Gabas, Storey, Jones.
Referee: Graham Horwood (Bedfordshire)