U's humbled by Hereford

COLCHESTER United were shocked by third-from-bottom Hereford as they slithered to another home defeat this afternoon.

Carl Marston

Colchester United 1 Hereford United 2

COLCHESTER United were shocked by third-from-bottom Hereford as they slithered to another home defeat this afternoon.

Lowly Hereford had only scored two goals in their previous nine away league games, but they doubled that tally inside an 11-minute period of the first half.

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And although the U's dominated for the remainder of the match, they could only manage one goal themselves. This was their sixth defeat from 10 home league games.

The Bulls took the lead in the 28th minute, with Steve Guinan lashing home the loose ball after the U's had failed to clear a corner by Lionel Ainsworth.

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Another defensive lapse led to a second goal for the visitors on 39 minutes. This time they were punished for a poor header by Paul Reid, with an unmarked Ainsworth sliding home at the far post following Guinan's intervention. It was a scrappy goal to concede.

The U's dominated the second-half and they pulled a goal back in the 70th minute. Johnnie Jackson's long range shot was blocked, but the follow-up drive from Jermaine Easter fizzed into the far corner of the net from 18 yards out.

However, try as they might, the U's could not find an equalising goal in the closing minutes.

U's boss Paul Lambert named an unchanged side following the previous weekend's 2-1 win at Northampton. There were home debuts for keeper Jimmy Walker and left-back Marc Tierney, following their impressive first starts at Sixfields.

Neither side seriously threatened inside the first 10 minutes. Jermaine Easter actually slotted the ball into an empty net on four minutes, but the assistant referee had long since raised his flag for offside against the Plymouth loanee.

The U's were off target with their early shooting. Mark Yeates lifted a shot over the bar from a promising position, and Easter pulled a low shot wide following good pressure from the hosts.

It was Hereford who earned the first corner of the game in the 15th minute. Clive Platt was back to head away the cross, and midfielder Ben Smith volleyed the rebound wide.

The U's created their first clear-cut in the 25th minute. Yeates floated over a teasing cross to the far post, but the commanding Platt nodded over the bar from eight yards out.

However, the Bulls had been gradually finding their feet, and they shocked the hosts by taking the lead in the 28th minute, via GUINAN'S fourth goal of the season.

Smith's rather optimistic long range shot had earned Hereford their second corner of the game, and the U's struggled to clear the ensuing cross from Ainsworth inside the six-yard box, with Walker not able to get a telling touch. The ball ricocheted into the path of Guinan, who rifled home in some style from eight yards out.

The U's frustration was summed up by skipper Dean Hammond, who was booked for chopping down winger Matt Done on 33 minutes. Hammond complained to referee Andy Hall that he had won the ball in the challenge. It was his seventh booking of the season.

And it got worse for Colchester when AINSWORTH steered home Hereford's second goal of the game in the 39th minute.

The U's defence seemed to stand still as Toumani Diagouraga's header squirmed its way through to Ainsworth, via Guinan's challenge, at the far post. Walker tried to close him down but the Watford loanee managed to lift the ball into an empty net from a narrow angle.

The home side tried to halve the deficit before the interval. Yeates sped down the right flank and whipped over a delightful cross for Easter to volley wide with a scissor kick.

Half-time: Colchester United 0 Hereford United 2

The U's changed their shape in the second-half. They played with less width, choosing to operate with Yeates just behind the front-two rather than out on the wing.

But there was a surprise when Yeates was taken off just before the hour mark. He was replaced by Anthony Wordsworth, and at the same time Kem Izzet came on for David Perkins. This was less of a surprise.

The Bulls were close to a third goal in the 63rd minute. Midfielder Smith was allowed to sneak behind Paul Reid and fire in an angled shot that Walker did well to save.

But the U's set up an interesting final quarter of the game, thanks to EASTER'S second goal for the club to make it 1-2 in the 70th minute.

Johnnie Jackson's initial long range shot was charged down by a defender, but straight into the path of Easter, who crashed home a low drive from the edge of the box.

The U's become encamped in Hereford's half of the pitch, searching for an equaliser. Yet they nearly conceded a third goal on 82 minutes when Walker performed heroics to beat away Ainsworth's goalbound shot.

At the other end, substitute Izzet's cross was met by Tierney, although his header failed to beat Weale.

In a frantic finish, keeper Weale clawed away Wordsworth's effort, and from the ensuing corner, Hammond's downward header was cleared off the goal-line by a defender.

That was the U's last chance.


COLCHESTER UNITED: Walker 6, Baldwin 7, Coyne 6, Reid 5 (sub Vernon, 88), Tierney 6, Yeates 7 (sub Wordsworth, 59), Hammond 7, Perkins 5 (sub Izzet, 59), J Jackson 6, Platt 6, EASTER 7. Subs: White, Gerken.

HEREFORD UNITED: Weale 7, R Jackson 7, Gowling 7, Beckwith 7, Taylor 7, AINSWORTH 8 (sub Johnson, 84), Smith 7, Diagouraga 6, Done 6 (sub Gwynne, 84), Guinan 7, Williams 6. Subs: Rose, Chadwick, Samson.

Referee: Mr Andy Hall (West Midlands)

Attendance: 4,794

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