U’s hunted down by Wolves
Colchester United 0 Wolves 3
Colchester United were soundly beaten by impressive Wolves, in front of a crowd of more than 7,000 at the Weston Homes Community Stadium this afternoon.
The U’s were undone by a brace from Leigh Griffiths, the first of them from the penalty spot, and a deflected drive by fellow striker Kevin Doyle.
Joe Dunne’s men did have a chance to grab a consolation goal, but Freddie Sears’ 86th minute penalty was saved by keeper Carl Ikeme.
It means that the U’s, who were second best for most of the afternoon, have now failed to win any of their last nine league and cup games.
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They have taken just five points from a possible 24 in their last eight league outings.
Matt Taylor was the culprit for the penalty, which opened the floodgates for Wolves.
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The U’s centre-half stuck out a leg and seemed to trip over-lapping right-back Matt Doherty, for a clear-cut spot kick.
Leading scorer Griffiths made no mistake from the spot, ramming home a low shot to Walker’s right.
The U’s keeper guessed correctly, but could not get a hand to the ball. It was Griffiths’ sixth goal of the season.
And six became seven when Griffiths was in the right place to steer home James Henry’s excellent cross from the right, just two minutes into the second half.
Wolves effectively wrapped up the points in the 55th minute. This time it was Griffiths’ strike-force partner, Doyle, who was target with a deflected shot that wrong-footed Walker.
The U’s were without 12 players, mostly due to injuries, including attackers Drey Wright, Sanchez Watt, Gavin Massey and Clinton Morrison, plus defenders Ryan Dickson (ill), Josh Thompson and Tom Eastman.
As expected, Wolves started the brighter, on the back of just one league defeat all season, and Magnus Okuonghae did well to rob Doyle, before the striker could get away with his shot inside the first couple of minutes.
Sam Walker did well to get his whole body behind a long-range from left-back Sam Ricketts, which lacked any venom.
But otherwise, the U’s keeper was not seriously tested early on.
At the other end, Alex Gilbey deceived Ricketts, before rifling in a 25-yarder that swerved a couple of yards wide of the near post.
The U’s came close to breaking the deadlock in the 16th minute. Luke Garbutt swung over a dangerous free-kick from the left flank, and Matt Taylor climbed high to head agonisingly wide of target.
Just two minutes before Wolves took the lead, the U’s forced keeper Ikeme into a double save.
First David Wright let fly with a thunderous volley, from the edge of the box, which Ikeme managed to parry. Still the danger was not over, but Jabo Ibehre’s header from the follow-up cross flew straight at Ikeme, who caught with ease.
And it was Wolves who took the lead, courtesy of Griffiths’ 20th minute penalty.
The U’s were hanging on, at times, before the break, keen not to concede a second goal.
Skipper Wilson did well to block a goal-bound shot by new recruit James Henry, and when Walker spilled a deep cross, Gilbey produced heroics to divert Henry’s shot over the bar from point blank range.
On 33 minutes, U’s old boy Danny Batth almost doubled Wolves’ lead. The former U’s loanee saw his header flash wide of the post.
Henry blazed a 42nd minute free-kick wide, after Craig Eastmond had been booked for a foul, as Wanderers finished the first half on top.
And just two minutes into the second half, Griffiths swept home Henry’s cross to put Wolves 2-0 up.
It was all over for the U’s when Doyle crashed home the third on 55 minutes, with a deflected drive.
United struggled to make an impact and Sears delayed his shot just a little too long, before seeing his snap shot deflected into Ikeme’s arms on the hour mark.
Griffiths spurned a gilt-edged chance to chalk up his hat-trick on 66 minutes, but he ballooned his header over the top from Doyle’s accurate cross.
Ibehre had a great opportunity to score a consolation goal, when put clean through by substitute Sammy Szmodics in the 74th minute. However, the U’s striker was denied on a one-on-one with keeper Ikeme, who stood up well to block.
And Ikeme denied the U’s again on 86 minutes, after he had blocked Sears’ snap shot and then brought down Marcus Bean, before the substitute could slot home the rebound.
Ikeme escaped with just a yellow card, and then saved the ensuing penalty by Sears to complete another frustrating afternoon for the U’s.
COLCHESTER: Walker, Wilson, Okuonghae, Taylor, Garbutt, David Wright (sub Bean, 55), Eastmond, Gilbey, Sears, Monakana (sub Szmodics, 57), Ibehre (sub Ladapo, 75). Unused subs: Phillips, Sanderson, Hubble, Sendles-White.
WOLVES: Ikeme, Doherty, Batth, Stearman, Ricketts, Henry (sub Forde, 90+2), McDonald, Price, Golbourne, Doyle (sub Davis, 88), Griffiths (sub Sigurdarson, 80). Unused subs: McCarey, Elokobi, Cassidy, Foley.
Referee: T Robinson (West Sussex)