U’s lose again to sink into relegation mire
Colchester United 1 Scunthorpe United 2
COLCHESTER United dropped into the relegation zone, after suffering a club record ninth successive defeat, this time at the hands of fellow strugglers Scunthorpe United this afternoon.
Joe Dunne youthful side fell behind to Jimmy Ryan’s long-range scorcher on 42 minutes.
And they had it all to do when Karl Hawley, who had a loan spell with the U’s in 2009, doubled Iron’s lead just 40 seconds into the second period.
The home side gave themselves hope, when Freddie Sears volleyed home from Clinton Morrison’s lay-off in the 59th minute.
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But the U’s could not find an equaliser during the final half-hour.
They have now failed to pick up a point since a 2-0 home win over Bury on November 17.
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U’s boss Dunne handed an immediate debut to Billy Clifford, who was signed on loan from Chelsea yesterday morning. It was the 20-year-old midfielder’s Football League debut.
Clifford’s inclusion was one of two changes to the side that were beaten 1-0 at promotion-chasing Doncaster last weekend.
Teenager Alex Gilbey was also given a start – only the second league start of his young career – with midfielders Anthony Wordsworth (first of a two-match suspension) and Kem Izzet (ankle injury) both missing out.
The U’s were bright during the opening stages, full of energy and youthful enthusiasm, but once again they lacked a cutting edge.
With the exception of a few long-range shots, by Michael Rose and new boy Clifford, the closest they came to a first-half goal was when skipper Josh Thompson’s close-range volley, from Rose’s corner, was cleared off the goal-line by Ryan.
Scunthorpe’s confidence grew as the first period wore on , and although Cousins made smart saves from both Ryan and Andy Barcham, he was unable to prevent Ryan’s opening goal on 42 minutes.
It was a bolt of the blue, as Ryan’s 25-yard rocket soared into the roof of the net, beyond a dazed Cousins, who will be disappointed to have been beaten by the pace of the ball.
Scunthorpe were celebrating a second goal just 40 seconds into the second period. Debutant Akpo Sodje teed up Hawley, and the ex-Colchester loanee steered home past Cousins from eight yards out.
The visitors were also denied twice by the woodwork early in the second period. Callum Kennedy’s free-kick cannoned back off the bar, and Hawley was denied a second goal by the outside of the near post.
However, the U’s were given hope when Sears halved the deficit to 2-1, just before the hour mark.
It was a case of the two half-time substitutes combining. Sears scampered onto Morrison’s back heel and when the ball popped up for him, Sears made no mistake by volleying home from eight yards out.
But the U’s had very few chances to add to this goal – which was only their second goal in the last seven games – during the last half-hour.
As a result, Scunthorpe have leapfrogged the U’s in the League One table.
COLCHESTER: Cousins, Wilson, Okuonghae, Thompson, Rose, Bean (sub Morrison, 46), Gilbey, Clifford, Massey, Samuel (sub Sears, 46), Wright (sub Porter, 69). Unused subs: Heath, White, Sanderson, Pentney.
SCUNTHORPE: Slocombe, Kennedy, Reid, Canavan, Newey, Ryan (sub Mirfin, 90+2), Collins, Barham, Grella, Sodje (sub Godden, 81), Hawley. Unused subs: Gibbons, Walker, Adelakun, Howe, Severn.
Referee: Keith Stroud (Hampshire)