U's lose third in a row

FRANCK Moussa inflicted a third successive defeat on Colchester United as Southend took the local bragging rights this afternoon.

Carl Marston

Colchester United 0 Southend United 1

FRANCK Moussa inflicted a third successive defeat on Colchester United as Southend took the local bragging rights this afternoon.

Moussa celebrated what was his first goal in English football with the winner in the 14th minute, in front of a record crowd (8,651) for a U's game at the new Community Stadium.

Theo Robinson left Matt Heath trailing in his wake with a strong breakaway run down the right wing, and the Watford loanee lost no time in whipping over his cross.

Belgian teenager Moussa had timed his run to perfection, and he met Robinson's cross with a lethal first-time finish from 10 yards out, giving Jimmy Walker no chance.

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The U's had countless chances to equalise before half-time. Pat Baldwin missed a sitter from point blank range, and Mark Yeates was thwarted by a terrific save from Steve Mildenhall.

But Paul Lambert's men lost their way in the second-half, and they rarely threatened Mildenhall again, despite six minutes of injury-time.

They have now lost their last three games, at the hands of Tranmere, Walsall and Southend.

The U's were without the suspended Paul Reid, so in came Heath to partner Baldwin in the heart of defence.

And there was no place in the squad for front-runner Jamie Guy. Instead, Scott Vernon was recalled to the starting line-up, with Steven Gillespie passing a late fitness test to make the bench.

Southend had the ball in the back of the net after just five minutes, but Adam Barrett's looping header was ruled out for offside. The assistant referee raised his flag early.

It was a cracking atmosphere, and a bright start from both teams. Yeates had a sixth minute shot blocked in a crowded penalty, and Dean Hammond's effort from the rebound drifted wide of goal.

But it was the Shrimpers who grabbed the lead on 14 minutes, thanks to MOUSSA'S clinical finish from Robinson's pinpoint cross.

The U's were lucky not to be reduced to 10 men in the 21st minute. Alan Maybury was held back by Alan McCormack, but then appeared to lash out in retaliation.

Southend midfielder McCormack was booked for the foul, but there was a torturous delay before referee Kevin Wright decided to also flash Maybury a yellow card. That could so easily have been red!

And Maybury was pushing his luck when ploughing into Jean-Francois Christophe with a late challenge on the half-hour mark. He escaped with just a free-kick.

The U's then spurned two great chances to equalise in quick succession. Firstly Kem Izzet headed straight at keeper Mildenhall, after Clive Platt had set him up with a header into the danger-zone.

And Baldwin then missed a sitter in the 36th minute. Hammond flicked on Yeates' corner and Baldwin merely had to apply the finishing touch at the far post.

But the U's centre-half somehow failed to hit the target from just a couple of feet out. The ball flew over the bar.

Mildenhall kept the U's at bay with a marvellous save on 42 minutes. Yeates did well to make space for himself with some trickery inside the box, and his shot was heading for the net until Mildenhall clawed the ball away.

The U's should really have been level before the break, but they could have been two-down when Christophe headed over the bar from Moussa's free-kick in stoppage time. That was a lucky let-off.

Half-time: Colchester United 0 Southend United 1

Izzet had an opportunity to equalise within the first 25 seconds of the second-half. He burst onto Platt's knock-down, but lifted his shot over the bar.

Yet Southend looked quite comfortable after this scare, forcing Lambert to make a change, with Gillespie replacing the ineffective Scott Vernon on 66 minutes.

And Gillespie was soon in the action, heading wide from Marc Tierney's cross. Winger Simon Hackney also came on, as a substitute for defender Heath in an attacking change.

The U's operated with three at the back during the final 10 minutes, and there were also six minutes of injury-time, but they never really threatened a late equaliser.


COLCHESTER UNITED: Walker 6, Maybury 5, Baldwin 6, Heath 6 (sub Hackney, 80), Tierney 7, Perkins 6 (sub Gobern, 86), HAMMOND 7, Izzet 7, Yeates 7, Platt 6, Vernon 5 (sub Gillespie, 66). Unused subs: Coyne, Cousins.

SOUTHEND UNITED: Mildenhall 7, Sankofa 6, Dervite 6, Clarke 7, Barrett 7, Grant 6 (sub Francis, 85) McCormack 7, Christophe 7, MOUSSA 8, Robinson 7 (sub Betsy, 87), Laurent 6 (sub Barnard, 72). Unused subs: Scannell, Joyce.

Referee: Mr Kevin Wright (Cambridgeshire) 7

Attendance: 8,651

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