U’s rediscover their winning habit with goal feast
Colchester United 4 Tranmere Rovers 2
COLCHESTER United claimed their first victory in 12 matches to cement their 10th spot in League One, at the expense of visiting Tranmere Rovers this afternoon.
Ian Henderson, Tom Eastman and Freddie Sears all scored for the U’s, in addition to an own goal by Ian Goodison, while James Wallace and Jake Cassidy responded for Rovers.
Henderson reached double figures for the season with an excellent finish after just four minutes.
Brian Wilson, ever-present this season, delivered a deep cross from the right flank, which sailed over the head of veteran defender Goodison.
And Henderson ghosted in to head home from the edge of the six-yard box, the ball flying in via the underside of the bar.
Eastman made it 2-0 right at the start of the second half. The ex-Ipswich defender arrived at the far post to head home from Lloyd James’ exquisite cross, even though keeper Andy Coughlin got a touch to the ball.
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It was Eastman’s third goal in the last four matches.
Rovers halved the deficit on 53 minutes, thanks to a long range speculative effort from midfielder Wallace. It was his second goal for the club.
But the U’s restored their two-goal advantage when a corner by Michael Rose seemed to be turned into his own net by centre-half Goodison, under pressure from Magnus Okuonghae, who might yet claim the goal.
Back came Tranmere, who pulled it back to 3-2 in the 72nd minute with a scrappy goal from a corner. Lucas Akins’ low shot found its way into the net via a ricochet off Cassidy.
However, substitute Sears bagged the goal of the game, turning on the edge of the box to unleash a stinging shot which beat Coughlin all ends up at his near post.
That made it 4-2 on 84 minutes, and there was no way back for Tranmere.
U’s boss Ward named four changes to the side that drew 1-1 at Bournemouth. Ben Williams returned in goal, after injury, and there were recalls for Michael Rose, Kayode Odejayi and Lloyd James.
Skipper Kem Izzet missed out due to an ankle injury, and so Anthony Wordsworth was given the captain’s arm-band.
And there was the perfect start, thanks to Henderson’s fourth minute opener.
In fact, the home side could have been out of sight within the first 10 minutes. Skipper Wordsworth saw his close-range shot, from Odejayi’s lay-off, well saved by keeper Andy Coughlin.
James looked poised to score from the follow-up, only for his goalbound shot to be blocked by a defender.
The U’s were threatening again in the 13th minute. Odejayi clipped the ball over a defender, and livewire Henderson nipped in to lob the advancing Coughlin, only for his effort to clip the top of the bar.
Having been on the back foot for the first half of the first period, Tranmere rallied and exerted some pressure before the break.
Their best chance fell to Andy Robinson, who completely scuffed his shot from point blank range.
Rovers were dealt a blow at the start of the second half, by Eastman’s 47th minute header, only for Wallace to make it 2-1 with a long range shot just six minutes later.
The goals continued to flow. An own goal by Goodison handed the U’s a 3-1 lead, only for Cassidy to pull a goal back from a corner with 28 minutes remaining.
But Sears’ 84th minute bullet wrapped up the points for the U’s, and there was still time for Bradley Hamilton to make his first team debut as a late substitute.
COLCHESTER UNITED: Williams, Wilson, Okuonghae, Eastman, White, Bond (sub Hamilton, 88), Wordsworth, James, Rose, Henderson, Odejayi (sub Gillespie, 54, subs Sears, 79). Unused subs: O’Toole, Duguid.
TRANMERE ROVERS: Coughlin, Bakayogo, Goodison, McChrystal, Holmes, Welsh, Robinson (sub McGurk, 79), Wallace (sub Weir, 87) Tiryaki, Akins (sub Devaney, 79), Cassidy. Unused subs: Showunmi, Brunt.
Referee: Andy Haines (Tyne & Wear)