U’s remain unbeaten after frantic Essex derby

COLCHESTER United’s unbeaten start to the season remains in tact following a topsy-turvy Essex derby against Dagenham & Redbridge.

Match report: npower League One

Colchester United 2 Dagenham & Redbridge 2

THE U’s got nowhere near matching their high performance levels of late in the first half yet somehow found themselves on equal terms at the break.

Dagenham had taken the lead in the 15th minute through Bas Savage’s close range tap in, but Colchester snatched a barely deserved equaliser in the 36th minute through Ashley Vincent.

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Colchester improved in the second period and took the lead in 65th minute through David Mooney’s fine finish.

Dagenham, so famed for their never-say-die spirit, stuck to the task though and equalised in the 72nd minute when Romain Vincelot bravely headed home.

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U’s boss John Ward named an unchanged side to that which comfortably saw off Tranmere Rovers 3-1 at the Weston Homes Community Stadium last weekend. And with neither of defensive duo Pat Baldwin or Brian Wilson recovering from ankle knocks, the bench also stayed the same.

Meanwhile, Dagenham & Redbridge manager John Still also kept with the same line-up following his side’s morale-boosting 2-2 draw at Charlton.

The visitors came into this match off the back of five defeats from their opening six away games, but after Vincelot came so close to heading in after four minutes they deservedly broke the deadlock on the quarter of an hour.

U’s centre-back Paul Reid was at fault, dallying on the ball in his own box to allow the dangerous Gavin Tomlin to nip and slide a ball across the goalmouth for Bas Savage to tap home.

Colchester just couldn’t get going as they had in previous home games and they were increasingly forced onto the back foot.

With the little and large front duo of Tomlin and Savage causing havoc, Kemi Izzet had to make a saving clearance in the box, while twice around the half hour mark the U’s frantically scrambled the ball away in desperate fashion.

Colchester almost pulled level against the run of play in the 36th minute though when Anthony Wordsworth put a stooping header just over the bar from close in following a fine Marc Tierney cross from the left.

Dagenham failed to heed the warning and the U’s did get a barely deserved equaliser in the 36th minute in similar circumstances. This time Andy Bond whipped in a cross from the opposite side and Vincent made no mistake from six yards out with his downward header.

Even then the well below par U’s still almost went into the interval behind when, in first half stoppage time, Savage volleyed the ball inches wide of the far post on the angle following Danny Green’s looped cross to the back post from deep.

The visitors showed no signs of letting up after the restart and came close to doubling their lead in the 52nd minute when Scott Doe shot just wide after fellow centre-back Mark Arber had headed down a corner from the right.

With the hosts continually frustrated, U’s boss John Ward tinkered with his formation around the hour mark by switching to more of a 4-4-2 as striker Kayode Odejayi replaced midfielder Bond.

Minutes later they were in front when, following a quick throw-in down the left, David Perkins pulled the ball back to Mooney and, after a brilliant first touch, he rifled the ball into the top left corner.

Dagenham are renowned for their never-say-die spirit under Still though and they pulled level in the 72nd minute in a bitter-sweet moment for the Daggers.

Vincelot rose majestically to head home Green’s right wing cross but clashed heads badly with Magnus Okuonghae in the process, flopping unconsciously to the floor as the ball hit the back of the net.

The stadium fell silent as the ambulance staff rushed to the scene and, after a five minute delay, the goalscorer was eventually helped off the pitch on his feet. Okuonghae did try to continue after treatment but was soon subbed himself.

Any potential Dagenham momentum was stopped by the incident and it was Colchester who looked more likely to win it late on.

Mooney thumped the base of the far post with an angled drive, while twice defenders cleared off the line in a frantic end to the match which had nine minutes added on.

On reflection a draw was probably all the U’s deserved though as their unbeaten run goes on.

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