Unfortunate U’s beaten by freak own goal
FORTUNE favoured the form side yesterday as Colchester United were beaten in the cruellest of fashions.
After playing some of their best football of the season against high-flying Millwall, the U’s eventually lost to a freak 79th minute own goal from Danny Batth.
Millwall came into this game unbeaten in eight, while Colchester were winless in seven. It was, however, Aidy Boothroyd’s side that dominated a relentlessly high-tempo first half
But after the impressive Ashley Vincent spurned two glorious goalscoring opportunities, the hosts were punished when Steve Morison fired the visitors in front just before the break.
The Essex side deservedly pulled level just four minutes after the restart when Kevin Lisbie capitalised on a terrible goalkeeper error to score his first goal since January 26.
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And although it was the hosts who seemed the more likely to find a winner, it was Millwall who grabbed the crucial second when the ball looped off substitute Batth’s head and into the top corner.
It was a bitter pill to swallow for Colchester whose miserable run of form now reads no wins and just three points from their last eight games.
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Having dropped out of the play-offs places for only the second time this season on Saturday, the U’s are now in severe danger of throwing away a top six finish.
Colchester manager Aidy Boothroyd made three changes to his out-of-form side for this match, bringing in Marc Tierney, Anthony Wordsworth and Vincent for Phil Ifil, Ian Henderson and John-Joe O’Toole respectively.
Those alterations worked wonders in the opening stages as Colchester created chance after chance. Millwall survived a big handball penalty appeal within seconds of kick-off, twice Kevin Lisbie almost wriggled free, while Wordsworth had an inswinging free-kick headed off the line.
It was the lively Vincent who was guilty of missing two glorious opportunities to put his side in front though, the otherwise impressive winger firing wide and over from golden positions.
Having survived the early onslaught, Millwall gradually edged their way back into the game and the U’s – not for the first time this season – had keeper Ben Williams to thank when made two excellent saves to deny Neil Harris on separate occasions.
There was nothing Williams could do about the 43rd minute opener though when Morison beat Franck Queudrue with ease before driving a fine shot into the bottom left corner.
It was a heartbreaking end to the first half for the U’s, but instead of feeling sorry for themselves they once again came flying out of the blocks at the restart to quickly get back on level terms.
Williams’ long punt upfield looked like it would be a routine collection for his opposite number David Forde in the 49th minute. Instead the visiting keeper, perhaps conscious of team mate Paul Robinson’s presence, inexplicably dropped the ball straight at the feet of Lisbie who gleefully accepted the present by rolling it into the empty net.
Man-of-the-match Lisbie, reinstated to his preferred striking role, created problems for Millwall throughout and he was unfortunate to see a towering far post header from David Prutton’s corner go just wide.
In contrast, the visitors created very little after the break. But with the belief of a side top of the form table they stuck manfully to their task and found a winner.
With 11 minutes to go, substitute Batth, having replaced the injured Queudrue after 57 minutes, got his head to Sean Batt’s cross but only contrived to loop it over his own keeper and into the net.
It was a major kick in the teeth for Colchester who were roundly applauded off the field by the home support at the end .
And while the overriding feelings at the Weston Homes Community Stadium will be of disappointment and frustration right now, there are certainly plenty of positives to take ahead of the up-and-coming matches against promotion rivals Swindon and Charlton.
Colchester: Ben Williams 8; John White 7, Magnus Okuonghae 7, Franck Queudrue 6 (Danny Batth 57 - 7), Marc Tierney 8; Ashley Vincent 7 (Ian Henderson 62), David Prutton 7, Kemi Izzet 7, Anthony Wordsworth 7; Clive Platt 6, Kevin Lisbie 8.
Unused Subs: Mark Cousins, John-Joe O’Toole, Ian Henderson, Steven Gillespie, Phil Ifil, David Fox.
Booked: Lisbie (37), White (80).
Millwall: David Forde 5; Alan Dunne 6, Paul Robinson 7, Darren Ward 7, Tony Craig 6; Chris Hackett 7 (Jonathan Obika 73 - 6), Jimmy Abdou 7, Liam Trotter 7, Danny Schofield 7; Steve Morison 8 (Sean Batt 62 - 7), Neil Harris 7.
Unused Subs: John Sullivan, Andy Frampton, Scott Barron, Jack Smith, Marc Laird, Sean Batt, Jonathan Obika.
Booked: Ward (37), Schofield (45), Robinson (66).