Valiants quickfire double sinks Colchester United
Colchester United 1 Port Vale 2
Two goals in a four-minute spell, just before the hour mark, sealed Colchester United’s fate at the hands of Port Vale this afternoon.
Goals from winger Mark Marshall (56 minutes) and substitute Colin Daniel (60) inflicted a first defeat in five league games on Tony Humes’ men.
Freddie Sears did pull a goal back from close-range in the 79th minute, squeezing home from Macauley Bonne’s low cross.
But the U’s could not fashion a late equaliser, and will certainly rue a missed penalty in the first half, when Sears’ 32nd minute spot kick was easily saved by keeper Chris Neal.
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The U’s defence failed to deal with a cross by right-back Adam Yates for the first goal, and Marshall had time on his hands to control the ball before lashing it past Sam Walker from 10 yards out. Marshall was unmarked at the far post.
Similarly, substitute Daniel, who had been on the pitch for less than a minute, was able to benefit from more poor defending to slot home a quickfire second on the hour mark. Again the U’s central defence were unable to fully clear a cross, giving Daniel the opportunity he needed to beat Walker.
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Sears’ late goal was not enough to spark a recovery.
Earlier, the U’s made two changes to the side that drew 2-2 at Swindon last weekend. Midfielder Alex Gilbey was suspended, having picked up five bookings, while centre-half Magnus Okuonghae not risked due to a sore hamstring.
Sanchez Watt came in for Gilbey, to operate down the wing, and Frankie Kent replaced Okuonghae in the heart of defence.
After a cagey opening, the U’s created the first chance of the game on nine minutes. Rhys Healey teed up George Moncur, but the West Ham loanee sliced his shot well wide of goal.
Four minutes later and Freddie Sears was far closer to breaking the deadlock. A slick build-up, featuring Healey, Moncur and Sean Clohessy, ended with Sears curling a 15-yard shot jus a foot wide of the far upright
At the other end, Vale striker Ben Williamson turned to lash in a shot that flew like a rocket over the bar. A yard lower and that would have been hitting the back of the net.
Williamson was soon registering his next shot on target, just a minute later. It was again struck with venom, and this time Sam Walker had to pull off a terrific save, blocking the shot with a strong hand.
Walker’s opposite number, Chris Neal, was in the action in the 18th minute, diving to his left to push away Gavin Massey’s goal-bound drive.
Vale had just about shaded the first half-hour, although Sears did pepper the target with a 20-yarder following a slick break-a-way engineered by Moncur and Sanchez Watt.
The U’s had a golden chance to score the first goal in the 32nd minute, when Massey was chopped down in the box by defender Richard Duffy.
Referee Trevor Kettle immediately pointed to the spot, but Sears’ ensuing penalty was comfortably saved by Neal, who dived low to his left to smother. Sears’ effort lacked both power and precision.
In the 36th minute, Walker spilled a cross after catching the ball and then seeing it squirm from his grasp as his hands connected with McGivern’s head. However, Mr Kettle ruled it to be a foul, and so the fact that Vale bundled the loose ball over the line counted for nothing.
Into the second half and Vale took the lead on 56 minutes, thanks to Marshall’s clinical finish.
It was 2-0 to Vale, just four minutes later, courtesy of substitute Daniel’s close-range shot past an exposed Walker.
The U’s searched for a way back into the game, and Moncur had a free-kick well saved by Neal in the 69th minute.
Shortly afterwards, an opportunist angled effort by Massey looped over everyone, only to cannon back off the top of the far post and roll to safety.
The U’s were handed a lifeline in the 79th minute, when Sears scrambled home from substitute Bonne’s low cross.
Watt had a shot deflected wide in the 88th minute as the U’s searched in vain for an equaliser.
COLCHESTER: Walker, Hewitt, Kent, Eastman, Clohessy, Fox (sub Szmodics, 66), Moncur, Massey, Sears, Watt, Healey (sub Bonne, 66). Unused subs: Lewington, Gordon, Eastmond, Lawrence, Lokko.
PORT VALE: Neal, Yates, McGivern, Duffy, Steele, Birchall, Lines, O’Connor, Marshall (sub Dodds, 78), Williamson, N’Guessan (sub Daniel, 59). Unused subs: Johnson, Brown, Veseli, Slew, Panayiotou.
Referee: Trevor Kettle (Leics)
Attendance: 3,571 (182 away fans)