Ward to step up defender search

COLCHESTER United manager John Ward says he will step up his search for a centre-back after Pat Baldwin was dismissed in last night’s 2-0 defeat at table-toppers Brighton.

The 28-year-old picked up a needless booking in the first half for kicking the ball away and then received his marching orders five minutes from the end for a foul on Gary Dicker.

As a result he will now be suspended for Friday night’s visit of promotion rivals Peterborough. And with Magnus Okuonghae injured (ankle) and Paul Reid having been sold to Scunthorpe this month, it leaves just Matt Heath as Ward’s only available recognised centre-back.

Ward – who was beaten to the signing of Alfreton centre-back Aden Flint by Swindon last week – confirmed last night that full-back Lee Beevers, who has only recently returned to the side following a 16 month absence, will partner Heath as it stands.

However, he also admitted that he will try to step up his search for defensive reinforcements over the next couple of days.

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“I will look to strengthen in that area if I can this week,” confirmed Ward. “If it happens, it happens, if it doesn’t I’ll just get on with the group I’ve got. At the moment nothing is imminent but I’ll try and make something happen.”

The U’s dropped a place to 11th in the League One table, but remain four points off of the play-off places with games in hand following last night’s defeat at The Withdean.

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Inigo Calderon broke brave resistance in first half stoppage time and, just as the U’s looked like they might force their way back into the game, substitute Craig Noone put the game to bed with a solo goal in the 76th minute.

It was only the fifth time Colchester have lost in the league this season.

“I’m disappointed because we’ve come here with a positive approach and you could see from Gus (Poyet) that he was concerned about us on the sidelines.

“We haven’t made enough from good crossing and shooting positions though.

“We have got so close to getting in at half-time with them not getting applauded off but one goal suddenly changed that.

“We then had a really good spell at the start of the second half but couldn’t make it count and they got a second.

“For that reason it’s a major disappointment because that’s the difference between being a really good mid-table side and being at the top end of the table.”

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