Watt a result: Colchester United 1 Stevenage 0
SANCHEZ Watt displayed his Premier League credentials with a strike that would have graced any top-flight stadium on Saturday.
The on-loan Arsenal man took aim from a tight angle on the left edge of the box and fired an unstoppable shot past goalkeeper Steve Arnold, who never moved.
The 21-year-old has been something of a journeyman figure in recent times, with temporary stints at Southend, Leeds, Sheffield Wednesday and Crawley yielding mixed success.
Not totally off Arsene Wenger’s radar, Watt must add consistency and polish off his all-round game if he is to ever make the step up to the promised land.
On Saturday, his glittering performance gave U’s fans a taste of the big time and they will now hope to see more of the same in the remainder of his three-month loan spell.
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Linking up well with bulky frontman Jabo Ibehre, the Londoner was quick, direct and proved he had an eye for goal, against the visitors, previously unbeaten this season, under Gary Smith.
However, it was his fellow wideman, Gavin Massey who served notice of the U’s determination to wipe out the memories of last season’s 6-1 home humbling to the same opposition.
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The former Watford star collected Watt’s pass and, from a tight angle, launched a fizzing effort at the back post that goalkeeper Steve Arnold was able to parry to safety.
This was to be a common theme over the 90 minutes with Arnold making a string of good saves to keep his team in the game.
Still as big and as physical as last season, despite only Mark Roberts remaining from that hammering in January, the visitors lacked the same devilment that brought them so much success under Graham Westley, although they must be doing something right as they still sit second in League One.
They amassed three bookings for late tackles in the first half but didn’t threaten the hosts’ goal until the 23rd minute when Filipe Morais let fly with a vicious 30-yard strike that Mark Cousins did well to parry wide for a corner.
As for Joe Dunne’s side, they showed plenty of endeavour with Ibehre cutting a superb figure in attack, playing the lone targetman role, but lacked a cutting edge. Indeed, the on-loan MK Dons man had one effort saved by Arnold and saw another header go wide of the far post.
No one could question the hosts’ commitment in the first half but you struggled to see where the breakthrough was going to come from, with most of the U’s best work being created outside the 18-yard box.
That all changed in a frantic first ten minutes of the second half.
First, Anthony Grant, who had already been booked for a crude challenge of Marcus Bean, saw red for hauling down former Southend team-mate, Watt. Two minutes later, Watt had scored with a goal out of nothing.
Ibehre fed the winger down the left channel and before Arnold could set himself, the loanee fired a superb shot across goal, from the edge of the box, that gave the keeper no chance.
The goal lifted Joe Dunne’s men and especially Watt whose pace began to stretch the now over-worked visitors.
Massey was twice denied by the impressive Arnold, while Watt’s Arsenal team-mate, Craig Eastmond, tried his luck with a 30-yard voilley that flew inches past the stopper’s left-hand upright.
Ibehre was the next to be frustrated by Arnold and then Anthony Wordsworth hit the woodwork with a free-kick, before a rare Stevenage foray saw Roberts direct a free header wide, however, the flag was up for offside.
Then came controversy, on 87 minutes. Substitute Ian Henderson beat Arnold to high ball outside the 18-box and the keeper seemingly flattened the former Norwich man, only for referee Graham Salisbury to wave play on.
And that decision could have proved vital as in the final minute when defender, Bondz N’Gala’s acrobatic overhead kick looped onto the bar before falling into the grateful hands of Cousins, whose handling had been exemplary all afternoon.