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‘We showed fantastic battling qualities’ – U’s boss McGreal after Notts County draw

PUBLISHED: 17:38 05 January 2019

Jonathan Stead (to left of frame) keeps his eyes on the ball as it evades U's keeper Rene Gilmartin, to give the visitors an early equaliser.  Picture: STEVE WALLER    WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM

Jonathan Stead (to left of frame) keeps his eyes on the ball as it evades U's keeper Rene Gilmartin, to give the visitors an early equaliser. Picture: STEVE WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM

© Copyright Stephen Waller

Colchester United boss John McGreal was impresssed with the way his side came back from 3-1 down to secure a 3-3 home draw against Notts County this afternoon.

Sammie Szmodics jumps for joy after scoring his early goal, in what proved to be a goal feast at the Community Stadium.  Picture: STEVE WALLER    WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COMSammie Szmodics jumps for joy after scoring his early goal, in what proved to be a goal feast at the Community Stadium. Picture: STEVE WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM

Sammie Szmodics gave the U’s a perfect start by steering home his ninth goal of the season on eight minutes, but any hopes of a comfortable home win over the bottom club were soon dispelled as County responded in devastating fashion.

Goals from Jon Stead (16) and Dan Jones (18) gave the Magpies a 2-1 lead, and that was extended to 3-1 by Kristian Dennis’ good finish on 31 minutes.

Mikael Mandron pulled a goal back, in first-half stoppage time, and Harry Pell converted a 67th minute penalty to draw the U’s level at 3-3.

But John McGreal’s men could not find a late winner.

“I thought we were unfortunate not to win it,” explained McGreal.

“I wanted a big reaction from the players after our Christmas period (just one point from three games), and I got that early on.

- Six-goal thriller end in draw

“I thought we were excellent for the first 15 minutes. It was a terrific start and we were in control of the game.

“And then – bang, bang, bang – and we have conceded three goals, just like that. I’m saying to myself - ‘what’s going on here?’ – because they were three very poor goals to concede.

“But we then showed fantastic battling qualities to come back.

“We were camped in their half for the second half, and as for the penalty – I’ll take that, because we have been short on luck of late,” added McGreal.

Notts County boss Neal Ardley, however, was angry with the penalty award, for a foul on Courtney Senior.

Ardley said: “We tried to see out the game in the second half, and we would have done, but for the referee.

“We have seen it back and the ref (Charles Breakspear) couldn’t wait to give it after their lad started to fall.

“My players fought for everything today, and I am proud of them.

“But we need the points, and we dropped two today,” added Ardley.

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