Wolves inflict more misery on U's

Colchester United 0 Wolves 1By Carl MarstonSYLVAN Ebanks-Blake rammed another nail in Colchester United's relegation coffin as Wolves sealed a narrow win at Layer Road.

Colchester United 0 Wolves 1

By Carl Marston

SYLVAN Ebanks-Blake rammed another nail in Colchester United's relegation coffin as Wolves sealed a narrow win at Layer Road.

The U's failed to convert three good first-half chances, and they were made to pay by ex-Plymouth striker Ebanks-Blake, who ran clear of defender Adam Virgo to slot home the only goal of the game on the half-hour mark.

Geraint Williams' men have therefore still not kept a clean-sheet since their 3-0 win at Preston on August 25, which equates to a run of 32 games. That is the main reason why they are marooned in the relegation zone.

Wolves keeper Wayne Hennessey made a couple of good saves to thwart Kevin McLeod and Kevin Lisbie. He held onto McLeod's goalbound volley, and then denied Lisbie on a one-on-one situation. McLeod was also within a whisker of converting Lisbie's cross at the far post.

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However, the U's were kept quiet in the second-half as Wanderers strengthened their push for the play-offs. United now have two away games next week, at Plymouth on Tuesday and at Crystal Palace next weekend.

They have just 12 games left, and time is running out for them to save themselves. Once again, their home form let them down.

It was a very blustery afternoon and both sides struggled to cope with the tricky conditions during the early stages. Michael Gray clattered into Karl Duguid inside the first couple of minutes, and was very lucky not to be shown the yellow card by referee Iain Williamson. Skipper Duguid required treatment both on and off the pitch before being able to continue.

Keeper Wayne Hennessy pulled off a good save to deny the U's taking the lead in the 10th minute. Platt headed a free-kick from Chris Coyne to the edge of the six-yard box, where Kevin McLeod let fly with a goal-bound volley that Hennessy hurled himself to his right to catch on his line.

Kevin McLeod was agonisingly close to nudging the U's ahead in the 19th minute. Lisbie did all the hard work with a strong run and an intelligent cross that was begging for just a touch from McLeod. However, the U's left-winger arrived just a split-second too late to stab home at the far post.

U's keeper Dean Gerken had been largely untroubled for the first half-hour, but he had no chance as Wolves took the lead through EBANKS-BLAKE in the 30th minute.

Stephen Elliott was the creator and Ebanks-Blake left Adam Virgo trailing in his wake as he burst onto Elliott's pass. The ex-Plymouth striker kept his cool before tucking home a low shot beyond Gerken, from eight yards out.

It was Ebanks-Blake's third goal since his move from Home Park in January, and his 14th of the season.

Duguid had not really shaken off the effects of the second minute challenge from Gray, and he was finally substituted in the 39th minute. On came Charlton loanee Izzy McLeod to make his U's debut.

Lisbie spurned a great opportunity to net an equaliser in the last minute of normal time in the first period. The assistant referee kept his flag down as Lisbie latched on to Kem Izzet's long through ball. The ex-Charlton striker had just Hennessey to beat, but his low shot was well blocked by the Wolves keeper.

Chances were few and far between for both sides in the second-half, but Wolves were close to doubling their lead in the 66th minute. Kevin McLeod struggled to clear a corner at the far post, and Watson appeared to foul Darren Potter, before the ball broke for Elokobi. The ex-Colchester left-back let fly with a firm shot that Phil Ifil managed to clear off the goal-line. Ifil's dramatic clearance at least keep the U's in with a shout.

Substitute Dean Hammond nearly scored his first goal in a Colchester shirt on 74 minutes. The ex-Brighton skipper met Jackson's free kick with a downward header that rolled just a foot wide of the far post.

Jackson won a free-kick in the third and final minute of injury-time, after being tripped by Elliott. He picked himself up to take the free-kick, with his shot cannoning off the defensive wall and rolling behind for a corner.

And the U's were so close to stealing an equaliser from this set piece. The ball flashed across the face of goal, with Izzy McLeod just unable to poke home with an empty goal beckoning.


COLCHESTER UNITED: Gerken 6, Ifil 7, COYNE 8, Virgo 7, Jackson 7, Duguid 6 (sub I McLeod, 39), Izzet 5 (sub Hammond, 69), Watson 6, K McLeod 6 (sub Balogh, 69), Platt 6, Lisbie 6. Unused subs: Vernon, Bankole.

WOLVES: Hennessy 8, Collins 7, Breen 7, Craddock 6 (sub Foley, 34), ELOKOBI 8, Potter 7, Henry 6, Edwards 6, Elliott 7, Gray 7 (sub Gibson, 77), Ebanks-Blake 7 (sub Kyle, 77). Unused subs: Eastwood, Stack.

Referee: Mr Iain Williamson (Berkshire)

Attendance: 5,989