Yeates cameo as U's go goal crazy

MARK Yeates celebrated his long-awaited return to action with a marvellous cameo performance as Colchester United went goal crazy in a 6-1 win at Essex neighbours Heybridge Swifts on Saturday.

Carl Marston

MARK Yeates celebrated his long-awaited return to action with a marvellous cameo performance as Colchester United went goal crazy in a 6-1 win at Essex neighbours Heybridge Swifts on Saturday.

Yeates volleyed home the fifth and sixth goals to put the finishing touches to the U's satisfactory second pre-season friendly of the season.

The former Tottenham winger had been the subject of transfer speculation during the summer, including a proposed move to Crystal Palace that broke down due to a failed medical. But he is still very much a Colchester player.

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Yeates had not played at all since the beginning of February, after dislocating his shoulder during the 2-2 home draw against Sheffield United.

The Dubliner has since made a full recovery from his shoulder problems, although he missed the U's first pre-season game at Tiptree United last Wednesday evening due to bad blisters.

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However, he returned with a bang during 45 minutes of action in the second-half, scoring twice and spraying the ball around in impressive fashion.

In fact, the U's proved that there is life after Kevin Lisbie - last season's leading scorer completing his move to Ipswich Town on Friday evening.

All the main attackers have already scored in pre-season. Strikers Scott Vernon and Clive Platt both hit the target at Heybridge, while fellow striker Steven Gillespie had netted a hat-trick at Tiptree three days earlier. Gillespie was sidelined with a tight calf on Saturday.

It was Heybridge who took a surprise lead after 16 minutes, courtesy of a delightful long-range lob from Nathan Clarke over a stranded Dean Gerken.

But that was the only joy for the Ryman League Premier Division hosts during a first-half that the U's completely bossed, both in terms of possession and scoring chances.

The visitors took just 60 seconds to fashion an equaliser. Anthony Wordsworth, operating as a left winger, swung over a cross for Vernon to head powerfully home at the near post.

Triallist Akanni-Sunday Wasiu fired the U's into a 2-1 lead in the 21st minute. The Nigerian front-runner, who had also scored against Tiptree, made it two goals in two appearances by skipping past two defenders and blasting into the roof of the net from 10 yards out. He was playing for St Albans City last season.

Swifts midfielder Clarke turned from hero to villain on 33 minutes. Having lobbed Gerken at one end, he then inexplicably lobbed his own keeper Ollie Saunders at the other to put the U's 3-1 ahead. Clarke nipped the ball off the foot of the onrushing David Perkins, but was unlucky to see his attempted clearance drop into the net for an own goal. A completely new-look U's second-half XI began where their first-half counterparts left off, with a flurry of goals.

Platt bagged the fourth just after the hour mark. The ex-MK Dons target man controlled John White's through ball and managed to squeeze a delicate lob over the keeper from an acute angle. It was a quality finish.

A minute later and it was 5-1. Front-runner Fabian Quintyn was the creator from the left edge of the penalty area, and Yeates obliged with a crisp finish by volleying low into the net from 10 yards out. And Yeates was close to scoring what would have been the goal of the game in the 75th minute. The 23-year-old winger took a couple of neat touches before trying his luck with a 20-yard volley that swerved only a foot wide of the near post.

But Yeates was not to be denied. He duly rattled up the U's sixth goal in the 88th minute by crashing home Platt's low cross with an unstoppable volley.

Colchester teams

First half: Gerken, Ifil, Coyne, Heath, Griffiths, Wright, Izzet, Perkins, Wordsworth, Sunday, Vernon.

Second half: Cousins, White, Reid (sub Nelson, 62), J Hammond, Lockwood, Yeates, Jackson, D Hammond, Elito, Quintyn, Platt.

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