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Town Beat Colchester in Fab's Testimonial
Town Beat Colchester in Fab's Testimonial
Saturday, 25th Jul 2009 17:27

A stunning own goal from Colchester defender Magnus Okuonghae and a strike from Jordan Rhodes gave the Blues a 2-0 victory in Fabian Wilnis's testimonial. The Dutchman kicked the game off and played for the last 12 minutes, as well as in the half-time legends mini-match.

The Blues, again playing 4-3-3 with Lee Martin on the left, Jon Walters on the right and Jon Stead in the centre, had the better of the early stages of the main game, but chances were few and far between. Colchester came closest to scoring when Scott Vernon first struck a defender then shot over.

Town were passing the ball around comfortably in unthreatening areas, but all too often passes would go astray as soon as the Blues reached the danger zone with Martin in particular becoming increasingly frustrated.

On 20 Colchester probably should have gone in front when Richard Wright first saved from Vernon then brilliantly stopped David Perkins's rebound with his foot. The ball looped into the air and referee Andy D'Urso adjudged Perkins to have handled.

A minute later Dean Hammond shot through to Wright, who was significantly the busier of the two keepers.

Town managed their serious shot in the 25th minute, Stead laying the ball to Owen Garvan, who hit a right-foot effort narrowly wide.

Stead miscued another chance well wide moments later after being found on the edge of the box by Trotter.

Kem Izzet's 34th minute shot over from a tight angle was the first half's final opportunity.

The half-time break saw a nine-a-side game involving Town stars of the past. Testimonial man Fab was joined by Frans Thijssen, John Wark, Kevin Beattie, Mick Stockwell, Simon Milton, John McGreal, Jason Dozzell, Sylvain Legwinski, Kieron Dyer, Martijn Reuser, Hermann Hreidarsson, Kevin Horlock, Darren Currie and some of Wilnis's testimonial committee for the 15-minute match.

Simon Milton and two of the committee netted the goals in a 2-1 scoreline with Kieron Dyer outpacing everyone as if they were set in concrete, Frans Thijssen showing that he hasn't lost any of his skills, Hermann trying to score with very powerfully hit shots from all angles and Dyer and Wark both missing sitters.

After the legends were applauded off, the current Blues retook the field with David Wright the only change, the former Wigan man coming on for Pim Balkestein with Alex Bruce switching to centre-half.

Colchester's David Fox shot wide in the opening minute of the half, prior to more substitutions which prevented the game from re-establishing its momentum for the first 20 minutes or so.

Jaime Peters replaced Lee Martin, which saw Jon Walters move to the left, and Colin Healy made his Town ‘debut' for David Norris, taking on a the role of the deepest of the three midfielders where Owen Garvan had previously been playing.

Fox hit a freekick straight at Wright, just prior to the Blues going in front. David Wright crossed from the right and Magnus Okuonghae bulleted a header past his own keeper to net to score one of the better own goals that you'll see.

Connor Wickham replaced Jon Stead as the Blues started to show the difference in divisions between the two sides. On 66 Garvan struck a shot from a short corner straight at the keeper.

Walters came more into the game in the second half and twice went close either side of the 70th minute, first shooting across the face of goal having cut in from the left, then hitting an effort narrowly wide from 30 yards.

Veliche Shumulikoski and Jordan Rhodes replaced Liam Trotter and Jon Walters and the young striker immediately added to Town's lead. Connor Wickham used his strength to turn his defender and play a ball into the Rhodes's path, the former Brentford loanee taking it on and slipping it past the keeper.

Fabian Wilnis made his final appearance in a Town shirt with 12 minutes left, his every touch applauded by the Blues supporters.

Late on Rhodes almost caught out the keeper after he had been slow to come off his line, then Peters headed wide having done well to reach a ball played to the far post.

After the final whistle Fabian Wilnis thanked and said goodbye to Town fans for the final time at the end of his distinguished 11 years in English football 10 of them with the Blues.

In the main game, Town improved as the afternoon went on, having been little threat in the first period. The introduction of youngsters Connor Wickham and Jordan Rhodes gave the Blues a cutting edge that hadn't been there earlier on, although this may in part have been down to Colchester introducing younger members of their squad as the match wore on.

Aside from Fox's early chance, the second half was comfortably controlled by the Blues with Rhodes taking his chance well only moments after coming off the bench.

New signing Colin Healy appeared to be a steadying influence sitting in front of the back four, while the other new men Lee Martin and Damien Delaney weren't always on the same wavelength as their more established team-mates.

Overall though, after a less than convincing first half, the Blues were worthy of their win.

Town: R Wright, Bruce, Delaney (Wilnis 78), McAuley, Balkestein (D Wright 46), Garvan, Walters (Rhodes 74), Trotter (Shumulikoski 72), Stead (Wickham 59), Norris (Healy 55), Martin (Peters 54). Unused: McLoughlin.

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