Colchester 1-2 Town
Wednesday, 8th Aug 2012 21:33
Michael Chopra continued his rich vein of pre-season goalscoring form as he netted two first half goals in Town’s 2-1 victory over Colchester at the Weston Homes Community Stadium. Clinton Morrison pulled one back for the U’s after the break.
Blues boss Paul Jewell named the same side which started against West Ham on Saturday and the same subs minus Byron Lawrence who was left out, while Jimmy Bullard was again missing.
Colchester included ex-Blue Tom Eastman with former Town man Jermaine Wright’s son Drey on the bench.
The first opportunity of the game fell to the Blues in the third minute when Lee Martin robbed Magnus Okuonghae on the edge of the area but allowed keeper Mark Cousins the time to come out and block.
In the sixth minute Jay Emmanuel-Thomas used his strength to hold off a number of defenders before playing Martin in on the left of the area, the former Manchester United man hitting a shot which clearly caught keeper Cousins’s fingers on its way over the bar, despite referee Mick Russell awarding a goalkick.
Colchester’s first chance came in the eighth minute when John-Joe O’Toole played in Karl Duguid, who got round the outside of Carlos Edwards but scuffed wide as the Blues skipper used his pace to hold him up.
On 14 Luke Hyam dinked a ball over the top for Chopra, which the striker backheeled to Emmanuel-Thomas, who took the ball into the box before hitting a low cross-shot which Cousins blocked. Chopra’s rebound was similarly cut out.
Martin teed up Luongo for a 20-yard strike which Cousins claimed in the 18th minute with the Blues on top but without creating much in the way of clear-cut opportunities since Martin’s two early chances.
However, the next clear-cut chance led to the opening goal. Emmanuel-Thomas sent Edwards away down the right and the Trinidadian sent in a superb cross which Chopra volleyed home from a few feet out for his fifth goal of pre-season.
Soon after, Anthony Wordsworth flashed the ball across the Town penalty area as the home side sought to get back on terms.
The Blues weren’t far from making it 2-0 when Emmanuel-Thomas bulldozed his way in from the right and cut the ball back to Chopra, whose shot was blocked by O’Toole.
Town continued to enjoy the vast majority of the game and in the 37th minute Martin played in Chopra, who took the ball round Cousins and tapped home for his second of the evening and his sixth of pre-season.
A minute later, Emmanuel-Thomas almost made it three with a left-foot curling effort, which Cousins did well to tip over. The Blues might have had a penalty soon afterwards when Chambers looked to be bundled over at a corner.
Emmanuel-Thomas was proving unplayable down Town’s right and just before half-time he played a ball across from the right and Luongo struck a low shot from the edge of the box which Cousins claimed.
The Blues were good for their two-goal lead at the break having been on top for virtually the whole half with Luongo again pulling the strings in midfield. Colchester’s only significant chance was Duguid’s early on, while Town could easily have been further in front.
Town started the second half in much the same vein as they had ended the first but in the 55th minute the home side scored from their first chance of the half. Duguid was found in the area by Wordsworth but was dispossessed by a lunging Delaney, however, the loose ball fell to Morrison who slammed the ball past Lee-Barrett. It was the Irish international’s first goal in a U’s shirt.
After Martin had curled a freekick well over for the Blues, Duguid saw a shot blocked at the other end from an Eastman header with the home side more in it after the break.
There was a big scare for Town in the 66th minute when Lee-Barrett failed to claim a freekick from deep on the right as it bounced across the area and Duguid bundled it wide at the far post.
Goalscorer Chopra made way on 71 as the Blues switched to a 4-4-2 with Jason Scotland partnering Ronan Murray with Martin moving to left midfield. Moments later, Martin should have made it 3-1 when Edwards crossed from the right and somehow he managed to divert his header over from point-blank range when it seemed easier to score.
Edwards wasn’t far from making it three in the 80th minute with a trademark rocket which Cousins did well to tip over.
Cousins blocked Murray’s attempt from a tight angle as the young Irishman seized on Ryan Stevenson’s deflected shot, then after the corner was cleared, Luongo hit a low strike which deflected through to the Colchester keeper.
Town controlled much of the latter part of the game, although on occasion giving the ball away more easily than they had during their impressive first half display.
The Blues deserved their win, continuing their form from Saturday’s 3-1 victory over West Ham. In truth it probably ought to have been more comfortable with chances to increase the lead before the break and most notably Martin’s header in the second half.
Having been somewhat scathing towards his side after the defeat at Southend, manager Paul Jewell will have been much happier with the two more recent performances ahead of the start of the season proper next Tuesday when Bristol Rovers visit Portman Road in the first round of the Capital One Cup.
Town: Loach (Lee-Barrett 46), Edwards, Cresswell (Whight 84), Chambers (Delaney 46), Smith (Ainsley 77), Hyam (Stevenson 65), Carson (Murray 61), Luongo, Emmanuel-Thomas, Chopra (Scotland 71), Martin (Kourouma 77).
Colchester: Cousins, Okuonghae, Duguid, O’Toole, Morrison, Bond (Wright 82), Bean, Eastman, Wordsworth (Gilbey 71), Coker, White. Unused: Pentney, Rose, Heath, Izzet, Sears, Henderson, Ladapo. Referee: Mick Russell. Att: 3,873 (Town: 1,376).
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