Morris on Target But U23s Defeated By Colchester
Monday, 9th Jan 2017 17:18
Town’s U23s were defeated 3-2 by Colchester United in their first game of 2017 at a very wet Playford Road this afternoon with all the goals coming in the first half. The U’s were two in front before Adam McDonnell’s freekick went in off visitors’ keeper Rhys Williams, then Ben Morris smashed in an equaliser but the Essex side clinched the points just before half-time.
With rain starting to fall heavily as it would for the whole match, the U’s began the game strongly and powerful number nine Femi Akinwande threatened in the 12th minute, breaking into the area on the left and hitting a shot which Blues keeper Nick Hayes did well to palm away from under his bar.
But Colchester took the lead three minutes later when striker Tommy O’Sullivan, who is on trial from Cardiff City, curled a brilliant freekick in off the underside of the bar.
The visitors doubled their lead nine minutes later when Stephen Dooley, another trialist who is currently with Cork City, cut the ball back from the right and Akinwande slammed a shot across Hayes and into the net.
The dangerous O’Sullivan, a Wales U21s team-mate of Blues keeper Michael Crowe, who is pencilled in for a return to action next week having been out of action since October with an ankle injury, went close to making it 3-0 two minutes later but Hayes did well to tip his shot over.
Town made little impression until the 28th minute when Adam McDonnell curled a freekick which U’s keeper Williams tipped onto his post, but the ball cannoned over the line off his back. While McDonnell claimed it, it will almost certainly go down as an own goal.
Akinwande twice went within a whisker of restoring his side’s two-goal advantage in the 31st minute having escaped behind the Town defence, which included Paul Digby playing his first game after a spell out with a knee injury.
Hayes did well to turn the former Bishop Stortford loanee’s initial effort onto the post, then the striker's rebound hit the bar. Digby blocked Charlie Edge’s subsequent shot from just inside the box.
Two minutes later Akinwande saw another strike deflect over, then Hayes saved from Edge.
The Blues restored parity - which on the balance of the game and certainly the chances they’d hardly deserved - in the 36th minute when Shane McLoughlin’s excellent pass found Morris on the left. The 17-year-old striker cut in and smashed a low shot past Williams.
On 40 McLoughlin turned a Monty Patterson cross from the right to keeper Williams as Town enjoyed their best spell of the half, then George Fowler headed over from a corner.
But two minutes before the half-time whistle the U’s regained the lead, Louis Dunne, son of former Colchester boss Joe Dunne, beating Hayes from 10 yards after a loose ball was stabbed to him inside the area, the Blues having been unable to clear.
The visitors, who withdrew the impressive O’Sullivan at the break, began the second half on top but on 54 Conor McKendry curled a shot which Williams claimed. Soon after, the Northern Irishman was swapped for Australian striker Ben Folami.
Dunne saw a 68th minute shot deflect wide, then from the resultant corner the ball fell to trialist Dooley, but the Irishman hit his shot past the post when he should have hit the target.
A further Colchester goal was looking more likely than a Town equaliser but on 75 Blues right-back Luke Woolfenden reached a freekick sent deep to the far post but without testing Williams with his header.
Town should have been awarded a penalty on 78 when McLoughlin was clumsily bundled over in the area but referee Ian Fissenden waved away the Irish striker’s protests, despite being well-placed. A minute later James Blanchfield was booked for a foul.
With eight minutes remaining Digby headed over from a corner as Town began to threaten more regularly.
But after Morris had twice shot wide, the second having been found by an excellent Patterson pass, time ran out.
Colchester deserved their win having made an impressive start which warranted their two-goal lead. The Blues showed spirit as they got back on terms but having reclaimed their advantage just before the break the U’s were on top for much of a less enthralling second half.
Keeper Hayes did well in conditions which were difficult for goalkeepers, while Morris took his total to seven for the U23s this season with another well-taken goal, although may feel he should have done better with his second chance towards the end.
Manager Mick McCarthy was among those watching the game, along with his assistant Terry Connor, while a large contingent from Colchester included their boss John McGreal, director of football Tony Humes, another ex-Town defender Wayne Brown, who is the U’s U23s coach, Steve McCall, their chief scout, and former Blues academy coach Richard Hall, who now works in the Essex side’s youth set-up, all made the trip to Playford Road.
Meanwhile, midfielder Aldershot have confirmed that 19-year-old Blues midfielder Kundai Benyu's loan with the Vanarama National League side has been extended until Saturday 4th February.
U23s: Hayes, Woolfenden, Webber, McDonnell, Fowler (c), Digby, Patterson, Blanchfield, Morris, McLoughlin, McKendry (Folami 67). Unused: Salaudeen, Wright, Robinson.
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