U23s Thrashed at Colchester
Monday, 5th Feb 2018 16:43 by James Ager
A Town U23 side featuring new signings Barry Cotter and Chris Goteni as well as trialists Mohammed Sagaf and Ben Stephens were comprehensively beaten 5-2 by Colchester United at the U's Florence Park training ground on Monday afternoon. Ben Folami (pictured) and Shane McLoughlin netted second-half goals for Gerard Nash's side in front of watching Blues boss Mick McCarthy and his assistant Terry Connor.
Town lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Cotter playing on the right side of the centre-back pairing with Goteni.
Sagaf, who has been with Waltham Forest and did enough on his recent trial to be given the chance to win himself a deal in the remaining months of the season, occupied one of the two holding midfield roles alongside Tristan Nydam.
Stratford striker Stephens played in a traditional number 10 role with Ben Folami on the left and Ben Morris on the right. Irish striker Aaron Drinan again started up front.
It was Drinan who came close to opening the scoring inside the first minute after latching onto Folami's through ball, but the January signing from Waterford pulled his shot wide of the far post.
A couple of minutes later a flick towards goal from Nydam was comfortably gathered by home keeper Dominic Kurasik.
At the other end, Cotter did well to divert a right-sided cross away from immediate danger and although the ball fell to De-Carrey Sheriff on the edge of the box, he blazed his effort over the bar. Town pushed forward again almost immediately and Morris saw his left-foot shot deflected just wide of the near post.
On 15 more good work from Morris saw him dispossess U's defender Paul Rooney in the box and his chipped ball found Drinan, whose first-time, side-footed volley clipped the bar on its way over.
Five minutes later, Town keeper Harry Wright was out quickly to block a close-range effort from Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe.
But Wright could do nothing to prevent the Essex side taking a 25th minute lead from the penalty spot. Referee Jason Richardson felt Goteni was guilty of getting too tight to Sheriff in the box after a ball was played in to the striker, who got up and sent Wright the wrong way from the spot.
Tariq Issa's looping cross from the left landed on top of the bar minutes later, shortly before trialist Sagaf did well to win the ball on the edge of the Colchester box and hit a shot which, although on target, failed to really trouble Kurasik.
The hosts came close to doubling their lead in first-half stoppage time but Shane McLoughlin managed to clear Cole Kpekawa's back-post header off the line following a short corner routine.
Four minutes after the restart Town equalised when a good headed flick from Drinan released Folami. The Australian striker then cut inside a defender on the edge of the box and slotted the ball between Kurasik's legs to level the scores.
On 49 Town thought they had taken the lead after a dangerous freekick from Stephens was flicked on and pulled back across goal by Drinan for Folami to tap in, but the goal was ruled out for offside.
The Blues kept the pressure up and another good run from Folami ended with the ball finding Nydam on the edge of the box, and his powerful low drive forced Kurasik into a good save down low to his right.
On the hour mark though, the home side regained the lead when Ogedi-Uzokwe played Sheriff through on goal and, despite protests for offside from the Town defence, the latter hit a left-foot effort across Wright and into the far corner of the net.
On 67 Sheriff completed his hat-trick and effectively wrapped up the game for the U's. Wright had done well to parry a goal-bound shot but sub Ross Marshall, who had only just replaced Cotter in what looked to be a pre-planned change, was deceived by a rather muddy goalmouth and Sheriff finished with ease from close range.
Three minutes later, and moments after Nydam had been booked for dissent, the hosts increased their advantage when Town failed to clear a freekick from the right and Ogedi-Uzokwe fired home from close range at the back post.
Wright was again called into action shortly afterwards as he made another good save to deny Sheriff netting his fourth, and the son of former Blue Richard - who was watching the game - then did well to push a shot from Diaz Wright - the son of ex-Blue Jermaine - from the edge of the box wide of his far post.
However the resultant corner wasn't cleared and Ogedi-Uzokwe executed a superb overhead kick from around 12 yards out to add a fifth for the U's.
With six minutes remaining Wright got down well to palm Tarryn Allarakhia's cross-shot out and although the rebound was poked goalwards, the ball was helped over the line by sub Charley Edge and the assistant's flag was subsequently raised for offside.
In a rare foray forward after a lengthy spell of pressure from the hosts, Sagaf struck a shot from the edge of the box which tested Kurasik and Drinan did the same moments later.
The home keeper was beaten in the second minute of stoppage time, however, when McLoughlin's ball across the six-yard box was retrieved by Drinan, who played the ball back into the danger area and McLoughlin tapped home at the near post for a consolation goal.
Cotter impressed in his first appearance in a Town shirt and had made a number of important blocks and won most of his headers before being substituted, with his vocal presence and organisational capabilities clearly missed once he'd been withdrawn.
Goteni was unlucky to concede the penalty and although he produced a few strong and fair challenges, the Frenchman was also caught out a few times by the front pairing of Sheriff and Ogedi-Uzokwe.
Although he visibly tired towards the end, Sagaf looked confident on the ball and was really Town's main playmaker in the opening half.
Stephens showed a few nice touches and worked hard but he didn't see enough of the ball, particularly after the break, to make too much of an impact on the game.
Meanwhile, Town's U18 side are in quarter-final action in the Omni Freight Suffolk Premier Cup at Leiston on Tuesday evening (KO 7.45).
U23s: Wright, McLoughlin, Clements, Sagaf, Cotter (Marshall 64), Goteni, Morris, Nydam, Drinan, Stephens (Dobra 78), Folami (El Mizouni 83). Unused: Hayes, McGavin.
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