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Team Sheet

Colchester United
1
Dean Gerken
2
Ryan Jackson

Lapslie 65'

3
Cohen Bramall
5
Luke Prosser (c)
7
Courtney Senior
8
Harry Pell
1 goals for Harry Pell
9
Luke Norris

Robinson 80'

14
Brandon Comley
Yellow card for Brandon Comley
18
Tom Eastman
45
Frank Nouble
49
Kwame Poku

Gambin 70'

Salford City FC
1
Chris Neal
3
Ibou Touray
4
Oscar Threlkeld
5
Liam Hogan (c)
7
Luke Armstrong
Yellow card for Luke Armstrong

Whitehead 90+2'

8
Lois Maynard
10
Danny Lloyd

Conway 61'

15
Cameron Burgess
17
Richie Towell
Yellow card for Richie Towell
22
Dan Jones
32
Jake Jervis

Dieseruvwe 88'

Substitutes
29
Ethan Ross
4
Tom Lapslie
6
Omar Sowunmi
13
Theo Robinson
21
Ryan Clampin
24
Ben Stevenson
26
Luke Gambin
Substitutes
12
Kyle Letheren
6
Carl Piergianni
9
Adam Rooney
18
Danny Whitehead
20
Mani Dieseruvwe
34
Alex Doyle
44
Craig Conway
Managers
Head Coach - John McGreal
Managers
Manager - Graham Alexander
Match Officals
Referee - Josh Smith
Assistant Referee - G Read
Assistant Referee - R Cheosiaua
Fourth Official - P Yates

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Match
Report

Salford City’s travelling support will be developing an aversion to Essex if the habit of conceding late goals to that fair county’s football teams continues. Last time The Ammies ventured to this part of the world a last-gasp strike gave Braintree Town – rock bottom of the National League - what had seemed an unlikely win. To be fair, Colchester United are a completely different kettle of fish, but Harry Pell’s injury time winner would prove to be no less disappointing for the faithful few.

Graham Alexander made changes following the disappointing showing at home to Macclesfield Town a fortnight ago. Dan Jones was in at left-back, with usual incumbent Ibou Touray pushed forward onto the left side of midfield. The central defensive partnership was changed too, with club captain Liam Hogan replacing Nathan Pond. Danny Lloyd stepped into midfield, with Danny Whitehead missing out and Jake Jervis partnered Luke Armstrong upfront, with Adam Rooney among the substitutes.

An increasingly chilly afternoon at Colchester’s smart JobServe Community Stadium started quietly as both sides sized up the opposition. The first chance of note went the way of the visitors after Lloyd’s left-footed cross from the right was headed away for a corner after Touray got up to challenge. The delivery was cleared only as far as Dan Jones, but his attempt to dip an effort in on goal dropped over the crossbar.

It was the U’s turn next as a cross from the left dropped beyond the far post, where Luke Norris headed back into the middle. Lois Maynard had anticipated the danger, arriving on cue to nod a calm header over his own bar, at the expense of a corner. That corner came in from Colchester’s right, with Luke Prosser heading down for Courtney Senior to hit a shot from outside the box and left-of-centre. Salford keeper Chris Neal was able to watch that one fly wide of his left-hand post, then once again defences got on top to keep goalmouth action to a minimum for a while.

Both of the sides looked solid at the back, although on 20 minutes Armstrong got in a header that flashed narrowly wide of the target. The U’s gave possession away inside their own half soon after that, with Richie Towell almost taking advantage. The Irish midfielder swiveled to push a low pass through the middle for Jervis to chase, only for a defender to get in and usher the ball back to home keeper Dean Gerken.

The game was coming to life and Frank Nouble passed inside from the left for Senior to hit an effort that was blocked by Hogan, who recovered to keep possession and get in a clearance. Good defensive work from the skipper and Colchester needed to be on their toes as the Ammies countered. Towell’s attempt to place a shot home was foiled as Prosser managed to get in a vital block, with Maynard’s follow-up being routinely gathered by Gerken.

Pretty even as we passed the half-hour mark, but as half-time approached The U’s were seeing more of the ball and looking to attack, mainly from their right flank.

Senior was looking particularly threatening and his angled run inside from the right took him clear of a couple of opponents until his progress was blocked – literally – by Towell. The Salford midfielder picked up a yellow card for that challenge but was spared further punishment as Cohen Bramall’s free-kick cleared the crossbar.

Colchester put together a good move 10 minutes from the break as Ryan Jackson advanced on the right before passing to Kwame Poku. The ball was moved inside to Senior who left fly with a shot that was bravely blocked by the covering Cameron Burgess.

The home side were building a head of steam as the first-half drew to a close and Brandon Comley dodged Armstrong in midfield before picking out Nouble on the left. He in turn moved possession on to Bramall and when the low cross came in it seemed destined to find Norris until Hogan stretched out a leg to intercept.

Norris got his chance within another minute, taking Jackson’s pass expertly, but the striker slipped at the critical moment and his shot bobbled harmlessly through to Neal.

Nouble was having a good spell and his pass to the right sent Jackson away on another galloping run that took him away from Touray. The cross was decent, but from distance Poku’s header dropped harmlessly wide of Neal’s right-hand upright. The former West Ham forward was at it again in the 41st minute, and this time his trickery took him to the line on the left. The cross that followed was inviting, but Dan Jones got there before Norris at the far post to get in an effective clearing header.

Colchester were turning the screw a little and two minutes before half-time they nearly unlocked Salford’s stubborn defence. Bramall’s pass down the left sent Nouble away again, and this time he cut a low pass back to Poku. This was a good chance but from 15 yards out and left-of-centre the young midfielder could only place a shot straight at Neal.

There would be more defensive work for The Ammies to do before half-time as Norris flicked a pass out to Jackson on the right, with his low cross flicking off the heels of Dan Jones and dropping over the bar. Bramall’s corner from the right was met by Norris whose powerful header clipped off a defensive body and behind. Another corner, and when this one was cleared Comley unleashed a low shot that seemed to swerve, forcing Neal to get down to his right to push the ball away.

A very good save from Salford’s keeper, but Colchester continued to roll forward. During the first minute of time added on Norris headed back for Pell who fancied his chances from outside the area. The idea was fair although the execution was not as Pell was obliged to watch his rising effort cleared the bar comfortably.

HALF-TIME: COLCHESTER UNITED 0 SALFORD CITY 0

The Ammies had to soak up plenty of pressure during the last third of the first half, yet the pattern of the game would change almost from the restart. A slight tactical change saw Jerivs move out to the right, with Lloyd pushed into a more central attacking position.

Salford looked mobile and bright, and in the 49th minute Jervis delivered a free-kick from wide on the left. Hogan attacked the cross but was inches away from making contact with his head, with the ball dropping out for a goal kick.

Graham Alexander’s men were on the front foot, although opportunities to test Gerken seriously were evading them. That almost changed in the 53rd minute after Jackson’s pass inside from the right failed to find its target, allowing the alert Towell to nip in. There was space at the heart of Colchester’s defence, but from just inside the ‘D’ and left-of-centre Towell could only drill a low shot narrowly wide of the keeper’s right-hand post.

Encouraging for the vocal band of away supporters and their side would continue to see most of the attacking possession for a good while yet. The U’s had struggled to find the rhythm that had underpinned their domination of the latter stages of the first half.

Armstrong was booked for a late challenge on Comley after an hour, with Craig Conway replacing Lloyd soon afterwards.

In the 63rd minute Armstrong cut into the left-hand side of the penalty area before trying a shot that appeared to spin off Tom Eastman’s left-hand on its way wide of the far post. There was a shout for a spot-kick, but that would have been harsh and The Ammies had to content themselves with a corner that came to nothing.

Salford were looking capable of making the breakthrough, although in honesty Gerken had not been forced to work particularly hard. Midway through the second half it looked as if they had pinched the lead after Conway set up Jervis for a cross from the right. The delivery was cleared as far as Towell on the edge of the area and his first-time effort was well saved as Gerken dropped down to his right. Armstrong was on hand to slot the loose ball home but Ammie joy would be short lived as the assistant’s flag was raised.
Armstrong had been marginally offside when Towell hit his shot, and the three points were very much still up for grabs.

Colchester had managed to create very little during the second half, but 19 minutes from time Burgess - in the left-back position – was caught in possession by Norris. A determined challenge from the home striker left his opponent on the turf and he cut into the area before driving a low effort disappointingly wide of the far upright.

That had been a big chance for The U’s and they began to find some attacking momentum in its aftermath. A few minutes later some patient approach play ended with Nouble nudging a pass inside from the right, with Senior hitting an angled effort that cleared the crossbar.

Better from the home side, but they certainly couldn’t afford to relax at the other end of the pitch. Once again they were pressured into relinquishing possession outside their own area, with Jervis passing inside for Towell. It was worth a go, but from 22 yards out and right-of-centre, Towell couldn’t keep the shot down.

Conway had looked lively since coming on and his pass picked out Jervis on the right, 12 yards from the touchline and almost on the edge of the box. There were options in the middle but the Luton loanee elected to shoot, only to screw a low effort yards wide of the far post.

The Ammies weren’t turning possession and decent build-up play into goalscoring chances, and as full-time approached Colchester once again began to apply some pressure.

Within a minute of coming on Theo Robinson tried a low shot from the right-hand angle of the box, and that one zipped narrowly outside the far post. Two more substitutes combined after that as Tom Lapslie’s lofted cross from deep on the right was nodded back to Luke Gambin by Nouble. The winger hit a left-footed half volley from the edge of the box, only for the ball to soar high over the goal.

The U’s went closer 5 minutes from time after Bramall’s pacey run on the left was finished off by a low ball into the 6-yard box. Neal did well to push the delivery away, despite the close attention of Pell, and took a knock for his trouble.

The pressure continued and another high Lapslie delivery from the right dropped into Salford’s penalty area during the penultimate minute of the 90. Neal and Burgess appeared to get in each other’s way and only a last-ditch defensive lunge prevented Pell from poking home from close range.

The arrival of time added on brought no relief for Salford’s defence as Gambin’s turn and darting run to the line on the right was followed by a cross that Neal took at his near post. Next to threaten was Bramall who again pushed forward on the left and his low ball into the middle was moved on by Robinson for Senior whose shot was blocked.

The Ammies were holding on and Gambin crossed from the left in the 3rd of 4 minutes of time added on. Lapslie was the recipient, just beyond the far post and he had two shots blocked in quick succession.

It looked as if Salford had ridden the pressure successfully, but The U’s were awarded a corner right at the death. Bramall delivered from the right, with Nouble getting a touch on for PELL to place a diving header into the net from 6 yards out.

Heartbreak for Salford, elation for Colchester and there was no time left for the visitors to conjure an equalizer.

FULL-TIME: COLCHESTER UNITED 1 SALFORD CITY 0

Defeats a long way from home are, of course, never pleasant but when what would have been a hard-fought point is whipped away so late the knife takes an extra twist.

It might seem obvious to state, but football is about making and taking chances. Salford’s spell of domination yielded a sparse return of goalscoring opportunities. Colchester keeper Gerken had to produce just one good save – from Towell’s effort, just before Armstrong’s disallowed ‘goal’.

For their part, The U’s looked more dangerous when they were on top and right at the end managed to convert one of their openings.

It was tough on Salford to lose so late, yet Colchester will feel that they did enough to deserve their win.

That’s three league games without a goal from open play for The Ammies and that;s a problem that needs to be addressed as the busy Christmas programme approaches.

The supporters who made the trip applauded their team off, and in many ways, this was a creditable performance. The addition of a cutting edge is now the immediate challenge.

Anyone for the next trip to Essex ?

Attendance: 3,713 (121 Salford City)

https://salfordcityfc.co.uk