Colchester United 2 Rushden & Diamonds 0

Match report by Chris Barritt

A twice taken penalty by Scott McGleish and a late blast from Gavin Johnson sent Diamonds perilously close to relegation at Layer Road.

The game was not without controversy with Barry Hunter harshly adjudged to be guilty of two bookable offences and then Leo Roget guilty of handball to give Colchester their first goal.

Diamonds were desperate for points to stay out of the relegation zone and manager Ernie Tippett stuck with a 4 – 4 – 2 formation and he made two changes from the side that lost 2 – 0 at home to Hartlepool last weekend. Paul Kitson replaced the suspended Robert Duffy while David Bell came into midfield in place of Andy Sambrook.

Colchester came into the game on the back of two consecutive victories and just one defeat in 8 matches. They kept the same team that beat Sheffield Wednesday last time out.

Colchester started brightly and in the 6th minute Gareth Williams went close with a snapshot which hit the side netting while three minutes later, Leo Roget was quick to react to Williams’ surging run and his tackle saved a dangerous situation.

On 10 minutes, the visitors won a free kick 35 yards out but Bell’s shot cleared the bar. A minute later Bell missed a glorious chance to give Diamonds the lead. The youngster was all alone on the edge of the penalty area when Kitson’s flick on fell into his path but the resultant shot went well wide.

At the other end, Turley saved Williams short range shot at the second attempt before Joseph Keith curled a left foot shot just wide of the left hand upright.

After 17 minutes, Colchester ‘keeper Simon Brown made an audacious attempt to beat Turley with a clearance from his own penalty area but the ‘shot’ ran out of steam!

Four minutes later, Gavin Johnson’s cross from the left deflected onto the top of the bar and away for a corner and then Rodney Jack sent a 20 yard shot over the bar.

The game became very scrappy for the remainder of the half with little to excite the crowd. Seven minutes from the interval, Williams picked out Keith on the edge of the area but his shot lacked power allowing Turley the chance to get down well and save at full stretch.  

On 49 minutes, Diamonds had another excellent chance to take the lead when Andy Burgess’ free kick was flicked on by Barry Hunter to Jack 12 yards out. The striker rounded the ‘keeper but could only find the side netting from a difficult angle.

Both teams were finding it difficult to string passes together as the game became disjointed. Bobby Bowry tried a speculative long-range shot which failed to trouble Turley while six minutes later. Johnson drilled a cross against the face of the goal leaving Burgess to slice the ball over his own crossbar. 

On 72 minutes, Diamonds were reduced to ten men when Hunter was harshly adjudged to have brought down substitute Wayne Andrews. Worse was to follow when referee Hegley awarded a penalty to the home side on 78 minutes after Hanlon was adjudged to have handled Johnson’s corner. McGleish stepped up to drill the ball into the left hand corner of the net but was then ordered to retake the spot kick following encroachment. McGleish gave Turley no chance by putting the ball into exactly the same corner.

Two minutes from time, Colchester wrapped up the points when Andrews’ cross reached Johnson on the opposite side of the area and he drilled his shot past Turley.

Diamonds: Turley, Edwards, Hunter, Hanlon, Jack, Burgess, Gray, Bell, Kitson, Kelly, Roget

Subs unused: Dempster, Gahan, Sambrook, Story, Talbot

Bookings: Jack 20, Hunter 26, Roget 77

Sent Off:         Hunter 72

Colchester United: Brown, Keith, Johnson, McGleish, Izzet, Bowry, White, Halford, Stockley, Williams (Andrews 63), Brown

Subs unused: Pinault, Cade, Chilvers, McKinney

Bookings:

Diamonds MOM: Turley

Referee:         Mr G.Hegley

Attendance: 4,618

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