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Colchester United 1-2 Morecambe
Colchester United slipped out of the top seven after impressive Morecambe inflicted a damaging fifth Sky Bet League Town defeat upon Steve Ball’s out of sorts side.
Ball made four changes to the side which had slipped to a midweek defeat at Cambridge United – including 16-year-old Junior Tchamadeu – who was handed his second start in the league.
Following incidents of booing while the players ‘took the knee’ during Colchester’s last home match with Grimsby Town two weeks ago – the crowd, numbering 1,094, applauded the gesture – responding to the calls of Chairman, Robbie Cowling.
But it was the direct approach of the visitors which drew early dividends. John O’Sullivan’s vicious volley eluded Dean Gerken and whistled high into the net – this after the U’s had failed to deal with Aaron Wildig’s flag-kick.
Cole Stockton drove into the side netting as Morecambe looked to build on their solid start. However, when Stockton was called upon to defend a Cohen Bramall free-kick – the unlucky Shrimps man could only deflect beyond goalkeeper, Mark Halstead, to bring Colchester level.
But it was the visitors who continued to look the more likely. Wildig’s shot was saved by Gerken – Carlos Mendes Gomes stuck an upright following up.
Stockton became the second Morecambe player to hit the post – this after substitute, Toumani Diagouraga, had played him in with a clever reverse pass immediately after the restart. Then Gerken kept Colchester in it, brilliantly turning aside Stockton’s powerful header, then using his feet to thwart the same man who was clearly keen to make up for his earlier error.
Bramall tested Halstead’s resolve as the U’s finally offered a viable threat of their own. But Colchester’s anxious performance was filtering through to the stands – the home support unimpressed with their sides lack of urgency and ideas.
A triple-substitution saw Ball throw Luke Norris, Kwame Poku and Miles Welch-Hayes into the fray. But Morecambe’s response was to reestablish their earlier advantage – Yann Songo’o arriving at the far post to finish after Diagouraga had nodded on Wildig’s flag-kick.
Gerken again saved from Stockton as the pair continued their fascinating duel. Halstead clawed out from Norris while Tom Eastman sent an angled attempt across the face of goal as the U’s stepped up their own efforts, albeit liberally.
But there was little disputing that Morecambe had done more than enough to record their ninth victory of the campaign, pushing Colchester out of the play-off places in the process.
This time, the disgruntled home crowd reserved the boos for the full-time whistle. Colchester United return to Sky Bet League Two action on Saturday, December 26, when they take on Southend United at Roots Hall Stadium (1pm).
Colchester United: Dean Gerken, Cohen Bramall, Tommy Smith, Courtney Senior, Jevani Brown (Luke Norris 59’), Callum Harriott (Kwama Poku 59’), Noah Chilvers (Luke Gambin 66’), Tom Eastman, Ben Stevenson, Junior Tchamadeu (Miles Welch-Hayes 59’), Michael Folivi Subs not used: Shamal George (GK), Omar Sowunmi, Ryan Clampin
Goals: Cole Stockton (own-goal) 23’
Morecambe: Mark Halstead, Stephen Hendrie, Sam Lavelle, Harry Davis, Cole Stockton, Aaron Wildig (Liam Gibson 90+1’), Carlos Mendes Gomes, John O’Sullivan (Alex Kenyon 90+1’), Adam Phillips (Toumani Diagouraga 46’), Ryan Cooney, Yann Songo’o Subs not used: Jake Turner (GK), Nathaniel Knight-Percival, A-Jay Leitch-Smith, Liam McAlinden
Booked: Ryan Cooney (foul), Carlos Mendes Gomes (dissent)
Goals: John O’Sullivan 8’, Yann Songo’o 60’
Referee: Sam Allison
Assistants: Damith Bandara and Andrew Aylott
Fourth Official: Sam Purkiss