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Colchester United 1-2 Bradford City
The threat of relegation looms large over Colchester United as Bradford City took the points at the JobServe and extended the U’s winless Sky Bet League Two sequence to seven matches.
Despite a share of the spoils with promotion-chasing Tranmere Rovers during the week, a wretched run of one win in twenty-one outings ensured nerves remained very much on edge in North Essex.
Visitors, Bradford City arrived without a win in five but they spectacularly took the read. U’s failed to clear – Kian Scales superbly finding the top corner with an angled effort from the edge of the box.
The anxiety amongst the Colchester ranks was visible. Frank Nouble’s toil was honest but without its usual purpose, while Jevani Brown fired a glorious opportunity over the top as the hosts floundered for a foothold.
Skipper Harry Pell scuffed wide after Nouble had hurried down the left and picked him out. But when Brown’s flighted free-kick picked out the Frenchman, his cushioned header brought the U’s level three minutes before the interval.
Pell was unable to reach Brown’s low centre as Colchester started the second period brightly, but far from fluent. But they were to be undone again shortly before the hour – Andy Cook heading home at the far post after Clayton Donaldson had expertly picked him out.
Having appeared in the ascendancy ahead of the break, the goal highlighted Colchester’s questionable concentration levels and frail confidence. Pell sent a glorious chance into the stand – Scales thumped the bar as Bradford looked to kill the contest.
Substitute Tom Lapslie was blocked, while Noah Chilvers fired wide as Colchester became frantic. Bradford content to defend in numbers, frustrate and gamble on the break – Josh Doherty clearing off the line to deny Jordan Stevens in stoppage-time.
With Southend winning at Harrogate, Colchester’s advantage over the bottom two has been reduced to four points ahead of the busy Easter programme. The U’s return to Sky Bet League Two action on Friday, April 2 when they face Bolton Wanderers at the University of Bolton Stadium (1pm).
Colchester United: Dean Gerken, Tommy Smith, Courtney Senior, Harry Pell, Jevani Brown (Paris Cowan-Hall 83’), Tom Eastman, Ryan Clampin (Josh Doherty 55’), Brendan Sarpong-Wiredu (Noah Chilvers 83’), Ben Stevenson (Tom Lapslie 62’), Junior Tchamadeu, Frank Nouble Subs not used: Shamal George, Miles Welch-Hayes, Tom Lapslie, Michael Folivi
Goals: Frank Nouble 42’
Bradford City: Richard O’Donnell, Paudie O’Connor, Niall Canavan, Anthony O’Connor, Clayton Donaldson (Matty Foulds 89’, Gareth Evans, Levi Sutton, Connor Wood, Finn Cousin-Dawson (Elliott Watt 62’), Kian Scales (Jordan Stevens 89’), Andy Cook (Danny Rowe 78’) Subs not used: Sam Hornby, Rumarn Burrell, Connor Shanks
Booked: Kian Scales (foul)
Goals: Kian Scales 10’, Andy Cook 58’
Referee: Graham Salisbury
Assistants: Leigh Crowhurst and Stephen Finch
Fourth Official: Brett Huxtable