Colchester United 2-1 Walsall
Colchester United took a huge step towards Sky Bet League Two safety after dramatically coming from behind to beat Walsall by the odd goal in three at the JobServe Community Stadium
One win in 25 – Grimsby and Southend both making ground – These have been worrying times for the U’s. The dark mood showed little sign of changing when Callum Harriott’s effort came back off an upright and was hacked clear after the former Reading and Charlton man exchanged passes with Michael Folivi.
Back-to-back victories over Forest Green and Tranmere had all but secured Walsall’s League Two status. Emmanuel Osadebe perhaps should have set them on the way – his route goal blocked by Miles Welch-Hayes. But from the resulting flag kick, Caolan Lavery flicked on and James Clarke was on hand to convert the simplest of chances at the far post.
Folivi’s spectacular scissor-kick was a whisker away as Colchester probed for a way back. But Colchester were level seven minutes before the interval. Folivi bundled home after Frank Nouble’s effort had come back off the foot of a post.
Harry Pell and Folivi went close – Colchester’s need not lost on the attacking duo. And on the stroke of half-time, Ryan Clampin’s superb first-time effort fizzed beyond Saddlers stopper, Jack Rose to hand Colchester the lead.
Rose saved Noah Chilvers’ low drive immediately after the restart. The tenacious midfielder then had an effort blocked, while Folivi’s goalbound header was grasped in the nick of time by Rose as the hosts continued to ask the sterner questions.
Meanwhile, Lavery’s attempt was wayward as Walsall finally offered a threat of their own.
Brendan Wiredu should have added a third – blasting over after seizing on some hesitant defending, while Nouble and Folivi were snubbed out as Walsall hung on grimly.
Nouble headed wide in the latter stages, but this had been a much-improved performance from the North Essex outfit, who had played extensively and on the front foot to good effect.
The rare victory edged the U’s six points clear of the dropzone with three to play. They return to Sky Bet League Two action on Tuesday, April 20 when Southend United visit the JobServe Community Stadium (7pm). The U’s face Cheltenham Town at the Jonny-Rocks Stadium on Saturday 24 (3pm).
Colchester United: Shamal George, Miles Welch-Hayes, Tommy Smith, Harry Pell, Callum Harriott (Ben Stevenson 46’), Noah Chilvers (Tom Lapslie 90’), Tom Eastman, Ryan Clampin, Brendan Wiredu (Courtney Senior 77’), Michael Folivi (Jevani Brown 77’), Frank Nouble Subs not used: Dean Gerken (GK), Josh Doherty, Omar Sowunmi
Booked: Harry Pell (foul), Brendan Wiredu (foul), Shamal George (time-wasting)
Goals: Michael Folivi 37’, Ryan Clampin 45+1’
Walsall: Jack Rose, Max Melbourne, Mat Sadler, James Clarke, Liam Kinsella (Alfie Bates 61’), Caolan Lavery, Josh Gordon, Sam Perry, Emmanuel Osadebe (Derrick Osei-Yaw 88’), Hayden White, Tyreik Wright (Wes McDonald 61’) Subs not used: Liam Roberts, Cam Norman, Tom Leak, Joe Willis
Booked: Tyreik Wright (foul)
Goals: James Clarke 20’
Referee: Carl Boyeson
Assistants: Matthew Lee and Andrew Laver
Fourth Official: Gareth Viccars