Town: Joe Anyon, Jermaine Grandison (Iorfa, 79), Joe Jacobson (Taylor, 65), Ryan Woods, Connor Goldson, Tamika Mkandawire (c), Sam Foley, Asa Hall, Paul Parry, Joseph Mills, Tom Eaves (Atajic, 63)
Subs not used: Chris Weale, Dave Winfield, Dave McAllister
Colchester United: Sam Walker, Ryan Dickson, Magnus Okuonghae, Sanchez Watt, Marcus Bean (Wright, 81), Jabo Ibehre (Bonne, 86), Tom Eastman, Brian Wilson, Gavin Massey, Alex Gilbey, Dominic Vose (Eastmond, 75)
Subs not used: Mark Cousins, Clinton Morrison, Alie Sesay, Sammie Szmodics
Referee: G. Sutton
Assistants: D. Bushell & N. Kinseley
Fourth Official: I. Cooper
Attendance: 2,508 (139 from Shrewsbury)
Martin Wild reports from Weston Homes Community Stadium
Jabo Ibehre’s strike 11 minutes into the second half was enough to condemn Shrewsbury to a damaging defeat at relegation rivals Colchester. Town boss Mike Jackson had said in his post-match interview at Wolves that he was concerned about recovery – such were his side’s gargantuan efforts at the weekend. And so it proved at the Weston Homes Community Stadium as they pulled up short in this crunch clash.
Jackson was forced into a change with Miles Storey’s loan period ending at the weekend. Tom Eaves was recalled up top after a half hour run out at Molineux, and Paul Parry also returned to the starting XI with Dave McAllister taking a well earned rest and dropping down to the subs bench. Also amongst the subs was young Dominic Iorfa – a defender brought in on loan from Wolves earlier today.
There was a very sparse crowd inside the stadium for this rearranged clash with around 150 hardy souls having made the trip down from Shropshire. It was a far cry from the 24,000 plus packed into Wolves’ fine stadium at the weekend.
Unquestionably, they should have seen their side go ahead on seven minutes. A mistake by Ryan Dickson let Jermaine Grandison get in behind and he delivered an inch perfect cross for an unmarked Tom Eaves around 10 yards out. Eaves should have given an exposed Sam Walker in the U’s goal no chance but somehow he headed over. All the power was on the cross and it only required simple direction to convert. Golden opportunities seldom come with more gold on them and didn’t boss Jackson know it just in front of us. This one was gift wrapped with a massive ribbon on it and Jackson’s reaction in the technical area said it all.
Minutes later Eaves did force Walker into a save low to his left when he sent in a low angled shot as Town continued to threaten.
In Colchester’s first goalbound effort, Tamika Mkandawire made an outstanding block to repel Ibehre’s well directed shot, which led to a well defended United corner.
There wasn’t much between the sides in a cagey affair but Town had an almighty scare when they conceded a dangerous free kick, with Sanchez Watt felled right on the edge of the ‘D’ after 25 minutes. Joe Anyon assembled a five man wall but this proved no barrier as Brian Wilson curled a superb free kick over it, only to see the ball thunder against the underside of the crossbar. It was a brilliant effort and Joe Jacobson would have felt mightily relieved having fouled Watt to give away the set piece.
Anyon flapped at another Colchester corner but Town got lucky again as no one in a blue and white jersey could punish the error. And by now, late into the half, the hosts were having the better of the play with Shrews’ creativity largely unseen since the opening ten minutes.
Five minutes before the break the woodwork came to Town’s rescue for a second time, with Dominic Vose firing onto the top of the bar from nigh on 30 yards with Anyon once again beaten all ends up. The Essex side would feel justifiably aggrieved not to hold a half time advantage.
They might have gone in behind too when Parry’s 44th minute free-kick was pushed away by Walker, with Connor Goldson denied at the rebound by a committed defender’s challenge.
Half Time: Colchester United 0 Town 0
Colchester continued to dominate the opening moments of the second half and the vital breakthrough came on 56 minutes. Ibehre twisted away from his marker inside the box to create some space and leathered the ball past Anyon and into the far corner. Town had looked tired throughout much of this match which is what Jackson feared after the energies expended at Molineux. The home side’s tails were up and you sensed a massive task ahead for Salop in this vital six-pointer.
It needed a change. Eaves was having a horrid evening and hadn’t looked like he’d recovered from that earlier miss with confidence looking like an issue for the lad. On 63 minutes he was replaced by Bahrudin Atajic and Jon Taylor would soon be introduced with Jacobson the man to make way. In open play Shrewsbury had been virtually invisible for the best part of an hour and with draws not particularly on the wish list, you wondered where one goal might come from, let alone two.
Parry got to the byline and put in a teasing cross but you rarely see a Town shirt timing a run perfectly to get on the end of it these days. Tonight was no exception and the (rare) chance had gone.
Colchester were nothing special but they were largely in control and Walker had barely had anything to do since half time. Atajic fired a weak free kick straight at the U’s keeper with 15 minutes to play and Iorfa got a brief run out with Jermaine Grandison withdrawn. The defender who loves to stride forward had barely crossed the halfway line all evening and you had to point to fatigue as the principal reason.
To be fair, Town got a number of reasonable crosses into the U’s box but time and again the home defenders cleared under little or no pressure.
Four minutes of added time came and went and Colchester easily saw the game out to bank three priceless points and leave Shrews in deep trouble.
Full Time: Colchester United 1 Town 0