Fourth successive home wins for U's

Colchester United 2 Walsall 1A KEVIN Lisbie brace saw Colchester record their fourth successive home win and move back into third place in the table.

Stuart Watson

Colchester United 2 Walsall 1

A KEVIN Lisbie brace saw Colchester record their fourth successive home win and move back into third place in the table.

The Ipswich loanee diverted Clive Platt's long-range volley into the net to give the U's the lead in the 26th minute, but Walsall equalised just over a minute later when Darren Byfield ran clear and fired into the roof of the net.

The U's - now unbeaten in nine league games - looked shaky at the back in the first half against a confident Saddlers side.

But they improved significantly after the break and deservedly found a winner when Lisbie netted from the spot following Mark Hughes foul on debutant Josh Payne.

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U's boss Aidy Boothroyd made two enforced changes to the side which had started the previous four games in succession. Matt Lockwood replaced the suspended Marc Tierney at left-back, while 18-year-old Josh Payne - who arrived on loan from West Ham during the week - replaced flu sufferer Kem Izzet in defensive midfield.

Walsall counterpart Chris Hutchings was forced to make three enforced changes to the side which beat Exeter 3-0 last week. Clayton Ince replaced injured keeper Rene Gilmartin, Jamie Vincent, having injured himself in the warm-up, came out for Netan Sansara, while Peter Till replaced the ill Steve Jones.

Walsall created a great opening in the eighth minute when midfielder Mark Bradley headed across goal and just wide after Till's run and cross from the right.

John White's long throws were looking dangerous though and - having created a good chance for Anthony Wordsworth in the opening minute via one - it was from another of these that Kayode Odejayi had a smart finish disallowed for offside following Kevin Lisbie's knock down.

Colchester took the lead in the 26th minute in route one circumstances. Ben Williams' long kick was contested by Odejayi and, when it dropped, Clive Platt struck a sweet volley from outside the box towards the bottom left corner. The ball was probably heading in, but Lisbie stuck out a foot from six yards just to make sure.

The lead last just over a minute however as Walsall equalised in similar circumstances. A long ball from the back was helped forward in midfield by Mark Bradley and striker Darren Byfield raced on before firing into the roof of the net.

Walsall looked the far more confident after the goals and it required a big block from White in the box to prevent Troy Deeney scoring not long before the break.

It was the shakiest Colchester's defence has looked under Boothroyd and the U's boss sent his side out early for the second half where they held an in-depth on pitch discussion ahead of the restart.

Wordsworth's in-swinging free-kick from the right whipped just past the far post soon after the break after Lisbie's direct running had drawn a foul.

But the U's frailty at the back was exposed again moments later when Byfield beat Lockwood for pace, Dwayne Mattis crossed from the right and Matt Richards fired over after beating Williams to the ball.

Colchester seemed to be awoken by the let off and created two good chances straight away. First Odejayi hit a tame shot straight at the keeper after creating great space for himself in the box, before Lisbie's powerful volley stung the hands of keeper Ince.

Wordsworth then, for the second time in the match, almost scored direct from a set piece when his in-swinging corner from the right beat everyone and bounced inches past the far post.

The much-improved U's took the lead in the 61st minute courtesy of a Lisbie spot-kick. Loanee Payne was needlessly brought down in the area by Mark Hughes and Lisbie coolly fired into the bottom left corner.

The moved leading up to the spot-kick had started with a fine tackle by Platt in his own half, while Lisbie's clever through ball had supplied Payne with the ball.

The West Ham teenager was heading away from goal but Hughes needlessly jumped in to concede the penalty.

With the U's now well on top, Platt had a goal disallowed moments later. Odejayi jumped with keeper Ince and, after the ball was spilt, the Midlander tapped home. The referee, however, judged that there had been a foul and the target man was denied a goal against one of his former clubs.

Boothroyd made changes with his side in front, bringing on Phil Ifil and Simon Hackney for Lockwood and Payne respectively. Ifil went to right-back, with White switching to the left, while Wordsworth moved into the middle so that Hackney could play wide left.

Walsall had offered very little in the second half, but the fragility of Colchester's one goal lead was shown in the 73rd minute when Williams was forced into a good save to stop Richards' fierce long-range drive.

At the other end, Odejayi fired wide from a glorious unmarked position but his blushes were spared by the linesman's flag.

Steven Gillespie replaced the impressive Clive Platt with 10 minutes to go and he once again looked lively, smashing the near post with an angled shot late on.

Walsall put some pressure on in stoppage time, but Williams did well at a corner kick as the U's recorded their fourth successive home win.

Colchester: Ben Williams 7, John White 6, Matt Lockwood 6 (Phil Ifil 63 - 6), Magnus Okuonghae 6, Danny Batth 6, Kevin Lisbie 7, Anthony Wordsworth 6, Josh Payne 6 (Simon Hackney 70 - 6), John-Joe O'Toole 6, Clive Platt 7 (Steven Gillespie 81 - 6), Kayode Odejayi 7.

Unused Subs: Mark Cousins, Alan Maybury, David Fox, Joel Thomas.

Walsall: Clayton Ince 6, Rys Weston 6, Netan Sansara 6, Mark Hughes 6, Manny Smith 6, Peter Till 6, Matt Richards 6, Dwayne Mattis 6, Mark Bradley 7, Darren Byfield 7 (Alex Nicholls 78 - 6), Troy Deeney 6.

Unused Subs: Jamie Vincent, Josh O'Keefe, Darryl Westlake, Will Grigg, Clayton McDonald, Mark Oxley.

Booked: Deeney (76).

Man-of-the-Match: Clive Platt.

Attendance: 4,880.

Referee: Mr R East.

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