Hat-trick boost for Gillespie

STEVEN Gillespie further staked his claim for a Colchester United starting place by firing in a first half hat-trick for the reserves yesterday.

Stuart Watson

By Stuart Watson

STEVEN Gillespie further staked his claim for a Colchester United starting place by firing in a first half hat-trick for the reserves yesterday.

The striker took just 24 minutes to register his trio of strikes against Blue Square South side Grays Athletic as the U's ran out comfortable 5-1 winners.

With his work done, reserve team boss Joe Dunne withdrew Gillespie at the break as the club continue to ease him back into action following the latest in a long line of injury setbacks.

Medy Elito and David Fox then grabbed early second half goals to wrap up the win.

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With no Totesport.com Combination Reserve League fixture this week, this friendly match was specially arranged was a chance for U's boss Aidy Boothroyd to put some of his fringe players in the shop window and new Grays boss Julian Dicks the chance to experiment with his side.

Boothroyd officially Scott Vernon, Alan Maybury, Matt Lockwood, Sam Corcoran and Russell Malton up for loan yesterday as he looks to trim his large squad.

A circular was sent out to all Football League clubs to inform them of this and, as a result, a number of scouts were at the Weston Homes Community Stadium yesterday.

Meanwhile, striker Jamie Guy has joined League Two club Port Vale on a three-month loan deal.

A huge positive was the return of long-term absentee Paul Reid who came on as a 57th minute substitute. It was the first time the defender has featured in a Colchester shirt since he dislocated a knee against Huddersfield in March.

The U's also handed a debut to trailist midfielder Craig Rocastle. The 28-year-old has most recently been plying his trade with non-league side Dover Athletic, but began his career at Chelsea.

Having played at Sheffield Wednesday, Oldham and Port Vale, Rocastle spent a year playing for Thrasivoulos Filis in the Greek Super League, but returned this summer in an attempt to resurrect his career on home soil.

Craig - the cousin of the late England and Arsenal defender David Rocastle - is of Granadian and Trinidadian descent. He already has experience of helping a side get promoted to the Championship after being part of the Wednesday side that won the League One play-offs in 2005.

Colchester Reserves: Cousins, Maybury, Lockwood, Heath, Bender (Reid 57), Ifil, Fox (Corcoran 57), Rocastle, Hackney (Malton), Vernon, Gillespie (Elito 46).

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