Rovers inflict more home woe on U's

Colchester United 0 Bristol Rovers 1RICKIE Lambert headed home the only goal of the game early in the second-half to heap more home woe on Colchester United.

Carl Marston

Colchester United 0 Bristol Rovers 1

RICKIE Lambert headed home the only goal of the game early in the second-half to heap more home woe on Colchester United.

Bristol Rovers striker Lambert, the leading scorer in League One, lived up to his pre-match billing by chalking up his ninth goal of the season in the 52nd minute. The U's could find no response.

The warning bells had already sounded a minute before Lambert's winning goal, when Dean Gerken saved from the Bristol striker's header following a corner.

But this warning was not heeded because Lambert was able to head home Stuart Campbell's next corner, to secure Rovers' first away win of the campaign.

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The U's are therefore still waiting to record their first win at their new Weston Homes Community Stadium.

And this result will have seriously dented caretaker manager Kit Symons' chances of landing the job full-time.

The U's new stadium was officially opened before kick-off by Football League chairman Lord Mawhinney, who also unveiled a plaque in the reception area. Lord Mawhinney was the guest of U's Life President Peter Heard.

Lord Mawhinney told the U's home supporters: “I know that Layer Road had an emotional appeal, but quite frankly guys, this is much better!”

Symons selected the same side for the third successive game, following the 4-3 win at Tranmere and the 1-0 home defeat by Leicester City on Tuesday evening. Leading scorer Steven Gillespie was available again after the completion of his three-match suspension, but he had to make do with a place on the substitutes' bench.

The U's dominated possession during the opening exchanges, without creating a clear-cut chance. Mark Yeates beat his marker to send a measured cross into the box on eight minutes, but left-back Aaron Lescott was in the right place to hack to safety.

It was actually Rovers who registered the first goal attempt in the 15th minute. Darrly Duffy robbed David Perkins on the half-way line and teed-up team-mate Chris Lines, who drilled his shot straight at Dean Gerken from 20 yards out.

Only a goal-line clearance from Danny Coles prevented Colchester from taking the lead on 18 minutes. The over-lapping John White floated over a teasing cross for Platt to attack with a looping header that centre-half Coles managed to head away from under his own bar. That had looked a goal all the way.

Rovers were threatening on the break. Duffy was put through by his strike-force partner Rickie Lambert, but was stopped in his tracks by an excellent last ditch challenge from Gary Borrowdale.

At the other end, Perkins made room for himself on the edge of the penalty area before cracking in a shot that keeper Steve Phillips saved low down. This was the U's first shot on target, in the 25th minute.

Rovers opened up the U's defence with the best move of the match so far in the 33rd minute. Leading scorer Lambert controlled Lescott's lay-off and curled in a rising shot that dipped just over the bar.

Ten minutes later and the visitors were denied by a combination of Gerken and the bar. Midfielder Lines connected with a sweet header from Craig Disley's cross, only for Gerken to somehow push the ball onto his bar at point blank range. The U's hastily cleared the rebound.

Yeates had appeals for a penalty turned down in the last minute of the first period. The Irishman appeared to be pushed by David Pipe inside the box while attempting to steer the ball over Phillips. But referee Jarnail Singh was not convinced.

Gerken came to his side's rescue again in the 51st minute. Skipper Campbell delivered a corner to the middle of the penalty area, where Lambert headed goalwards with a stooping effort that Gerken did well to parry.

However, a minute later and Gerken could do nothing about another LAMBERT header as Rovers went 1-0 up. Again it stemmed from a corner by Campbell, which an unmarked Lambert headed firmly home from eight yards out.

U's caretaker manager Symons reacted quickly by introducing substitute Gillespie for midfielder Kem Izzet, to give Platt some more support up front. And shortly afterwards Platt forced keeper Phillips into a save with a header from Borrowdale's delivery.

There was a flurry of bookings when first U's defender Paul Reid and goalscorer Lambert were booked for clashing off the ball in the 56th minute. Rovers winger Disley was also shown a yellow card for a rash challenge on Perkins.

Jackson's deflected shot almost wrong-footed Phillips, although the Bristol keeper was able to change direction in time, while Lines blasted over the bar as Rovers searched for a killer second goal.

Symons made a double substitution in the 66th minute. On came Scott Vernon and Anthony Wordsworth for Platt and Perkins respectively.

John White had been as effective as any of the Colchester players, and the right-back caused a stir with a 25-yard shot that whistled over the bar in the 78th minute.

The U's stepped up the pressure in search of a late equaliser. Yeates had a goalbound shot blocked by Campbell, and then curled a last minute free-kick over the bar.


COLCHESTER UNITED: Gerken 7, WHITE 8, Reid 6, Heath 6, Borrowdale 7, Yeates 6, Izzet 5 (sub Gillespie, 55), Hammond 7, Perkins 6 (sub Wordsworth, 66), Jackson 6, Platt 5 (sub Vernon, 66). Unused subs: Coyne, Cousins.

BRISTOL ROVERS: Phillips 7, Pipe 7, Coles 8, Hinton 7, Lescott 7, Disley 6, Lines 7, Campbell 7, Hughes 6, Duffy 6 (sub Hunt, 81), LAMBERT 8. Unused subs: Jacobson, Anthony, Kuffour, M Green.

Referee: Mr Jarnail Singh (Middlesex)

Attendance: 4,811