Two goal lead surrendered by U's

COLCHESTER United surrendered a two-goal lead at rock-bottom Stockport following a negative second half display.The U's looked like they would run away with this game after racing into a two goal lead after just 18 minutes.

Stuart Watson

COLCHESTER United surrendered a two-goal lead at rock-bottom Stockport following a negative second half display.

The U's looked like they would run away with this game after racing into a two goal lead after just 18 minutes.

After home keeper Owain Fon Williams inexplicably dropped the ball into his own net after 10 minutes, Anthony Wordsworth doubled the advantage with a deflected shot.

Stockport came storming back though and, after missing two guilt edged chances, they halved the deficit when former Southend loanee Jabo Ibehre tapped home in the 22nd minute.

Colchester switched to a defensive formation in the second half as they attempted to protect their fragile lead and they were duly punished in the 77th minute when Ibehre capitalised on a defensive mistake from Matt Heath to smash home.

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The U's almost got out of jail with two minutes to go when Wordsworth's long range shot appeared to come down over the line after hitting the underside of the bar, but the referee waved away strong protests.

U's boss Aidy Boothroyd named an unchanged side from the one that beat Southend 2-0 on Monday night.

There was a place on the bench for Paul Reid following his recovery from a calf strain, but on-loan right-back Christian Ribeiro was not passed fit enough to play any part against the club he spent some time on loan at earlier in the season.

Stockport boss Gary Ablett made three changes from the side which lost 3-1 at home to MK Dons last weekend, loanee David Perkins being one of the trio to make way due to the fact he was ineligible to face his parent club.

The U's were gifted the lead after 10 minutes thanks to an inexplicable blunder from home keeper Owain Fon Williams.

David Prutton was almost on the halfway line when he lumped a free-kick into the box from wide on the left. At first Fon Williams - who had made super save from John-Joe O'Toole just moments earlier - appeared to have caught the ball cleanly, however, it somehow squirmed out of his grasp and into the net.

Prutton almost looked embarrassed to celebrate.

Rock-bottom Stockport, who came into this game without a win in 16, could have folded. Instead they fought back.

The Hatters should have been level after 15 minutes when George Donnelly shrugged off the attentions of Matt Heath all too easily in the box. It left the powerful striker with all the time in the world to beat Ben Williams one-on-one, but his shot smashed against the base of the left-hand post.

Colchester doubled their advantage three minutes later and once again it was in fortuitous circumstances. Anthony Wordsworth received Prutton's short corner just inside the area and his shot through a crowd of players deflected into the top right corner.

The hosts looked like they would fold at this point and only a fine one-handed save from Fon Williams denied Odejayi making it three after bursting through.

To their credit, the Hatters once again hit back however they must have thought it wasn't to be their day in the 20th minute when Jabo Ibehre missed a glorious chance. U's keeper Williams and defender Heath collided when going for the same ball on the edge of the area, the ball ran loose to Ibehre, but amazingly he hit the side-netting with the open goal at his mercy.

Colchester didn't learn from let-off and eventually conceded two minutes later. The impressive Donnelly bullied his way through to goal and, after his shot was well-saved by Williams' legs, Ibehre tapped home the rebound. This time he simply couldn't miss.

The U's defence continued to look shaky after the break and they were fortunate not to conceeded an equaliser after 48 minutes. Okuonghae ducked under a long ball forward to allow Ibehre through one-one, but the on-loan MK Dons forward shot over from a difficult, if not impossible, angle.

Stockport continued to pose more of the attacking threat in the second half without carving out any real clear-cut chances.

As a result, U's boss Boothroyd made a defensive substitution with over 20 minutes to go when he brought on Ian Henderson for Clive Platt and switched to a 4-1-4-1 formation.

That defensive manoeuvre simply invited more home pressure and they were eventually punished in the 77th minute when a long free-kick was badly misjudged by Matt Heath to leave Ibehre with the simple task of completing his brace from six yards.

Colchester looked like they had got out of jail with two minutes to go, but the referee controversially ruled that Wordsworth's effort had not crossed the line.