U's dumped out of the FA Cup by Preston.

AN embarrassing second half capitulation saw Colchester United thrashed by managerless Preston and unceremoniously dumped out of the FA Cup.The Championship side - who sacked Alan Irvine in the week - led by just two goals at the break, but ran away with the game all to easily after the interval.

Stuart Watson

AN embarrassing second half capitulation saw Colchester United thrashed by managerless Preston and unceremoniously dumped out of the FA Cup.

The Championship side - who sacked Alan Irvine in the week - led by just two goals at the break, but ran away with the game all to easily after the interval.

After Chris Brown's header and Chris Sedgwick's deflected first half goals, Jon Parkin grabbed a 23 minute hat-trick following the restart.

The burly striker scored in the 48th, 50th and 71st minute as Preston time and again cut through the visiting defence with ease.

In between those strikes, Ben Williams scored an own goal as Brown's shot cannoned in off the back of his head, while Darren Carter waltzed through to add his name to the score sheet.

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U's boss Aidy Boothroyd vowed to play his strongest possible team ahead of this match against Championship opposition, but made three changes to the side which beat Southampton at the start of the week.

Ipswich Town boss Roy Keane made Kevin Lisbie available to Colchester for this match, but Boothroyd elected to leave his departing loanee at home.

He was replaced up front by Kayode Odejayi, whose loan move was made permanent on New Year's Day, while John-Joe O'Toole (suspended) and Kemi Izzet made way for David Fox and Simon Hackney.

Preston fans protested strongly at the surprise midweek sacking of manager Alan Irvine before kick-off. Assistant Rob Kelly stepped into the hot seat and promptly made four changes to the team which lost to Sheffield United recently.

Colchester enjoyed an assured start to the match but fell behind after 13 minutes when Ross Wallace's in-swinging corner from the right was headed home by striker Chris Brown.

Preston grew in confidence as the half wore on and, after Jon Parkin blazed over the bar from a good position, they doubled their lead in fortuitous circumstances after 27 minutes. Chris Sedgwick's low shot from just inside the area looped up off Marc Tierney's leg and over Ben Williams. The ball seemed to drop over the keeper's head in slow motion as skipper Magnus Okuonghae just watched it spin into the net.

Colchester received another blow moments later when John White landed awkwardly following a challenge and had to be substituted. Boothroyd moved Phil Ifil to right-back and put substitute Joel Thomas on the right-wing.

Left-winger Wallace continued to be the U's tormentor and it was another one his wicked corners which caused havoc just before the break as Paul Reid headed off the line.

Colchester needed to raise their game badly after the break - instead they spectacularly collapsed by conceding three goals within the opening seven minutes of the half.

First, after 48 minutes, Brown was left unmarked to flick on a long ball before Parkin all too easily turned Okuonghae on the edge of the box before firing under Williams.

Two minutes later the score became 4-0 when Parkin turned Reid before cleverly lobbing the onrushing Williams for a fine goal.

And it became worse for the shell-shocked U's in the 52nd minute when Brown's shot from just inside the box cannoned back off the near post, hit the back of the diving Williams and ended up in the back of the net for goal number five.

The introduction of Izzet for Hackney steadied the ship for a brief period, but five soon became six in the 63rd minute when Thomas gave away possession before Darren Carter waltzed through the U's defence and slid home.

The embarrassing capitulation continued in the 71st minute when Parkin completed his 23 minute hat-trick. The striker was felled in the area by Reid and he dusted himself off to send Williams the wrong way from the spot.

Preston boss Kelly promptly changed both his strikers after the seventh goal and Preston enjoyed a comfortable finish to the match.