U's seal win with two second half goals

TWO quick second half goals proved enough for Colchester United to win this heated Boxing Day derby clash.Following an uninspiring first half, Phil Ifil deftly headed home just seconds after the restart to put the U's in front.

Stuart Watson

Southend United 1 Colchester United 2

TWO quick second half goals proved enough for Colchester United to win this heated Boxing Day derby clash.

Following an uninspiring first half, Phil Ifil deftly headed home just seconds after the restart to put the U's in front.


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Colchester took firm control in the 57th minute when Anthony Wordsworth curled home a fine free-kick form the edge of the box, however the U's were then guilty of taking their foot off the gas.

Lee Barnard was left unmarked to head home a 76th minute goal for Southend and the visitors then pushed hard for an equaliser in the closing stages.

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But the U's held on - just as they did two weeks ago at Brighton - to record a second straight away victory and further consolidate their fourth place position in the table.

U's boss Aidy Boothroyd made just one change to the side which beat Brighton away from home over two weeks ago - but it was a significant one. Kevin Lisbie - who is returning to parent club Ipswich Town in the New Year - dropped to the bench and Boothroyd, seemingly preparing for his departure, brought Steven Gillespie into the team for his first league start of the season.

Meanwhile, Southend boss Steve Tilson made two enforced changes to his team. First choice goalkeeper Steve Mildenhall injured his back in training and was replaced by American reserve Ian Joyce, while Jean-Francois Christophe came back into the side following striker Jabo Ibehre's return to Mk Dons.

Those changes meant a major reshuffle for Tilson who moved Anthony Grant our right, Christophe into the middle and Francis Laurent back up front. Scott Malone continued at left-back after his loan move from Wolves was extended during the week.

This Essex derby failed to really ignite in the first half as both sides wasted the few chances they did create.

Gillespie, in acres of space in the box, was guilty of blazing over in the eighth minute, while no Southend player attacked Simon Francis' fine 22nd minute corner.

Malone was forced to clear off the line from Paul Reid following some comedic defending from the hosts after 24 minutes, while at the other end Christophe headed into the side-netting after being left completely unmarked at a corner.

Those chances aside it was a fairly turgid 45 minutes of football and the first period ended in scrappy circumstances as three players - John-Joe O'Toole, Franck Moussa and Reid - were all booked for late challenges.

Colchester broke the deadlock just seconds into the second half. Following Southend's restart, Clive Platt won the ball, slid Gillespie down the left and his cross was deftly headed home by Phil Ifil for his second goal in as many games.

The U's showed far more urgency after the break and duly doubled their advantage in the 57th minute. Anthony Wordsworth drew a foul on the edge of the home side's box and then dusted himself down to curl home a fine free-kick past a six-man wall.

Gillespie pulled up injured following a long chase into the corner in the 64th minute and he was replaced by Lisbie. The U's fans immediately responded with calls to Boothroyd to 'sign him up'.

With his side firmly in control, Boothroyd took the opportunity to hand French striker Joel Thomas a rare chance off the bench as he replaced Platt.

The visitors took their foot off the gas after this and were punished in the 76th minute when impressive right-back Francis crossed for Lee Barnard to head home from close range.

Southend pushed hard for an equaliser but, despite some good possession, they failed to seriously threaten in the closing stages.

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