U's Win Again At Pompey
It was back-to-back wins for the U's on the south coast this afternoon as a brace from Gavin Massey and a third goal in three games for Freddie Sears saw the U's run out 3-2 victors at struggling Portsmouth.
In an electric first half, the U's ran Pompey ragged at the back with the trio of Sears, Massey and George Porter causing all kinds of problems for the hosts' backline, and the U's found themselves 3-1 up at the break and wondering how it wasn't more.
However, Guy Whittingham's men rallied after the break and sustained a half of pressure on the U's back line, even pulling a second back when the U's should really have already killed the game off.
It wasn't to be for Pompey though as the U's picked up their third away win of the season, having already won at both Swindon and Leyton Orient in the early days of Joe Dunne's tenure.
U's boss Joe Dunne made two changes to his starting line up following last weekend's 2-0 win over Walsall, with both Freddie Sears and George Porter starting for the visitors after making such a significant impact last week.
Backed by just under 500 away fans, the game got off to an enthralling start with two goals in the opening five minutes, and it was the U's who took first blood with those changes reaping immediate rewards.
Sears burst through into the Pompey half before his ball across goal found GAVIN MASSEY as the only player in the home box, and Massey scored with an easy finish as he sidefooted the ball home to put the U's ahead.
The lead only brought short-lived joy for the visitng supporters though as, just minutes later up the other end, poor defending from Joe Dunne's side at a corner left JED WALLACE to head home beyond Sam Walker in the U's goal and level the scores up.
It was disappointing for the U's to be set back so soon after taking the lead, but the game was already looking like opening up on a heavy pitch, and Jabo Ibehre was next to go close a couple of times for the U's.
Joe Dunne's side didn't take long to next find the net though, and it was Freddie Sears again who linked up with Gavin Massey to cause havoc in the Pompey box, with Massey playing in the former West Ham man who was tripped up on the byline for a penalty.
SEARS dusted himself off to take the twelve-yard shot and simply side foot it beyond Eastwood in the home goal, sending him the wrong way to restore the U's lead before enjoying it in front of the home end who would go on to boo him for the remainder of the half.
The U's continued to pressure their struggling hosts, with the next close shave coming minutes afterwards with Billy Clifford's free kick chipped into the box and just missing Okuonghae's head - any touch would have seen it in.
It was another close effort for Colchester moments later with Sears, again, breaking away with pace to the boos of the home fans, linking up with Ibehre whose cross was put only slightly wide by Massey. But it didn't go wrong the next time though for the duo.
Pompey were struggling to contain Sears and, once more, as the ball broke to MASSEY his shot from the edge of the box was deflected and found its way beyond Eastwood in the home goal for the fourth goal in the opening twenty minutes.
The U's were tearing the home defence apart and ought to have bagged a fourth just moments later, with Ibehre just a whisker away from touching the ball home before seeing it hooked away from him, with Massey also eyeing up a first half hat-trick just yards away.
The hosts made an early substitution with Gyepes replacing Rocha at the back within the opening half an hour, indicating the disarray that had surrounded their defence until that point.
Gavin Massey ought to have bagged his hat-trick after half an hour, as a ball over the top saw George Porter burst beyond the home defence with both Sears and Massey either side of him. Arguably the Burnley loanee should have opted to lay off for Sears, but instead he played through Massey who fired his effort over the bar.
It was electric stuff from the visiting U's though, with the attacking intent ripping the Pompey defence apart time and time again who were susceptible to mistakes all over the place.
Pompey had their first sight of goal for a while after thirty-six minutes, but Ashley Harris merely saw his effort from the edge of the box bobble wide without threatening Walker after Thompson had headed clear.
Ibehre had another great chance to kill off the game minutes before the break, as a long ball over the top saw the former MK Dons man get the wrong side of Sodje and bear down on goal. However, just as the powerful front man was set to shoot for the U's, Sodje did just enough to put him off and avoid Pompey conceding a fourth.
That was to prove the final action for the U's in a lively first half, as Joe Dunne's men completed an exciting performance to take a 3-1 lead in with them at the break which could easily have been five or six.
Liam Walker came on for the hosts in the only change at the break, and Pompey almost pulled another goal back straight afterwards. Josh Thompson and Sam Walker found themselves caught up in a mess as the big centre-half nodded past his own goalkeeper, but managed to get back and hook it clear off the line in the nick of time.
It was a period of sustained pressure on the U's defence to begin the second half, and Cooper fired over for the hosts after Harris' shot had been charged down by the visiting defence, with Butler causing problems out wide.
The U's were really in need of getting their foot on the ball as they struggled to regain any sort of possession in the opening twenty minutes of the final forty-five.
A frustrating opportunity almost opened up for Joe Dunne's men just after an hour, as George Porter burst through and Ibehre held his run to beat the offside trap. Unfortunately, Porter waited too long and Ibehre was flagged offside.
Ertl was then allowed to pick the ball up in his own half and run most of the length of the pitch, before the attack, fortunately for the U's, fizzled out a little and was headed clear by Brian Wilson.
Sodje was next to go close for the hosts as his header sailed beyond everyone and wide of the U's goal after a free kick was floated in, with Josh Thompson waiting on the sidelines to return having been received treatment.
As the second half developed further, the U's continued to struggle to get their foot on the ball and the hosts were still applying the pressure, forcing Joe Dunne into making his first change with the livewire Freddie Sears being replaced by Marcus Bean who could look to break up the play and slow things down in the U's favour.
But within a minute, Pompey brought the game back to life as JAMES KEENE fired an unstoppable shot beyond Walker having latched onto a ball slotted beyond Josh Thompson in the U's back four.
Despite being in a position to have put the game beyond doubt, the hosts' dominance in the second half had finally taken its toll and the fifth goal of the game fired warning signs to Joe Dunne's men that their work was far from done for the afternoon, with seventeen minutes remaining.
The game had completely turned on its head, with the U's dominance of the opening forty-five minutes being matched by their hosts in the second.
Having put on a performance of fine attacking football to tear Pompey apart, Joe Dunne's side had struggled to get hold of the ball in the second forty-five and were struggling to resist the onrushing wave of attacks on their own back line.
Two-goal leads had previously been thrown away at both Shrewsbury and Crewe for two away games running earlier in the season with the U's picking up just one point from those two games, and it was imperative that a similar outcome was avoided on this occasion.
George Porter was the first U's player to go into the referee's book after making a rash challenge on Butler having lost possession on the edge of the Pompey box, hopefully not an indication of the U's becoming frustrated with the lack of possession.
Marcus Bean then also saw yellow as he wiped out Jed Wallace on the wing who had already skipped past a couple of U's players, with the home crowd starting to really get behind their team as the pressure continued to mount.
The resulting free kick from Harris was curling into the U's far corner before Walker managed to get a hand to palm it off for a corner, but the U's were able to hack the ball away with Massey and Porter, ultimately ending up with a goal kick for Portsmouth.
That was Porter's final action in the game, with young Drey Wright replacing the loanee for a fresh pair of legs. Wright was immediately called into action as he latched onto a ball from Bean, winning a throw in deep into the home half.
The introduction of the seventeen-year old as the game entered the final ten minutes was to try and exploit any spaces left by Pompey who were attacking to get something from the game, and he was again involved in a move that ended with David Wright seeing his effort fail to trouble the home goal.
With five minutes to go Joe Dunne made his third and final change of the game, with Andy Bond coming on to replace Billy Clifford in the middle of the park for the U's.
Ibehre used his experience to buy the U's some time by winning a free kick on the edge of the Pompey box with less than two minutes of normal to go, earning the chance to reorganise the team.
Wilson put a ball into the box from the free kick but it was soon hurtling towards the U's box as Pompey brought it forward on the break. But the moment of end-to-end football continued to swing, with Ibehre powering beyond Sodje to the byline and pulling it back for Massey only for the two-goal hero to fire over the bar.
Even though the U's ought to have been home and dry, with six minutes of additional time indicated, they were instead biting their fingernails to hold on to their three points under sustained pressure from the hosts.
Jabo Ibehre was in the thick of the action throughout the six minutes for the U's as Joe Dunne's men were able to hold on for a huge three points, defending valiantly against the home pressure and seeing out the game.
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