|The Laitt Report - Cheltenham 4 U's 3|
Saturday, 11th Oct 2008 17:14
Colchester United blew a 3-1 lead at Whaddon Road against Cheltenham Town as Barry Hayles' 94th minute deflected header capped a remarkable comeback.
United's defensive frailties came to the fore as they blew a 3-1 lead at Whaddon Road this afternoon as Barry Hayles' deflected header left Dean Gerken stranded in the 4th minutes of injury time. Anthony Wordsworth scored twice in the first half to put the U's ahead at the break while Johnnie Jackson made it three soon after the interval. Martin Allen's side recovered with goals from a Kenton, Owusu and a Fleetwood penalty harshly awarded for handball nefore Hayles' late dramatic intervention.
Symons made two changes in his final game in charge as goalkeeper Dean Gerken returned to the starting line-up in place of Mark Cousins. Former Cheltenham Town striker Stephen Gillespie was unable to face his former side for the first time after suffering a recurrence of his hamstring injury so Anthony Wordsworth came in to the side.
For The Robins, they had plenty of experience in veteran's Alan Wright, Scott Murray Lloyd Owusu and Darrn Kenton while former Forest Green Rovers striker Stuart Fleetwood would keep the U's defence on the toes.
United took the lead on 20 minutes through Anthony Wordsworth's first professional goal. In truth, it was a gift as the ball came in to the box and a defender sliced his clearance. Keeper Brown made an excellent save to keep out the ball but Wordsworth was johnny in the box to poke home from just a few yards.
The Robins reply came ten minutes before the break. The U's conceded a corner and from Russell's set piece, a towering header from Darren Kenton sailed over Dean Gerkin and in to the net. The U's almost conceded a second straight away but Gerken saved from Owusu with his legs as the home side piled on the pressure.
That pressure came to nothing though as the U's made it two just a few minutes before the break through Wordsworth again. Platt was the instigator with a powerful run down the right before a clever ball picked out Mark Yeates. The Irishman went past one man before dragging the ball back to Wordsorth who made no mistake.
The advantage was doubled just three minutes after the break though Kenton should perhaps have equalised with an easier header than the one he had opened the Robins account with. United won a corner taken by Jackson and after the initial clearance was returned to him, he powered in a huge gap inside the box and sent a fine shot across Brown and in to the corne of the net.
Cheltenham reduced the arrears just a couple of minutes later though as Gerken failed to get through a group of players and missed his punch. Experienced striker Lloyd Owusu needed no second invitation to give his side a way back in to the game.
And the explosive start to the second half continued as Allen's side got back on level terms within ten minutes of the re-start. Vincent's shot powerfully hit and, according to referee Penn, was stopped by a U's hand. Stuart Fleetwood converted the penalty by sending Gerken the wrong way.
Cheltenham had the wind in their sails now and a few Yeates free-kicks aside, the home looked the more liekely to grab all thre points. With five minutes of injury time to be played (and quite where that came from is unsure with just two substitutions by Cheltenham to consider), Hayles got on to the end of a cross to head towards goal. The ball took a wicked deflection off U's defender Matt Heath which left Gerken stranded as it went in to the unguarded net.
New U's manager Paul Lambert and coach Ian Culverhouse will now be fully aware of the size of the job in front of them when they start work on Monday morning.
Cheltenham: Scott P Brown, Kenton, Townsend (Gallinagh 71), Diallo, Wright, Murray, Wesolowski, Russell, Vincent (Hayles 60), Owusu, Fleetwood.
Subs not used: Perry, Connor, Ridley
Colchester: Gerken, White, Heath, Reid, Borrowdale, Yeates, Hammond, Jackson, Perkins, Wordsworth, Platt.
Subs not used: Cousins, Izzet, Baldwin, Wasiu, Vernon.
Photo: Action Images
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