Crewe Alexandra 3 Colchester United 2

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COLCHESTER United blew a two-goal half-time lead to suffer a damaging defeat at Crewe Alexandra this afternoon.

Goals from Freddie Sears and Ian Henderson had put the U’s in total control at the interval, but Joe Dunne’s men were over-run during a one-sided second period.

Debutant keeper John Sullivan was beaten three times, by Lauri Dalla Valle (52), Luke Murphy (64, penalty) and Mathias Pogba (74) to complete a memorable turnaround from the Railwaymen.

Following hot on the heels of defeats at Chelmsford City in the FA Cup, and at home to Notts County in midweek, this was a desperately disappointing afternoon for the U’s.

Yet it had all seemed so different during an encouraging first-half display.

Sears handed the U’s the perfect by breaking the deadlock inside three minutes, with his first league goal of the season.

Henderson was the creator, exchanging a one-two with Jabo Ibehre and then crossing low for Sears to sweep home from eight yards out.

Henderson doubled the lead on 29 minutes, thanks to an exquisite lob.

The U’s winger controlled Magnus Okuonghae’s measured long ball, to the right edge of the box, and spotted keeper Alan Martin off his line.

The alert Henderson directed his angled lob over Martin’s head, and into the far corner of the net. It was a slick finish, for his second goal of the season.

Two goals up at the interval, the U’s conceded early in the second period.

The U’s defence was caught napping, with their offside trap sprung, and Sullivan found himself in no man’s land.

Chuks Aneke was in acres of space on the right, and with Sullivan out of position, he squared for a grateful Dalla Valle to slot into an unguarded net.

That goal arrived on 52 minutes, and just 12 minutes later Crewe were level.

The Railwaymen were awarded a penalty, as Okuonghae appeared to block Dalla Valle’s goal-bound shot with his hand.

Okuonghae was booked for handball, and skipper Murphy stepped up to convert the ensuing penalty, even though Sullivan guessed the right way.

Crewe’s comeback was complete in the 74th minute, thanks to Pogba’s close-range header to make it 3-2.

Pogba had the simple task of heading into an empty net from a couple of yards out, following Byron Moore’s delightful lofted cross over Sullivan.

It proved to be the winner.

Squads

CREWE: Martin, Tootle, Davis, Ellis, Robertson, Murphy, Osman, Aneke, Pogba, Dalla Valle, Moore. Unused subs: Dugdale, Turton, Guthrie, Ray, Daniels, Waters, Phillips.

COLCHESTER: Sullivan, Wilson, Okuonghae, Eastman, Rose, Bean, Eastmond (sub Morrison, 71), Wordsworth (sub Massey, 80), Henderson, Ibehre, Sears (sub Bond, 80). Unused subs: O’Toole, Duguid, Thompson, Cousins.

Referee: Eddie Ilderton (Tyne & Wear)

Attendance: 4,292

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