by Carl Marston
Saturday, February 23, 2013
Colchester United 1 Tranmere Rovers 5
COLCHESTER United slumped to a disappointing home defeat at the hands of promotion-chasing Tranmere Rovers, who had lost their previous four games, at a bitterly cold Community Stadium this afternoon.
Magnus Okuonghae was on target for the U’s, equalising Max Power’s early thunderbolt just before the half-hour mark.
But Joe Dunne’s men gifted Rovers the lead again, with Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro making the most of hesitancy in the U’s rearguard to make it 2-1 in the 41st minute.
Any hopes of a second-half revival were dispelled by Ash Taylor’s headed goal in the 65th minute.
There was still time for substitute Cole Stockton to tuck home Tranmere’s fourth, and then Michael O’Halloran convert a 90th minute penalty, to leave the U’s stuck in the relegation zone with 13 games remaining.
This was both a very poor performance, as well as a very poor result. In fact, the U’s looked like a relegation team this afternoon.
The U’s will certainly have to improve dramatically if they are to reverse the trend against Yeovil on Tuesday night.
Rovers had grabbed the lead on 11 minutes, following a corner which they were perhaps lucky to be awarded – it had looked like a goal kick.
The U’ only half-cleared Andy Robinson’s corner as far as Power, who blasted home an unstoppable first-time shot from 20 yards out. It was a cracking finish.
But the home side levelled in the 28th minute.
Jabo Ibehre completely missed his kick, following Billy Clifford’s free-kick, but Okuonghae made no mistake with a slick shot on the turn from just outside the six-yard box.
However, the U’s could not build on this momentum, and they fell behind again, to a very soft goal, four minutes before the break.
Keeper Sam Walker and skipper Josh Thompson both dithered, failing to deal with Taylor’s long ball, and Akpa Akpro had the simple task of intercepting and slotting into an unguarded net.
The U’s huffed and puffed in the second period, but most of their goal attempts were from outside the penalty area.
And they fell further behind in the 65th minute, thanks to Taylor’s firm header from Michael Kay’s precise cross. Walker got his hand to the ball, but could not keep it out.
Rovers made it 4-1 in the 86th minute, thanks to substitute Stockton’s fine turn and finish from 12 yards out.
Thompson then conceded a last minute penalty, for felling O’Halloran in the box, and it was O’Halloran himself who converted the spot kick.
COLCHESTER UNITED: Walker, White, Okuonghae, Thompson, Garmston, David Wright (sub Bond, 64), Clifford (sub Morrison, 71) Porter (sub Drey Wright, 53), Sears, Massey, Ibehre. Unused subs: Bean, Eastman, Wilson, Cousins.
TRANMERE ROVERS: fon Williams, Taylor, Goodison, Kay, Bakayogo, Robinson (sub Black, 81), Power, Corry, O’Halloran, Sidibe (sub Stockton, 70), Akpa Akpro. Unused subs: Holmes, Harrison, Bell-Baggie, Daniels, Mooney
Referee: Keith Stroud (Hampshire)