Six-goal thriller ends in draw between U’s and Magpies
PUBLISHED: 16:53 05 January 2019 | UPDATED: 16:56 05 January 2019
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Colchester United 3 Notts County 3
Colchester United and Notts County shared six goals in a League Two thriller at the Jobserve Community Stadium this afternoon.
Sammie Szmodics gave the U’s a perfect start by steering home his ninth goal of the season on eight minutes, but any hopes of a comfortable home win over the bottom club were soon dispelled as County responded in devastating fashion.
Goals from Jon Stead (16) and Dan Jones (18) gave the Magpies a 2-1 lead, and that was extended to 3-1 by Kristian Dennis’ good finish on 31 minutes.
Mikael Mandron pulled a goal back, in first-half stoppage time, and Harry Pell converted a 67th minute penalty to draw the U’s level at 3-3.
But John McGreal’s men could not find a late winner, and so have now not won in four matches, with just two points accrued from a possible 12.
The U’s showed two changes to the side that lost 2-0 at 10-man Crawley Town on New Year’s Day.
Mandron replaced Luke Norris (on the bench) up front, while wide-man Courtney Senior came in for defender Frankie Kent (suspended), the U’s reverting to a four-man defence.
Notts County had won just one of their previous 14 league games, and began the afternoon rock bottom of the Football League, three points adrift of the safety.
The U’s started brightly and the recalled Senior drilled a shot wide of the near post inside the first couple of minutes.
It didn’t take long for the U’s to get their noses in front, though, Szmodics steering home his ninth goal of the season with a deadly finish in the eighth minute, from Senior’s accurate pass.
Senior did well on the right-edge of the box before sliding the ball through for Szmodics to send a first-time shot past keeper Ross Fitzsimons, from 10 yards out.
However, the game was turned on its head by two goals for Notts County inside a three-minute spell, just after the quarter-hour mark.
Former Ipswich striker Stead swept home the equaliser in the 16th minute, the veteran bundling the ball home after the U’s had failed to clear a corner by David Vaughan. It was Stead’s ninth goal of the campaign.
County took the lead on 18 minutes. Again the U’s defence was exposed as Andy Kellett squared across the face of goal for an onrushing Jones to slam the ball into the roof of the net, via the underside of the bar.
The home side nearly equalised in the 26th minute, but Frank Nouble could not bury Mandron’s cross from inside the six-yard box, due to a good block tackle.
But it was County who scored again, to open up a two-goal margin in the 31st minute.
The U’s lost possession in their own half and striker Dennis left a couple of defenders floundering before beating keeper Rene Gilmartin all ends up with a clinical low shot.
At the other end, Tom Lapslie, who had signed a new contract earlier in the week, headed disappointingly wide from Senior’s cross.
But the U’s grabbed themselves a lifeline in first-half injury-time, with Mandron netting only his second goal of the season.
He knew very little about it, as defender Richard Duffy’s attempted clearance, from Ryan Jackson’s cross, ricocheted off Mandron’s shins and past keeper Fitzsimons.
The U’s were on the attack, from the start of the second half, and a header from Mandron dropped just over the bar and onto the top of the net, from Nouble’s cross, while Prosser had a headed goal disallowed for offside in the 54th minute.
The hosts thought they had equalised in the 65th minute, but Szmodics close-range header was adjudged not to have crossed the goal-line.
However, it was 3-3 just two minutes later. Senior was tripped in the box by Duffy, and Pell stepped up to calmly slot home them the penalty, sending keeper Fitzsimons the wrong way.
The U’s looked the more likely to get a winner, but there were to be no more goals.
COLCHESTER: Gilmartin, Jackson, Prosser, Eastman, Vincent-Young, Lapslie, Pell, Senior (sub Gondoh, 80), Szmodics (sub Dickenson, 85), Nouble, Mandron (sub Norris, 82). Unused subs: Barnes, Comley, Wright, Kensdale.
NOTTS COUNTRY: Fitzsimons, Bird, Duffy, Barclay, Jones, Milsom, Kellett (sub Thomas, 59), Vaughan, Evina, Stead, Dennis (sub Turley, 59). Unused subs: Pindroch, Alessandra, Brisley, Crawford, Etete.
Referee: Charles Breakspear (Surrey)
Attendance: 3,181 (310 away fans)