Colchester United continued to impress during pre-season, despite letting a two goal lead slip against Aston Villa.
The Premier League giants started well, knocking the ball about well over the recently surfaced pitch at the Weston Homes Community Stadium.
Striker Scott Vernon, who nearly left for Carlisle United a few weeks ago, was the U’s main threat, troubling the Villa back-line once or twice.
And it was Vernon who put the U’s in-front, heading home a Dean Hammond free-kick as the Villa defence struggled to deal with the good delivery.
Young midfielder Marc Albrighton was the visitors main threat and fired in a long-range effort which U’s stopper Mark Cousins did well to smother.
U’s boss Paul Lambert made five changes at the break, as he strived to give all of his preferred squad a run-out.
And once again despite the away side enjoying good possession the U’s had the first real chance of the second-period.
After Simon Hackney and Kem Izzet both combined to forge a chance, live-wire Vernon failed to connect sweetly as his left-footed volley was comfortably collected by Brad Friedel.
However, the U’s extended their lead moments later. Winger Ashley Vincent fired home powerfully from close-range, injuring himself in the process.
Villa’s Steve Sidwell pulled one back shortly later, pouncing on a loose ball after U’s failed to clear.
A number of changes had rattled the U’s team, as they looked unorganised at the back for the first time in the game.
As Villa searched for an equaliser, substitute Adam McGurk was there to capitalise on a defensive mix-up between Alan Maybruy and new keeper Ben Williams, as the U’s made a unfortunate error.
And it was Villa who looked most likely to take the lead after that, with U’s youngster Sam Corcoran doing his best to get his side back on track.
All-in-all many positives came from the night, as the U’ showed they have the quality and fight to be real force next season.
U’s: Cousins (Williams 46), Beevers (Maybury 46), Okuonghae, Baldwin (Heath 61), Tierney, Hammond (Fox 46), Wordsworth (Hackney 46), Perkins (Izzet 46), Vincent (Corcoran 58), Platt (Thomas 61), Vernon (Malton 75)
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