Colchester United (1) 3
Swindon Town (0) 0
Wordsworth, 69, 92
Matt Calmus @ WHCS
After this emphatic-looking three-nil victory for Colchester United, even the most sceptical supporter can again applaud the fact that the sharp-eyed Anthony Wordsworth fancies himself more as a free-scoring midfielder than frustrated winger.
His late double here, against a Swindon side failing to capitalise on some cute first-half possession and some very clear-cut chances, offered us two more reasons to believe he can graduate fully successfully mid-pitch. Far from the finished article, Wordsworth`s harsh booking for some over-exuberant celebrations after goal number one conveniently exposed where a still-callow temperament overlaps in hindrance of an increasingly potent ability to put a bag of air into a net.
Opportunity seemingly knocks in the land of hard-knocks for the sometimes ungainly 21-year-old, whose sustained spell as a regular first-teamer this season has seen him realise his goal-scoring potential, albeit in fits and starts, as he slides moves into double figures. His well-finished salvo, the first curving so sweetly into the goal`s left corner that it appeared to have crept wide, now also means it knocks once more for the rest of his team-mates and, on this evidence, the U`s can embrace a clutch of upcoming proverbial six-pointer clashes – starting at Tuesday against Charlton – with renewed confidence.
The Essex side slipped a trio of possibly slightly opportunistic strikes past a Swindon side boasting second place in League One at the start of play and the most prolific divisional forward partnership, in Charlie Austin and Billy Paynter, although those two red-hot Robbins were unable this time to extend their 43 goal glut.
“The relief amongst the players is fantastic,” said boss Aidy Boothroyd, reflecting jovially at full-time on Colchester`s release from a pressure-cooker environment brought on after an almighty eight-game winless rut. It saw them slip out of play-off contention for the first time all season and pick up a worrying sparse three points from 24 possible. “We`re due a bit of luck because it has not been a good run, although we`ve preformed well. Today we weren`t great, particularly for the first fifteen minutes – there was a nervousness, there was a tenseness; you could feel it. But the relief is fantastic, you can hear it, you can see it and you can certainly feel it,” United`s chief added.
Boothroyd`s management style is the kind that both placates and prickles at once, because he can be criminally honest, to the point of self-deprecation, at times. But even he was magnanimous enough to admit that second-place Swindon could have come away with at least a goal to show for their efforts, after starting brightly and so depriving United an attempt at goal until Kevin Lisbie`s first citer, thumped from outside the area, flew wide. That prowling attacking pair, Austin and Paynter, were giving home fans and the headline writers plenty to ponder, the former missing a sitter from inside the six-year box after his accomplish mistimed what would have been a close-range volley.
That fizzled-out move typified Swindon`s own lack of luck, extended still further when Gordan Greer blemished the cross bar shortly before half-time, at the expense of Colchester, who overtime a tricky first quarter to establish the lead. The spritely Ashley Vincent reaped rewards for his perseverance when converting David Prutton`s deliciously inviting through-ball, reaching it ahead of a stumbling challenger, Alan Sheehan. It took three shots, but Vincent successfully atoned for the glaring miss he suffered during last weekend`s loss against Millwall by firing the U`s in front.
Swindon refused to give up the fight, shown not only in Greer`s woodwork near-miss or the tantalising cross-cum-shot from Danny Ward just before half-time, but also in a number of scuffles and knocks that saw Colchester players in need of attention from the physio. Midfielder Kem Izzet, and defenders Magus Okuonghae and Danny Batth all took turns on the sideslides as the game wore on.
Swindon`s lively Ward, and then John-Paul McGovern who hit his shot some twenty yards over, both went closest at the start of the second period, to which Colchester`s response was sending on an energetic substitute, striker Steven Gillespie, entering play at the sixty-eighth minute.
Either by accident or design, that introduction ushered a second strike for Colchester when Wordsworth, cutting inside from his posted station on the wing, take advantage of the space. An unpressured Wordsworth then deftly picked his spot to score an accurately placed drive from just outside the box, twenty yards out, which looked for a moment as if the precision had taken it the wrong side of the post.
Instead, the home fans burst into raptures as Colchester doubled their advantage.
Shooting star Wordsworth popped up again in stoppage time to seal the points for Colchester in style, although ironically his either yellow card, and subsequent suspension, ensured that despite adding another goal, this double will not count as part of an extended audition to start Tuesday`s game in central`s midfield hothouse. That, given the youngster`s tendency to drift to from out wide and find the target successfully twice, is probably where he would probably rather play.
U’s: Williams, White, Batth, Okuonghae, Tierney, Wordsworth, Prutton, Izzet, Vincent (Ifil, 72), Platt (Gillespie, 68), Lisbie.
Subs, not used: Cousins, Heath, Henderson, O’Toole, Fox.
Full match report and reaction to follow…
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