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U23s Report: Colchester United 1-4 Crystal Palace


Palace kept their heads up and came away with an important three points after an early setback away to Colchester United.

It was a slow start to proceedings at Colchester’s Training Ground, with both sides trying to deal with a bobbly pitch and low, bright sunshine – resulting in few chances in the opening exchanges.

The home side repeatedly tried to get in behind the Palace backline, hoping their pace on the flanks would reap rewards – and it did on 12 minutes.

An awkward long ball over the top was just too high for Ollie O’Dwyer, who got a glancing touch on it with his head, but it was not enough to divert the ball away from danger.

Colchester’s Decarrey Sheriff was first to the loose ball, controlling it with his chest without breaking stride before arrowing a low left-footed effort into the far bottom corner, beyond the reach of Joe Tupper.

Neither side had a clear-cut chance in the following 25 minutes, with Levi Lumeka seeing a shot fly well over for Palace and Colchester having a couple of dangerous crosses, not met by anyone in the area.

Gio McGregor and Nya Kirby impressed in the Eagles’ engine room, winning the ball and trying to release the likes of Lumeka, Jason Lokilo and Jordon Mutch in the spaces in front of the Colchester defence. On 40 minutes McGregor provided the sideways pass across the edge of the Colchester box to Lokilo, who – after a touch – curled a beautiful effort into the far corner beyond the reach of Nick Hayes to bring Palace level.

Four minutes later McGregor again played the role of provider, finding Kirby eight yards out for an improvised, first-time finish which beat Hayes at his near post to end the first half 1-2 in the Eagles’ favour.

Two superb blocks in quick succession from Sam Woods denied Colchester on 52 minutes, before Tarryn Allarakhia skewed a powerful effort well over Tupper’s cross bar.

Palace had a third on 54 minutes when a neat passing break ended with Lokilo finding Sean Robertson on the right. The wide man played a perfect cross into the middle and Lumeka rose highest to power the header inside the far post.

Just over 10 minutes later and Lumeka turned creator. Kirby gave him the ball and he in turn found Mutch, who evaded a challenge and fired across goal into the far corner for Palace’s fourth.

Colchester pushed for a way back into the game but were denied by Tupper and the crossbar, whilst Palace went close to a fifth – first through Lokilo and then Lumeka, who both saw spectacular efforts fly narrowly off-target.

In the end, Palace were able to see the game out comfortably, having responded to the early set back emphatically.

Colchester: Hayes; Wilson (Ager, 60), D Wright, Kensdale, W Wright, Allarakhia (Chilvers, 80), Edge, Sheriff (Jones, 69), Gondoh, Phipps, Rooney.

Subs: Kurasik.

Palace: Tupper; O’Dwyer (Daly, 46), Brown, Woods; Robertson, Phillips, McGregor, Kirby, Mutch; Lokilo, Lumeka.

Subs: Webber, Hungbo, Boateng.