Town end pre-season in winning fashion
A first-half double from Michael Chopra- his sixth of pre-season- secured a 2-1 win for Town, with Clinton Morrison netting in reply for the U’s in the final game of pre-season.
Paul Jewell named the same side that beat West Ham at the weekend in what was to be Town’s final pre-season friendly of the summer.
Town made a bright start to the game and Lee Martin was denied by U’s stopper Mark Cousins as early as the second minute, keeping out his effort from range.
The midfielder was looking lively and was unfortunate to see an effort fly over the bar just three minutes later, after initial good work from Jay Emmanuel-Thomas.
However the best chance of the half fell to the hosts as a defence-splitting ball saw captain Karl Duguid in on goal with just Scott Loach to beat, but the veteran failed to hit the target and the ball sailed wide of the mark.
Emmanuel-Thomas was looking sharp on the right-hand side for Town and some neat trickery almost saw him create an opening for himself, but his effort was eventually crowded out by the Colchester defence.
Massimo Luongo, who has impressed since arriving on loan from Tottenham, was next to try his luck for Town. The Australian played a neat one-two with Martin before seeing his shot from the edge of the box held by Cousins.
But Town’s dominance was soon rewarded as Chopra opened the scoring with a real poachers goal. More good work from Emmanuel-Thomas saw him play in Carlos Edwards, who in turned crossed for Chopra to tap home from two yards out after 22 minutes.
The hosts almost made an immediate response though, but Duguid was just unable to make contact with Andy Bond’s cross at the back-post and Blues survived the scare.
Paul Jewell’s side were looking confident in attack and Chopra was denied a second goal of the evening when his shot was blocked on the line just before the half hour mark, following an Emmanuel-Thomas cross.
But the striker was soon back among the goals, netting his sixth of pre-season and his second of the night, after 37 minutes.
Martin played in Chopra and the striker rounded Cousins before coolly slotting into the unguarded net.
A minute later and the lively Emmanuel-Thomas was denied by a great tip over by Cousins, keeping out his 25-yard curler.
Town made two changes at the break, with Arran Lee-Barrett replacing Scott Loach in goal and Damien Delaney coming on for Luke Chambers.
However it was Colchester who made the first breakthrough of the second half, with Morrison firing past Lee-Barrett with a neat finish at the near post ten minutes after the restart.
The U’s went close to levelling the scores after 66 minutes, as a whipped in cross caused confusion in the Town box but Duguid could only fire into the side netting at the back post.
Town did respond well though and should have extend the lead with 16 minutes remaining, but Martin failed to keep his header down at the back post following a deep cross from skipper Edwards.
Edwards then went close for Town with a pile-driver from 25 yards that Cousins superbly tipped over his bar ten minutes from the end.
That proved to be the last meaningful action of the game as Town shaped up for the new season in perfect fashion.
Colchester: Cousins, Okuonghae, Eastman, White, Duguid, O'Toole, Bond (Wright 82), Bean, Wordsworth (Gilbey 71), Coker, Morrison. Suns not used: Pentney, Rose, Heath, Izzet, Sears, Henderson, Ladapo.
Town: Loach (Lee-Barrett 46), Edwards, Chambers (Delaney 46), Smith (Ainsley 77), Cresswell (Whight 84), Hyam (Stevenson 65), Luongo, Emmanuel-Thomas, Martin (Kourouma 77), Carson (Murray 61), Chopra (Scotland 71).
Att: 3,873 (1,376 Town fans)