Report | Town Under-21s defeated by Colchester

The Hatters development squad remain anchored to the bottom of Premier League Cup Group D after suffering a third defeat in as many matches away to Colchester United at Maldon & Tiptree on Wednesday night.


Town Under-21s, featuring first team goalkeeper James Shea at the ripe old age of 32 behind Under-16 defenders Christian Chigozie and first-half sub Benedict Benagr, went down to an early goal in each half against the U's, who had also lost their opening two games to Chelsea and Leeds.

Adrian Forbes’ side put up a spirited second half show as they tried to force their way back into things against the Category 2 hosts, but ultimately couldn’t find a way through a U’s backline that collected seven yellow cards, with each late challenge somehow committed by a player who hadn’t already been cautioned.

Colchester made a blistering start, rattling the bar in the opening minute and forcing Shea into a save with his legs before taking an eighth-minute lead when Ronnie Nelson poked home in a goalmouth scramble following a corner.

Town threatened briefly with a swift counter-attack after defending another set-piece, Oli Lynch and Jayden Luker leading the charge, but Zack Nelson’s shot blocked on the edge of the box.

The hosts picked up a couple of yellow cards for rugged challenges on Nelson and captain Jake Burger, then went close twice more through impressive right winger Oscar Thorn, who was living up to his name in the Hatters’ left side.

Luker was forced off injured before the half-hour, with left-back Benagr becoming the second Under-16 player on the pitch as his replacement.

Town slowly worked their way into the game, Lynch and Burger linking well in the 40th minute, with the latter’s low cross just eluding Millar Matthews-Lewis as Colchester smuggled the ball away from the goal-line.

Then, with 45 minutes on the clock, a third U’s player went into the ref’s book for bringing Joshua Phillips down on the edge of the box, but Nelson’s free-kick wouldn’t come down enough to trouble goalkeeper Ted Collins.

Colchester doubled their lead eight minutes into the second period with Archie Oliver finding the bottom corner from the edge of the box.

The Hatters pushed to get back into it, Jacob Pinnington’s shot deflected behind, Claude Kayibanda curling just over and Nelson’s free-kick blocked, but his follow-up shot saved by Collins.

Colchester came close to a third on a couple of occasions, including hitting Shea’s near post direct from a right-wing corner.

But it was the Hatters who were asking the questions as the game reached its final quarter, first Pinnington and then Burger driving into the right side of the box and firing in dangerous crosses, the first winning a corner and then Matthews-Lewis unable to turn the second in from almost on the line.

Colchester were up to six yellow cards, the latest for cynical challenge on third sub Marcus Daws, halting an impressive run down the right, before Lynch arrowed a low shot straight at Collins with three minutes of normal time remaining.

The seventh yellow for a home player came deep into injury-time, with Daws flashing another cross past Collins and out to safety for the U’s, and Burger forcing a save from the home keeper, before the final whistle signalled a third defeat in as many matches for Forbes' youngsters.

Town: Shea, Pinnington, Kayibanda, Chigozie, Phillips (Daws 78), Piesold, Burger, Nelson (Heron 66), Luker (Benagr 27), Matthews-Lewis, Lynch.

Subs not used: Horlick, Giwa.

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