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Colchester’s fans were in good spirit before their encounter on Saturday, and hopes were high as in form MK Dons visited the Weston Homes Community Stadium. There were two changes to the squad that last faced Crewe, with Tom Eastman being given his home debut in place of the suspended Magnus Okuonghae, and recent addition to the squad Casey Thomas sat on the bench in favour of Anthony Wordsworth. Captain Kem Izzet was riding the bench once again.

The game started off well for the home side as they dominated possession and opportunities on goal in the early part of the game, but the hosts couldn’t convert and saw a number of chances go to waste. The deadlock was broken after 23 minutes however, as Lloyd James’ saw his cross guided into the far corner of the net with a deft head from Matt Heath.

After having a strong command of the game in the first 35 minutes nevertheless, John Ward’s side saw their grip on the game loosen when the visitors equalised in the 37th minute. Charlie MacDonald converted an easy tap in from Daniel Powell’s pass across the goalmouth and in a strong period of play, Tom Flanagan then put the Dons on top going into the half, with another easy goal scored close to the end of added time.

The U’s came out flat once again the second half, looking complacent and uncoordinated both in defence and in attack. Despite this, the home side went close a few times, the best opportunity coming when Andy Bond beat the offside trap, only to blast the ball high over the bar in a 1-on-1 with the keeper.

The last 15 minutes of the game were the most damaging for the home side. MacDonald popped up again and knocked in the visitors third after some shoddy defending left him an open net in the 74th minute, then Stephen Gleeson’s curling shot from the edge of the box made it 4-1 in the 87th minute, and the rout was completed when Jabbo Ibehre tapped in yet another easy goal for MK Dons deep into injury time, wrapping up a 5-1 victory for Karl Robinson’s side.

Post-game, John Ward admitted the result was ‘tough to take’. Speaking of how the team should go forward from here, Ward said that it was now a question of ‘professionalism’ and ‘taking it on the chin’. Indeed, whilst there is no doubt there is reason to be disappointed with the result, the U’s will need to learn from this and move on quickly if they are to rebound next week when they visit Carlisle.

Colchester now sit 14th in the League 1 table with 23 points from 18 games.

Follow @_adambond on twitter for all your Colchester United updates 

Saturday’s game was a quiet one for both sides, but will undoubtedly be a result John Ward’s side will have left Prenton Park happy with. There was just one change to the starting lineup from last week’s 4-2 victory over Notts County, that being Ashley Vincent in for the injured Steven Gillespie, with new boy Casey Thomas sat on the bench.

The early part of the game was dominated by Les Parry’s side, who had a number of chances that were scuppered by U’s keeper Ben Williams. The chance of the half however fell to Ash Taylor who could have put Rovers ahead in the 26th minute, but his header from deep in the penalty area bounced harmlessly over the bar, missing what looked like an easy goal.

Colchester played a better game in the 2nd half, the best chance coming from Michail Antonio. In an impressive solo effort on the 74th minute, Anotonio beat 3 players before hitting a shot that was creeping inside the bottom left corner before Owain fon Williams got a hand to it.

In a more even half, the U’s had Ben Williams to thank after his heroics denied a number of efforts from Rovers striker Adam McGurk to keep the game goalless, giving the away side a vital away point against tough opposition.

Post game, Ward spoke of his contentedness with the result –

“We scored four goals in beating Notts County last week but I’m probably happier with this result, performance and effort from my team.”

After denying Tranmere a goal from their 15 chances, Ben Williams said he believes the team has what it takes to reach the playoffs this season, even though the team could be viewed as “gate-crashing the party”, a challenge that would not be out of the question now that Ward’s side sit only 5 points behind 6th place.

Colchester United now sit 11th in the League 1 table with 23 points from 17 games.

Follow @_adambond on twitter for all your Colchester United updates 

Saturday saw the U’s triumph 4-2 over a tough opponent in Notts County, a game in which John Ward’s side looked confident and possessed the hunger for goals that has been lacking of late.

In a move away from the 4-5-1 formation that has been favoured recently, Steve Gillespie started his first game of the year partnering Kayode Odejayi up front in the 4-4-2 formation the team ended Tuesday’s 1-1 draw against Bournemouth playing. Notably, the odd man out in the centre of midfield was captain Kem Izzet, with Andy Bond and Anthony Wordsworth getting the nod to start.

Michail Antonio gave the home fans hope early on, as a patch of strong attacking play resulted with his shot being narrowly parried over the crossbar on its way to the top left corner of Stuart Nelson’s goal. After starting strong, Gillespie’s game came to an abrupt end when he left the game after 23 minutes due to a hamstring injury. His exit was one of the few points of note during a first half that finished goalless.

It didn’t take long after the break for the deadlock to be broken, as Anthony Wordsworth’s free-kick from just outside the box took a deflection before heading in the left hand side of the goal. Notts County weren’t behind for long however, with Sam Sodje nodding home the equaliser from Jude Sterling’s long throw in the 57th minute.

From this point onwards Colchester began to dominate the game, leading to Antonio’s goal in the 65th minute and a top effort from outside the box that whistled into the top right corner by Ian Henderson just after the 70 minute mark. Kayode Odejayi finished the goal-fest a few minutes later by picking up Henderson’s defence splitting pass and taking to around the keeper to put home the U’s 3rd goal in 10 minutes.

During injury time Notts County got themselves a late consolation prize in the form of Ian Hughes’ shot deflecting off of Matt Heath’s right boot into the back of the net, however it was too late for the visitors to salvage anything from the game.

Post-game, John Ward spoke of the way the team responded to changes he made leading up to the game.

“I’m delighted with the way that my team has responded to the whole game. We changed the format slightly, and then we’ve had to change it again with Steven Gillespie coming off.”

Colchester United now sit 12th in the League 1 table with 22 points from 16 games.

Follow @_adambond on twitter for all your Colchester United updates