Team: Deane, Walker, Downes, Champion, Browne, Sendles-White, Sutherland, Simmonds, Gibbons, Andrade, Webb.
Prior to kick-off, the players, officials and spectators observed a minute’s silence in memory of the fallen. Marcel Henry-Francis was rested as he was still recovering from a slight thigh strain and we were surprised to see Bruno Andrade start up-front. Frankie Sutherland took up a wide left position.
It was a high tempo start from the visitors and an early opportunity for them resulted in the ball taking a deflection as Gareth Deane went down to make a comfortable save. But it was the R’s who took the lead with a very well taken goal. A Jordan Walker pass found Bruno Andrade who then laid off a great ball to Frankie Sutherland. He cut in from the left and as the keeper advanced, his deft chip left him stranded.
As Rangers went in search of another goal, Bruno Andrade successfully won the ball back, ran into the box and then dinked his shot straight at the keeper. This was followed by an excellent move which resulted in Bradley Simmonds belting the ball on target, but again, it went straight at the Colchester keeper. Not surprisingly, Sutherland and Andrade switched positions.
An opportunist strike from Callum Webb did force their custodian down and turn the ball round the post for a corner. Jordan Gibbons was struggling after receiving a knock and despite trying to run it off James Daly came on to replace him. With minutes remaining the referee booked, rather harshly, one of the Colchester players. Half-time: 1-0
Some of the injured players were out and about. Danny McDonnell’s arm was still in a sling, David Fitzpatrick was on crutches and Justin Koeris was walking around the pitch.
Into the 2nd half and after a great first touch, Bruno Andrade was clipped as he ran through two defenders. Frankie Sutherland took the free kick from the edge of the box and he bent the ball just wide of the far post. At the other end, Gareth Deane came out to head the ball from just outside his area. The ball came back and he had to make a save. He then kicked the ball beautifully out to Bruno Andrade who was situated on the half-way line flank. Colchester were boxing Rangers in much of the time and they equalised when they counter attacked and the ball was driven low into the corner. The goal certainly livened up the Rangers players who were soon back in their stride.
Jordan Walker went off and Conor Hubble was introduced with James Daly reverting to left-back. It wasn’t long before Hubble got hit full in the face. He went down and after receiving treatment it was ascertained that he was unable to continue as he was bleeding from the throat ! Steve Gallen brought on Emmanuel Monthe. Our latest sub set up the second Rangers goal with great aplomb. Monthe took control of the ball on the left flank and as he moved in he blasted the ball across the box and Andrade was well positioned to drive the ball into the back of the net.
James Daly is an industrious player and I must now also mention his versatility. He started off in midfield. He then took up a wide position before filling in at left-back. Then finally, he went back on the wing again ! The R’s third goal came after some wonderful combined skill, firstly by Frankie Sutherland down the left and followed by Bruno Andrade which set up Bradley Simmonds. His well taken finish found its way into the net courtesy of the post. 3-1 to the R’s and well deserved. Colchester were still busy and pushing forward whenever possible. One attempt was comfortably smothered by Gareth Deane. With his body fully behind the ball, he went down on his knees to take the sting and the menace out of the shot. There was some good defending deep in the R’s half from Emmanuel Monthe when his sheer power and perseverance won him the ball. He then turned and nicely laid it off.
As the match reached its closing stages, the sun began to break through the white cloud to improve an already mild mid-November day. Frankie Sutherland took possession of the ball, dragged it back, turned and audaciously attempted a repeat of the chip that brought him his 1st half goal. This time the keeper wasn’t too far off his line and comfortably caught the ball.
It was good to see Sean again after his accident. He had ended up in hospital after coming off a ladder at home. The other members of the Saturday Morning Crew included Alan Barnes, Robbie Bennett, Roger Stokes, Clive Kingham plus Pat and Tom Harrison.