MATCH STATS & REPORT FROM EAST ANGLIAN TIMES
MATCH STATS AND REPORT FROM EAST ANGLIAN DAILY TIMES
Match Statistics (Col U / Stags)
16 Goal Attempts 13
11 On target 7
5 Off target 6
1 Woodwork 2
5 Corners 7
9 Fouls 14
5 Offside 5
Late winner boosts survival hopes
EAST ANGLIAN DAILY TIMES
SCOTT McGleish nodded home a precious late winner to earn Colchester United their first home victory for four months, at the expense of fellow strugglers Mansfield Town last night, writes Carl Marston.
The game turned in a dramatic 60 seconds. Mansfield were cursing their luck when Adam Eaton's spectacular 25-yard shot cannoned off a post in the 87th minute.
Play immediately switched to the other end, and the Stags' frustration turned to despair when McGleish popped up with an 88th-minute killer blow.
Substitute Gareth Williams, who was a revelation following his appearance as a substitute early in the second half, ran at Mansfield's defence before seeing his goalbound shot blocked by keeper Keith Welch.
The rebound looped up kindly for an unmarked McGleish, who gleefully headed into the roof of the net from point-blank range.
That made it two goals in two games for McGleish, who had also netted the opener in the previous weekend's 2-1 win at Bristol City.
This latest result will have done caretaker manager Geraint Williams' chances of landing the Layer Road job full-time no harm at all.
Since Williams took over following Steve Whitton's departure from the Colchester hot seat on January 29 he has presided over a draw at Stockport, and now two back-to-back wins.
This recent unbeaten run has helped to pull the U's a little further away from the relegation zone.
Mansfield, fresh from a home win over Notts County, settled the better and created the bulk of the scoring chances in the first 20 minutes.
Target man Andy White caused problems with an early cross that Simon Brown was at full stretch to finger-tip over the bar and behind for a corner.
And it was Andy White who earned the Stags genuine hope of an early strike when he was upended by U's skipper Scott Fitzgerald, on the edge of the penalty area.
Dead-ball specialist Wayne Corden took on the responsibility, but he sliced the ensuing free-kick horribly wide with Brown untroubled.
Colchester had appeals for a penalty turned down in the 16th minute. Mick Stockwell chased down a poorly directed back-pass and took a tumble in the box under pressure from Adam Eaton. Referee Iain Williamson was not convinced.
Sam Stockley's well-timed tackle then denied Andy White a chance and Brown saved a shot from the same player from Liam Lawrence's cross.
United then enjoyed a purple patch around the half-hour mark, only to be denied by the woodwork on one occasion and keeper Keith Welch on several others.
Arsenal loanee Liam Chilvers headed a cross from Stockwell to the far post, where McGleish would have nodded home but for a strong punch away by the commanding Welch.
Keeper Welch, making his Mansfield debut after signing on a match-to-match basis in midweek, was in the action again when scampering out to smother Dean Morgan's shot.
It was rich entertainment and McGleish had a half-chance in the 32nd minute. The U's front-runner raced on to Thomas Pinault's through ball, and tried to lift a shot over Welch. He was right on the edge of his box, but still managed to punch clear.
The U's were desperately close to an opening goal on 33 minutes. McGleish pounced on a long ball and had time to pick his spot. His rising drive beat Welch but struck the underside of the bar and skipper Tom Curtis cleared.
The Essex hosts finished the first half the stronger, even though acting player/coach Mick Stockwell limped off with what looked like a recurrence of his back injury in the 43rd minute. It was disappointing for Stockwell, who was celebrating his 38th birthday.
Karl Duguid, who had come on for Stockwell, eyed up the target from a free-kick in first-half stoppage time. He sent his shot beyond the defensive wall, but Welch saved.
It was a more sedate start to the second half, and both sides were soon making a change in attack.
Iyseden Christie came on for the burly Andy White on 54 minutes, while Crystal Palace loanee Gareth Williams replaced Morgan for the U's just three minutes later.
Williams was in the action almost immediately. He controlled Duguid's cross and cut inside a defender before firing in a shot that was deflected into the side netting.
A neat dummy from Williams teed up McGleish in the 62nd minute. Williams let Pinault's pass roll through his legs, and McGeish was not far adrift with a shot from the edge of the box.
Young striker Williams was causing a nuisance of himself and he appeared to have his legs taken from under him by centre-half Matthew Gadsby on 63 minutes. Once again, the U's had no joy from their plea for a penalty.
Welch made a couple of smart saves in the 75th minute from Williams and Duguid.
Two minutes later and it was the turn of U's keeper Brown to impress when scurrying across his line to shepherd away a dangerous curler from Corden.
Christie had been quickly closed down by United's defence since his introduction and that was the case in the 80th minute, when his attempted shot from the edge of the area was charged down by two defenders.
Only the woodwork denied Mansfield a late winner. Eaton let fly with a spectacular 25-yard thunderbolt that beat Brown all ends up, only to ricochet off the far upright and drop to safety.
A minute later and it was Colchester who grabbed the winner. Williams, so impressive since his introduction, ran at the Mansfield defence before unleashing a ferocious drive that keeper Welch could on parry.
And there was the alert McGleish to head home the rebound from inside the six-yard box to chalk up his sixth goal of the season.
Colchester held out during two minutes of injury time to notch a vital win, and their first home success for four months.
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