Ipswich Town’s Under 18s missed out on the chance to return to the top of the table this afternoon (Tuesday 30th March), as a busy few days ended with a 6-0 home defeat against local rivals Colchester United.
Adem Atay’s side (sponsored by Britton Group) had beaten Swindon Town 3-1 in the FA Youth Cup at Portman Road just three days earlier, and some U18s regulars featured in the Under 23s’ win at Charlton yesterday (Monday 29th), so this was a much-changed side after a busy 72-hour period for the older Town Academy age categories. That takes nothing away from a strong Colchester United performance, however, as the Essex visitors left Ipswich with a comprehensive win on this occasion.
The game was played in warm, Spring sunshine and the U’s were on the front foot from the first whistle. They opened the scoring via Tom Stagg, who converted the rebound after a team mate’s shot hit the bar (12′). Matt Ward was heavily involved in Town’s early attacking moves, but it was Stagg who struck again for Colchester to double their lead after 21 minutes. Ola Bello almost latched onto a through-ball on 31′, then Jack Manly saw his free-kick saved after a foul on Ward (34′). Shortly afterwards, though, United added a third via their number 8 (36′).
Ward, Bello and Alfie Cutbush all threatened for Town late in the half, before Zak Bradshaw had a penalty appeal turned down in added time. The half-time whistle blew with the away side three goals to the good.
The second half got underway with Ipswich kicking toward the Playford Road end of the pitch. The opening exchanges were even and the game flowed from end to end. Colchester’s number 10 fired wide following a long throw on 53 minutes, before Cutbush came close to pulling one back when his shot hit the outside of the post on 54 minutes. That was his last involvement, as he left the field as part of a triple Town substitution (Cutbush, Bradshaw and McFadden off, Nwabueze, Moodie and Saturday goal-scorer Agbaje on).
Town ‘keeper Lewis Ridd saved well from Colchester’s number 11 on 60 minutes, before a cross from the same player evaded all team mates (62′) and ran out for a Town goal kick. Ridd then saved well again, from the same opponent, on 68 minutes as he turned the ball wide for a corner. It was from this set-piece, however, that Colchester scored a fourth via a back post header from their number 5 (68’).
Just three minutes later, United struck again. Number 4 was brought down in the box and up stepped Stagg to complete his hat-trick. He almost grabbed a fourth personal goal on 74 minutes, but his chested effort was saved at point blank range by Ridd before Sean Stephenson completed the clearance.
On 78 minutes the Blues looked to claim a consolation goal. Tawanda Chirewa made an excellent run through the middle of the pitch before eventually getting crowded out, then Bello (another Town scorer on Saturday) was beaten to a through-ball by the visiting ‘keeper seconds later. Both teams had further chances to extend the scoring in the last few minutes of normal time, but it was Colchester who added gloss to their win by converting a sixth goal following a corner in the third minute of stoppage time.
Despite the defeat, Town remain in second place ahead of a visit to Sheffield United on Saturday 10th April.
ITFC U18s line-up vs Colchester United (home, league, Tuesday 30/03/2021, 1pm kick-off): Ridd, McFadden (Agbaje 55′, pictured), Barbrook, Bradshaw (Nwabueze 55′), Stephenson, Knock, Manly, Cutbush (c) (Moodie 55′), Bello, Chirewa, Ward. Unused subs: Bort, Osbourne.
Other match reports:
Official ITFC Club website: https://www.itfc.co.uk/news/2021/march/ipswich-u18s-lose-at-home-to-colchester/