Last gasp woe in Colchester as sluggish County suffer a major blow to their play-off bid

TUSSLE: Harry Charsley wordt verdrongen naar County in Colchester <i>(Image: Huw Evans Agency)</i>” bad-src=”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTY0MA–/ 235ccf44b74f45c82975″ src=”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTY0MA–/ 5ccf44b74f45c82975″/></div>
<p><figcaption class=TUSSLE: Harry Charsley is pushed out to County at Colchester (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

NEWPORT County AFC faced additional misery as Colchester United gave their League Two survival hopes a huge boost with a 2-1 win at Essex.

The Exiles looked set for a share of the spoils when the score was level after 90, but Jay Mingi struck home in the third of seven extra minutes.

In reality, this was what the U’s deserved after being given the best of chances on a tricky throw at the Jobserve Community Stadium.

County were sluggish in the first half and had their crossbar hit by Alistair Smith’s thumping drive, but they took the lead in the 42nd minute thanks to a calm lob from striker Offrande Zanzala after a defensive mix-up.

Nick Townsend, who had blocked bravely in the first half, made some great saves to maintain the lead after the hour.

However, the U’s deservedly leveled in the 75th minute when Ellis Iandolo scored from a corner.

Colchester stayed to the fore and secured victory when Mingi played a one-two, outsmarting substitute James Waite and giving Townsend no chance.

It means the Exiles fall two points short of manager Graham Coughlan’s target of 57, equaling last season’s total.

They are also running out of games in their unlikely play-off bid, with a five-point lead over now seventh-placed Gillingham.

Only victory against Crawley on Bank Holiday Monday will keep the dream alive, but County are wavering.

Colchester, meanwhile, took a major step towards Football League survival as it looked like they would have to settle for a ninth draw in twelve games under new boss Danny Cowley.

South Wales Argus: CHALLENGE: Offrande Zanzala looks to protect the ball for County

South Wales Argus: CHALLENGE: Offrande Zanzala looks to protect the ball for County

CHALLENGE: Offrande Zanzala looks to protect the ball for County (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

Townsend was fit to start after coming off with a groin injury at Barrow, while defender Matt Baker was given the green light after returning from Wales Under-21 duty.

He replaced Harrison Bright on the right of the center three, while Matty Bondswell replaced the absent Adam Lewis at left wing-back.

The rotation continued alongside top scorer Will Evans up front, with Zanzala preferred to Seb Palmer-Houlden as starter.

It was a cagey start, with neither side taking advantage of the set-piece opportunities and the first try of note was in the 16th minute, and that was a very ambitious long-range effort from Brad Ihionvien that never put Townsend in danger would bring.

That was followed by another hopeful home effort from well outside the box from Arthur Read and he failed to find the accuracy to match his quick feet to find space.

County were pinned down in their penalty area and failed to retain the ball, but Colchester were able to turn that territorial and possession dominance into serious chances.

That changed in the 24th minute when an excellent run down the right from Harry Anderson was followed by a thunderous strike from the edge of the box from Smith that came back off the crossbar and Ihionvien could not nod the rebound home after it had headed home. him quickly.

Colchester came close again in the 28th minute after County gave the ball away and the hosts countered. Ihionvien crossed from the left only for Townsend to bravely come out to block striker John Akinde’s shot from ten yards out.

It was an extremely poor half hour from the Exiles, with and without the ball; too many duels were lost.

The pattern continued as half-time approached, with the wrestlers looking sharper and searching for the opener, but it came from the Exiles against the run of play in the 42nd minute thanks to a defensive scramble.

South Wales Argus: Delight: County celebrate Offrande Zanzala's openerSouth Wales Argus: Delight: County celebrate Offrande Zanzala's opener

South Wales Argus: Delight: County celebrate Offrande Zanzala’s opener

DELIGHT: County celebrate Offrande Zanzala’s opener (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

Baker laid a ball into the right channel, goalkeeper Owen Goodman and Connor Hall failed to communicate, with the latter’s header finding Zanzala, who coolly lobbed his right foot into the net from just inside the penalty area.

On the stroke of half-time there was still a half chance to make it 2-0 when Harry Charsley crossed from the right, but Aaron Wildig could not direct a header on target.

County had their noses in front, but they would certainly face a backlash from a Colchester side fighting for their lives in the Football League.

Anderson went into the penalty area under pressure from Kyle Jameson a minute after the restart, but it would have been extremely soft and referee Sunny Sukhvir Gill was not interested.

A misread by Scot Bennett led to a Colchester counter in the 52nd minute, but they failed to find a great ball in the final third and Anderson fired wide under pressure.

County made it to the hour with their lead intact against a U side whose delivery let them down in the final third.

However, they got it right on 65 minutes when Anderson’s cross found Akinde at the far post and his powerful shot was brilliantly turned over by Townsend.

That was quickly followed by another cracker, with the ‘keeper coming down low to his left to tip Smith’s effort around his near post.

County refreshed their side with midfielder James Waite and Palmer-Houlden were then forced into a substitution as Bondswell limped off, Harrison Bright came on and Lewis Payne moved to the left.

The Exiles tried to hold on but the score was level after 75 minutes when a corner was turned in from the left and Ellis Iandolo escaped Bryn Morris to score from close range.

It was Colchester’s turn to be indebted to their goalkeeper in the 79th minute when Palmer-Houlden fought in the penalty area, rolled his defender, but was denied by Goodman.

Townsend was absolutely troubled by Samson Tovide in the 84th minute – the ball was there, but the striker was reckless and powerful – before creating a great chance for the hosts with three to go.

The ball fell to Noah Chilvers and he beat the in-form stopper, but not the covering Baker, although the shot appeared to go wide.

County tried to turn back the clock but the hosts were given a lift with seven minutes of extra time and then struck through Mingi.

The Exiles were unable to respond and won’t have long to lick their wounds with Crawley coming to Rodney Parade on Monday.

Colchester scorers: Iandolo, Mingi.

District: Townsend, Payne, Baker, Bennett (captain), Jameson, Bondswell (Bright 72), Morris, Wildig, Charsley, Wildig (Waite 67), Zanzala (Palmer-Houlden 67), Evans.
Substitutes not used: Maxted, Sanca, Rai, Jephcott.
Goals: Zanzala.
Yellow: Payne, Waite.

Referee: Sunny Sukhvir Gill.
Attendance: 4,308 (237 province).

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