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Match Report: Colchester United 3-0 Preston North End (Colchester Fan's Perspective)

Saturday 3rd March 2012
In-form striker Steven Gillespie netted twice as Colchester United picked up an npower League One victory against Preston North End.

Visiting manager Graham Westley had good memories of his previous visit to Essex when his Stevenage side thrashed the U's 6-1 on Boxing Day, but he couldn't repeat the feat with his new side.

It was a landmark game for Kem Izzet as the Colchester midfielder made his 400th appearance for the home side. Colchester made one change from their midweek draw against Oldham at Boundary Park, with Kayode Odejayi replacing Freddie Sears up front.

Preston made three changes from their 0-0 draw with Walsall last weekend. Steven Smith, George Miller and Arsenal loanee Rhys Murphy came in for Alex Marrow, Adam Barton and Chris Holroyd.

The Lilywhites made the brighter start to the game and they had a goal disallowed on eight minutes. Former Torquay defender Chris Robertson tapped in Graham Cummins' header from a yard out, but he was clearly standing in an offside position.

Westley's side continued to have the better of the half and they once again nearly took the lead eight minutes later. Young midfielder George Miller, making his first start for the Lilywhites, hit a powerful strike but it struck the underside of the bar.

Despite being on the back foot, Colchester took the lead soon after when Anthony Wordsworth's header was tapped home by Gillespie, the striker's seventh league goal of the season.

With the break approaching, Aaron Brown had a good chance to equalise for Preston but his header, from Paul Parry's free-kick, was deflected wide by Magnus Okuonghae.

The hosts started the second half brighter and six minutes after the interval the advantage was doubled. Brian Wilson crossed into the penalty area and the referee gave a penalty after the ball struck the hand of former skipper Paul Coutts. Former Cheltenham man Gillespie kept his cool from the spot to double his tally and seemingly make the three points safe for John Ward's side.

On 82 minutes, Preston had a chance to narrow the deficit but Jamie Proctor's shot was saved by Ben Williams. Substitute Karl Duguid made a vital intervention from the rebound as he denied Cummins the chance to get an effort in from the rebound.

Andy Bond put the gloss on the fine victory when he added a late third, rolling the ball past the helpless Thorsten Stuckmann. The victory ended a run of two straight draws for Ward's side and made it three games without a win for North End.

Colchester: Williams, Wilson, Eastman, Okuonghae, White, Henderson, Rowlands, Izzet, Wordsworth, Odejayi, Gillespie. Subs: Rose, Heath, Bond, Duguid, Sears.

Preston: Stuckmann, Hunt, Robertson, Brown, Smith, Coutts, Procter, Miller, Parry, Murphy, Cummins. Subs: Arestidou, Devine, Nicholson, Hume, Proctor.
Daniel Jolly

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