Supersub Sammie saves the gritty U’s
SAMMIE Szmodics gave injury-hit Colchester United a timely boost by returning after a long lay-off to net a late equaliser at Cambridge United – and it was no less than they deserved according to boss John McGreal.
The U’s have 14 players on the sidelines, with top-scorer Kurtis Guthrie and influential midfielder Craig Slater the latest additions to the club’s injury list.
But Szmodics, who has been out since October with a foot problem, came off the bench to net the leveler from Brennan Dickenson’s delicious cross six minutes from time.
Cambridge had led since the 21st minute thanks to Gerry McDonagh’s goal, but Colchester boss McGreal was relieved to have Szmodics back fit again to level.
“I felt the equaliser was coming,” he said. “We changed our shape to try and get something out of the game, and Sam’s come off the bench and got the goal for us. It was a good goal and we’re pleased with what is a good point. In the first half we dominated possession without having that clinical edge, and we did that to an extent again in the second half.
“We’ve been waiting a long time to get Sammie back, he’s been out for four months and he came on and made a real difference.”
Cambridge had the better of the first period, with George Maris and Luke Berry bright in midfield.
But neither team had managed a shot on target before McDonagh opened the scoring, controlling well in the box before turning and firing in a powerful shot.
Shaun Derry’s side could have increased their lead had Berry made better contact with a Piero Mingoia cross, but as the match wore on Colchester began to look more dangerous. Will Norris saved well from George Elokobi, and substitute Macauley Bonne had an effort ruled out for offside before Szmodics found the net for the visitors.
“We carried out our game plan well, which I’m very pleased with,” said Derry, whose team are 12th, seven points off the play-off places.
“We were strong defensively and counter-attacked at the right moments, but we didn’t get the second goal, and if we’d gone on and done that I think it would’ve been our game.
“Midway through the second we started to turn the screw a bit, but we needed to be more ruthless. Time will tell whether this is a point gained or two dropped, we’ve got 12 games to go and there’s still a lot to play for.”