It was hard to envisage the six goal barrage that would come in the second half at the Weston Homes Community Stadium on Saturday after a first half that promised little, particularly from a Notts perspective. As it was, as soon as Anthony Wordsworth's deflected free kick opened the scoring for the hosts it became a game that, although low on quality, was very high on incident.
Missing Krystian Pearce and Gavin Mahon from the spine of their team, Notts struggled early on and Colchester should've gone ahead almost immediately. Stuart Nelson inexplicably came racing out to the corner and kept the ball in play rather booting it into one of the many fields that surround Colchester's ground, with the hosts picking up the loose ball and eventually threading it to Steven Gillespie, who somehow missed the target from six yards with the goal at his mercy.
This didn't deter the hosts, who's high energy, direct style was troubling Notts. Nelson had to be at his very best to tip a Michail Antonio volley over the bar, before Karl Hawley had Notts' best effort so far, dragging a shot wide from the edge of the box. Nelson was easily the busier 'keeper in the first half though, having to save twice more from the industrious Wordsworth.
The start of the second was much like the first, with the hosts calling all of the shots. They should've taken the lead within the first minute, Antonio heading the ball into the path of Ian Henderson who became the latest Colchester player to miss the target from close range. Not that it mattered, because they were soon ahead anyway. Sam Sodje, a defensive liability for just over forty five minutes thus far, finally got something spot on with an inch perfect tackle on the edge of the Notts box. The referee, clearly just assuming Sodje couldn't have time a tackle right, gave a free kick anyway and Wordsworth finally found the net, albeit with the help of a huge deflection.
This seemed to be the final straw for Plan A, with Notts resorting to Plan B with the introduction of Jude Stirling. It worked, too. Within moments his monstrous throw was headed home by Sodje, who looked altogether more at home in the opposition box than in his own and Notts were level, albeit undeservedly. Then came one of two turning points. Hawley found himself on the ball in the box and simply had to lay it off to Lee Hughes to surely put the Magpies ahead, but he tried to beat too many players and lost the ball. Within ten seconds, Mike Edwards' slip had let it Kayode Odejayi, who eventually fed Antonio to put Colchester back infront.
Turning point two also involved the on loan Southampton man, when he kicked out at Hughes off the ball for no apparent reason. The officials all managed to miss it though and he stayed on the pitch, with Ian Henderson drilling in a long shot moments later to consolidate the lead. Notts' misery was compounded as they continued to unravel, with Odejayi the next man to get on the scoresheet, rounding Nelson and slotting home after a neat Henderson through ball. Lee Hughes hit the post late on before Matt Heath deflected a Jeff Hughes volley past his own 'keeper, but it was far too little far too late for Notts.