Colchester United 1 PNE 0 full time

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A second-half goal from Freddie Sears condemned 10-man Preston North End to defeat against Colchester United at the Weston Homes Community Stadium.

The result increased the pressure on PNE boss Graham Westley, North End’s poor run of form stretching to just one win in 13 league games.

Sears struck the winner in the 55th minute, applying the finishing touch from close range after a Jabo Ibehre shot had beaten Thorsten Stuckmann.

Bailey Wright was sent-off 10 minutes from time after being booked twice in the space of 60 seconds.

But the second yellow card looked like a case of mistaken identity, with him not appearing to be the player who tangled with Ibehre - the U’s striker also receiving a caution.

North End did have the chances to get on the scoresheet, Lee Holmes driving a shot against the bar in the second half.

And earlier in the contest, Andy Procter’s powerful header had forced Colchester keeper Sam Walker into a fine save.

In the end, Sears’ goal settled the issue - the former West Ham front man a real thorn in the side all afternoon - and that spelt bitter disappointment for PNE’s 268 travelling supporters.

Westley had made four changes to the North End side.

David Buchanan, John Welsh, Procter and Joe Garner came into North End’s starting line-up.

Buchanan replaced Ben Davies at left-back, teenager Davies dropping down to the bench after two starts in the first team.

Stuart Beavon, Joel Byrom and Jack King, who started last week’s defeat to Shrewsbury, missed out through injury.

There was a return to the bench for Keith Keane after knee surgery had sidelined the right-back for nearly three months.

North End had the game’s first couple of chances, Paul Connolly’s cross from the right-wing falling to Garner at the back post in the fifth minute.

His shot clipped off a Colchester defender and looped over the bar at the expense of a corner.

Nicky Wroe delivered the resulting flag-kick from the left, Procter rising highest in the middle to meet it with a thumping header which keeper Sam Walker palmed away at full stretch.

Chris Robertson was first to the rebound and saw his effort deflected behind for another corner.

In the 11th minute, Garner intercepted a pass across the Colchester midfielder and tried his luck with a long range shot which bounced on the bobbly pitch into Walker’s gloves.

At the other end, Massey just failed to get his head to a John White cross, while George Porter guided a header wide of the far post from a Billy Clifford centre.

The U’s went close after 19 minutes, Porter powering past two challenges on the right-wing and pulling a low cross back into the middle.

Sears met it with a first-time drive from 14 yards which Stuckmann dived to push out.

North End were fortunate not to fall behind in the 27th minute after they only half cleared a Sears corner.

Wroe didn’t deal with the loose ball just outside the box, and Gavin Massey put his laces through a stinging right-foot shot which beat Stuckmann and bounced against the post.

At the contest past the half-hour mark, Garner was tripped a yard outside the U’s box to earn a free-kick.

The hosts lined-up a seven-man wall, it doing its job in taking the power out of Wroe’s low drive, allowing Walker to save comfortably.

In the run-up to the interval Buchanan tried a speculative effort from 25 yards which drifted well wide of the target.

Then Holmes played a short corner to Welsh, the skipper lifting the ball to the far post where Garner looped a header on to the top of the net.

In the early exchanges of the second half, Sears met a right-wing cross with a flicked effort which flew just wide of the back post.

The striker went close again in the 53rd minute, meeting Porter’s cross and firing inches past the near post.

It was third time lucky for Sears two minutes later as he found the net two minutes later to put Colchester in front.

Ibehre sprung the offside trap to run clear of the North End back four and lift a shot over the advancing Stuckmann.

The shot didn’t look to have the legs to take it over the line and Sears was on hand to apply a side-foot finish from six yards.

Welsh wasn’t far from fashioning an equaliser in the 63rd minute, driving a 25-yard shot just wide of the target.

Sears went close again when he latched on to an angled pass in the box, but Wright slid across to block his shot.

The woodwork denied North End a leveller with 72 minutes on the clock, Holmes driving a shot against the bar from the edge of the box - Wroe was following up but could only put the rebound over the top.

Jeffrey Monakana and Chris Beardsley replaced Procter and Holmes in a 75th minute double substitution.

Soon after coming on, Monakana beat his marker down the right-wing and put over a cross which Garner volleyed over.

North End went down to 10 men in the 80th minute, much controversy surrounding Wright’s dismissal.

The visitors were preparing to defend a U’s free-kick, awarded for a Wright foul on Sears which earned him a caution.

Just before the free-kick was taken, the linesman on the main stand side flagged to attract the referee’s attention.

After a brief consultation, referee Mark Haywood booked Colchester striker Ibehre and then showed Wright a second yellow followed by red.

PNE claimed a case of mistaken identity, with Buchanan having been closest to Ibehre, not Wright.

Five minutes of stoppage time didn’t come to North End’s assistance, and they went down to a second consecutive defeat.

Colchester: Walker, Wilson (Eastman 57), Okuonghae, Thompson, White, Porter (Compton 85), Wright, Clifford (Bean 90), Massey, Sears, Ibehre. Unused subs: Phillips, Morrison, Bond, Wright.

PNE: Stuckmann, Connolly, Wright, Robertson, Buchanan, Wroe, Welsh, Procter (Beardsley 75), Holmes (Monakana 75), Cummins (Huntington 82), Garner. Unused subs: Keane, Davies, Foster, Rudd.

Referee: Mark Haywood (West Yorkshire)

Attendance: 3,215

Colchester: Walker, Wilson, Okuonghae, Thompson, White, Porter, Wright, Clifford, Massey, Sears, Ibehre. Subs: Phillips, Morrison, Bond, Bean, Eastman, Wright, Compton.

PNE: Stuckmann, Connolly, Wright, Robertson, Buchanan, Wroe, Welsh, Procter, Holmes, Cummins, Garner. Subs: Huntington, Keane, Monakana, Beardsley, Davies, Foster, Rudd.

Referee: Mark Haywood (West Yorkshire)