U's beat Billericay on penalties to progress in Essex Senior Cup

Gazette: In cup action - Tosin Olufemi featured for Colchester United in their Essex Senior Cup tie at Colchester United. In cup action - Tosin Olufemi featured for Colchester United in their Essex Senior Cup tie at Colchester United.

Colchester United progressed to the quarter-finals of the Essex Senior Cup after beating Ryman League Premier outfit Billericay Town on penalties, at the Weston Homes Community Stadium.

Billericay striker Joe Benjamin, who had been impressive throughout, fired wide from the spot to send the U’s through 7-6 on penalties, after the tie had finished 2-2 after 90 minutes.

A young Colchester side, which featured the likes of Dominic Vose, Mark Cousins and Tosin Olufemi, were pushed all the way by their non-league opponents.

Richard Halle headed over for Billericay in the opening stages, before Colchester took control of the tie with two quick goals.

The U’s took a 15th-minute lead when Sammie Szmodics pounded on a loose ball 25 yards out before planting a fine left foot shot past goalkeeper William Lumley.

And Colchester doubled their advantage eight minutes later through Nnamdi Nwachuku, who turned swiftly in the box to plan a fierce shot inside Lumley’s near post, after the visitors had failed to clear a corner.

But to their credit, Billericay did not allow their heads to drop and battled back well before half-time.

They reduced the deficit just after the half hour mark when their lively striker Joe Benjamin, whose power and strength caused Colchester problems in the first half, finished smartly from six yards after being picked out by Junior Luke’s short pass.

And after Lumley had done well to hold onto Nwachuku’s shot at the other end, Billericay made it 2-2 eight minutes before the break when defender Halle powered a superb header past Cousins.

Lumley denied Conor Hubble on the stroke of half-time but the sides went in level at the break and Billericay were arguably the better team after the interval.

Colchester went close in the opening stages of the second half through Vose, whose long-range effort flew inches wide of the far post.

Lumley pushed away Nwachuku’s shot with 18 minutes to go while at the other end, Billericay substitute Ricky Sappleton might have done better when he sent a weak header straight at Cousins, as the clock ticked down.

Benjamin squandered an even better chance with11 minutes to go when he fired a low shot straight at Cousins and Sappleton headed against the woodwork from five yards, as the non-league side pushed for a winner.

Sappleton drilled a low shot just wide of the far post and Halle sent a free header wide from a corner but the game went to a penalty shoot-out.

Both sides missed spot-kicks before Benjamin slotted his penalty wide to send Colchester through to the quarter-finals.

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