COLCHESTER United's under-18s were beaten 5-1 at Sheffield United in their Professional Development League National semi-final, writes BRIAN WALLER.

The U’s trip to Bramall Lane looked a very difficult task against a Blades side who had not lost any of their 23 league games, all season.

Colchester had lost 4-0 at home to Sheffield United last August and had never beaten them at this level in their previous eight meetings, losing all of them.


Sheffield United started the match well with several early chances and Josh Smith's attempt was blocked by a defender, after a mazy run into the box.

Owen Hampson's ball over the top put in Smith again but his effort was deflected over the bar for a corner.

Home attacker Theo Williams was then booked before a great block on a cross by Finlay Potter was denying the visitors an opening.

Oliver Arblaster got Williams in behind the Colchester defence, but he was denied by keeper Jaime Tedaldi, who then denied Lankshear.

However the Us took the lead just before half-time.

Bradley Ihionvien robbed Potter down by the right corner and when he burst into the box, he fired left footed into the far corner of the net.

Colchester went in at the break ahead but Sheffield United started the second half strongly and Tedaldi tested Williams, while Sai Sachdev headed over the bar.

Arblaster bursting forward found Williams who let the ball get away from him, allowing the U’s keeper to gather up.

However the hosts equalised on the hour mark as Sydie Peck played the ball in behind the right side of the U’s defence and Josh Smith scored with an angled shot back across goal.

Having levelled it up, the Blades quickly added a second goal two minutes later as Lankshear's low cross saw Sydie Peck net.

In a dramatic few minutes, the whole complex of the game changed as from a long throw Samson Tovide held the ball up, on the turn Ihionvien found Freddie Price who was denied by home keeper Callum Hiddleston down by his right hand post on 69 minutes.

After a brief stoppage the Blades played some neat passing football on the edge of the U’s box and then Smith darted into the box and scored with an angled shot, three minutes later.

Colchester trailed 3-1 and had it all to do against a Blades side who were looking eagerly for more goals.

And the task got even harder with 14 minutes remaining when Finlay Potter headed in Peck's corner, after Lankshear's shot had been pushed away.

It was 5-1 when Williams scored from close range, with ten minutes remaining.

Tedaldi denied Macedo late on but Sheffield United went on to claim victory and book a meeting with Charlton Athletic in the final, after they beat Barnsley 3-2 in the other semi-final.

U's U18: Tedaldi, Yates, Edwards, Terry, Price, Parish, Lowe, Drakes-Thomas, Bennett, Ihionvien, Tovide, Subs: Peglar, Chakawa, Marcel Dilaver, Redgrave, Kane.