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U's put poor Harlow to the sword in Essex Senior Cup
John-Joe O’Toole scored a hat-trick as Colchester United thrashed Harlow Town 8-1 in the Essex Senior Cup third round tonight.
On the eve of Halloween it proved to be a real horror show for the Hawks, under a full moon at a chilly Weston Homes Community Stadium.
This was always going to be a thankless task, for the Ryman League division one north strugglers.
Colchester’s starting line-up boasted eight players with league experience and more than 1,100 league appearances between them, so the odds were always stacked heavily in the U’s favour.
Colchester took control from the beginning and when they went ahead in the fourth minute, it was a sign of things to come.
Drey Wright’s slide pass sent O’Toole through and he slotted low past keeper Bertrand Bossu from close range.
Alex Gilbey’s dipping effort from just under 25 yards flew inches over the bar, before the U’s went further ahead in the 16th minute through Andrew Bond’s spectacular 35-yard rocket which left Harlow keeper Bertrand Bossu motionless.
Freddie Sears fired just wide but the former West Ham United youngster eventually got on the scoresheet midway through the first half when he slotted a precise shot into the far corner past Bossu.
Sears grabbed his second in as many minutes when he fired powerfully past Bossu from close range, following Clinton Morrison’s tapped assist in the area.
Harlow rarely threatened and although Gary Bowes’ effort was deflected wide, the U’s were firmly in charge.
Bossu saved O’Toole’s powerful shot from close range and Bond miscued his first-time shot from ten yards, before Wright grabbed Colchester’s fifth goal just before the break when he tapped in Sears’ low cross from close range.
Harlow brought on Ryohei Tamai for embattled Bossu at half-time and the substitute keeper made good saves to deny both Wright and Sears, early in the second half.
And when O’Toole’s header did beat him, it came back off the post and flew to safety.
U’s keeper Carl Pentney was forced to make his first meaningful save of the night when he blocked Jeff Hammond’s close-range shot.
But Colchester were cruising and scored their sixth goal on the hour mark through O’Toole, who thumped home from the edge of the area for his second of the night.
O’Toole was denied his hat-trick by Tamai’s magnificent save and Wright rattled the far post with a fierce effort, as the U’s went in search of more goals.
Hammond drilled into the side netting and was later denied by Pentney.
But the Harlow striker finally got on the scoresheet with 14 minutes to go when he coolly slotted past Pentney, after running onto Bowes’ pass.
But O’Toole drilled home a finely-placed shot to complete his hat-trick with five minutes to go and Wright tapped in Sears’ low cross with four minutes to go, to complete the U’s comprehensive victory.
COLCHESTER UNITED: Pentney, White (sub Olufemi, 62), Nkumu (sub James-Lewis, 46), Hamilton, Ramm, Gilbey, O’Toole, Bond, Wright, Sears, Morrison (sub Ladapo, 69). Substitutes (not used): Sanderson, Phillips.