COLCHESTER United's youngsters played out a nine-goal thriller in their first league match of the year at Cardiff City, writes BRIAN WALLER.

The U's lost out 5-4 in their Professional Development League Two fixture in South Wales, after the hosts scored twice late on to take the three points.

Having lost the home match 7-3 in early November, the visitors must have feared the worst when they found themselves 3-0 down with less than 20 minutes gone.

However in a remarkable turnaround, the U’s amazingly led 4-3 by half-time.

It was to be an advantage that they held until the last 15 minutes when City scored twice late on to take the three points.

Cardiff took the lead after ten minutes through Kieron Evans who tried his luck from out in a wide position on the left and was rewarded as his shot beat keeper Chandler Hallett.

As the away side struck back, home keeper Bradley Stewart saved from Andre Hasanally and Tom Stagg.

But Cardiff doubled their lead through Rubin Colwill as he latched onto Frazer Thomas's through ball and converted from close range.

Things got even worse for Colchester when the Bluebirds scored a third goal from Thomas, who curled a shot in from the left from outside the area after 17 minutes.

However Colchester were back in the match when Lewis Reed headed home from close range after 24 minutes.

Reed went close again soon after but Stewart saved his curled effort, before Tom Stagg got on the scoresheet when he scored with a shot on the turn from six yards out after 33 minutes.

As the goals continued to flow in an eventful first half, the away side then made it 3-3 as Donell Thomas found the net with a shot from the edge of the box, three minutes later.

To cap a remarkable first-half change around, the U's were ahead a minute later after Kamari Parris scored with an effort from inside the box.

Before the break, Harry Pinchard’s free-kick was well taken by Hallett and Evans shot just wide for the hosts.

The half ended with Colchester holding a narrow advantage.

Rather than just sit on their lead, the visitors continued to be a threat after the interval.

Reed was denied after a one on one with keeper Stewart and as the hosts tried to get an equaliser, Thomas’ volley was kept out.

Into the last quarter of an hour and Ntazana Mayembe sent a shot just wide of the right hand post.

The U’s resistance was then broken as Frazer Thomas scored his second goal of the match as he chipped his shot over Hallett with 13 minutes remaining.

Evans curled a free kick just wide before there was then heartbreak for the U’s as Cardiff won the match late on with a goal by Ntazana Mayembe.

He scored as he powered a shot home from a tight angle with nine minutes to go, to win it for the hosts.