Date:Tuesday February 19 2008
Four games, four goals for vice skipper. Will Jackson become Johnnie Five on Saturday?
Step right this way to see a new sight at Colchester`s crumbling 100-year-old auditorium, aka Layer Road. Johnnie Jackson`s newfound habit of saving the most net-busting finishes for the season`s most gut-wrenching period is making the U`s Championship survival crusade a most compelling story.
Ballet with a ball, theatre for the fans. Call JJ`s new discovery of a spring-loaded right foot - namly the spectacular volley - whatever you like. Most of all, call it timely; Colchester`s need for points has been answered by a midfield man relishing his recently inherited job as vice captain.
Cometh the hour - with the U`s deep in the relegation mire - cometh Johnnie Jackson. That is the new murmured mantra that floats from the terraces, because the former Tottenham player now has four goals in as many games as the side continue a slow and steady climb up the league ladder.
"It's a very good feeling," admitted Jackson to fanzine myfootball writer after sealing the recent win against Preston by netting during the game`s last knockings. "It's the first time we've won a game when I've scored so I was beginning to think I was a bit of a jinx," he said, clearly relieved at breaking his duck and ending Colchester`s baron spell of no wins at home since the autumn.
Jackson`s promised billing as an attacking poacher in the final third upon arrival from Spurs in 2006 went from fiction to fact in one clinical move that night, seven days ago. His previous efforts were both headers.
In fact, the goal against Preston was such a picture-book hit that his manager Geraint Williams went so far as to say Johnnie would not record another of such beauty in twenty years. Jackson ignored that jibe to deploy a pinging stoke on the apex of the penalty area just four days later against Hull, in so doing eclipsing his Tuesday flourish with a sweet stunner last Saturday.
If you buy in to talk about Colchester United`s stay in the second tier of English football still being a fairytale, then Williams has begun weaving training ground charms again. After a false start and a lull in league placing after the huge success of 2006/7, results have picked up once more. And in Jackson, the gaffer has finally found someone to wear the golden boot that was being passed around the changing room like an ill-fitting glass slipper.
Thankfully, the season did not have to reach the eleventh hour before Williams found a perfect fit, that player willing to assume the mantle automatically granting them a licence to re-write the autocue.
Jackson has done just that in recent games, prompting the timeworn re-working of hackneyed plots by slipping from a supporting cast-member to principle protagonist. A quiet debut year at centre stage in Blue 'n` White has been swept away by an unprecedented goal rush from the Colchester number four. Six strikes already this term read favourably against just two from last.
The player was even more delighted with the goal he recorded against Phil Brown`s Hull than his first in the same seven-day space. "I think it's probably the best I've ever scored, that one," insisted Jackson come the final whistle, "I don't know where I've got this right foot from, because I could barely kick with it before!"
On current form, Jackson`s undroppable from the team and unstoppable on the field - he appears to have found fine form at the right time, too, given Colchester`s many midfield options, and precarious league position.
Just a few weeks ago, Jackson wrote his name on a new contact. Ever since then, he has been writing it in the sky and, better yet, all over the scoresheet.
While next matchday visitors Bristol will raise an eyebrow, U`s fans everywhere are raising a glass. Cheers to Johnnie, the boy with bullets in his boots.
Date:Tuesday February 19 2008
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