Buoyant U`s smash Crystal Palace
C'Palace (0) 1 Colchester United (0) 3
Attendance: 16, 762
Iwelumo, 90 (Pen)
Saturday, 9th December 2006
A dazzling second-half display helped Colchester United debunk more than a few myths in London, as they lit up a chilly afternoon by hitting the string three times, with goals from Karl Duguid, Richard Garcia and Chris Iwelumo.
The fixture list`s revolving door allowed the U`s to prove that - in producing only their second away win of the season - they will no longer be content to live a double life. Their frustrating split personality (exhilarating at home, often anonymous away) shows signs of fading at last.
These rare, but well-earned, three points were importantly secured away from 'Layer Dome`, and halted a Crystal Palace side on a mini-revival (undefeated in the previous four matches).
Whichever way you view the result, it gleams positively. The whole team can be proud of their performance: - Iwelumo, Cureton, and Duguid were all excellent. Individual praise also goes to Dean Gerken, who made at least a dozen good saves. The 21 year-old, (deputising again for the rested Aidan Davison) gave a convincing display between the sticks.
Richard Garcia`s return from injury - and subsequent second-half strike - was great to see. His superb 20-yarder, drilled into the bottom left-hand corner, put the U`s two up within the space seven minutes. This, after United turned the tables on Palace, who dominated for most of the first 45.
It has become a bit of a mantra to say that Colchester play better after the interval - look at the pattern against Southend, Hull, or Cardiff, as proof. This is fine, except that it makes nervous watching.
Geraint Williams was understandably delighted with the win: "I see them performing like that every day. They`re all comfortable on the ball and the work ethic is second to none," he said.
An enquiring mind inevitably looks for some more solid reasons to explain the success. Karl Duguid, speaking in the Daily Mail before the match, echoed his manager by attributing the side`s helium balloon-like rise to 'having the right attitude`.
However, before last week`s game at Cardiff, Williams hinted that his team had done much work on maintaining fitness this season, seemingly a more concrete explanation of Colchester`s ability to play right until the whistle.
Such stamina was of great use during this game, especially since opportunities were rare until after the break. Jobi McAnuff, and veteran Northern Ireland international midfielder Michael Hughes, gave the U`s most trouble, orchestrating an onslaught that meant Palace were unlucky not to be in front.
The home side might have given Colchester a lesson in ball retention, but it turned out to be the oldest of clichés that were of most comfort at half-time.
Pick any from: 'Possession alone (58% in favour of Palace at this point) won`t win games,` to 'a draw is always a good result when away from home.` The 15/2 odds given for the match to remain goalless also looked like a good wager- but any Palace fan riding on that statistic might as well have torn up their betting slip there and then.
For, the Eagles were not as fast out of the stables as Colchester in the second-half, and so were destined for a bad day at the races. An increased tempo resulted in a U`s goal just after the hour mark by captain Duguid. He bundled the ball in from six yards, having benefited from good work by Jamie Cureton, who himself had already seen two earlier goal-bound efforts saved.
The second goal came from the returning Garcia, (also on the scoresheet for the reserves in mid-week) doubling the advantage, right after Gerken was forced to deny a lively McAnuff the chance to equalise.
A reaction from Palace did result in an 87th-minute goal by Clinton Morrison; this was not before Iwelumo had missed two almost identical headers, both from twelve yards out. He then took the chance to score from the very same distance, as Richard Garcia was hauled down in the box. The Scot took the penalty with great aplomb, placing a textbook shot into the bottom-right-hand corner, to land his 10th goal of the season.
While Palace remain a sleeping giant, the fairytale continues for Colchester United.