Date:Monday December 18 2006
Magic three: Colchester dreaming of a nine-point Christmas
Colchester (2) 3 Stoke (0) 0
Cureton, 1, 17
Attendance: 5, 345
Layer Road Saturday, 16th December 2006
Stoke City`s reputation as Championship high-flyers - paraded in the alternative galaxy of 'Layer Dome` on matchday 23 - was smashed into outer space by Colchester United, who remain undefeated at home since August.
Three Colchester strikes brought a rising City team back down to earth, as a stifling Layer Road cauldron denied Stoke the footballing equivalent of oxygen - goals. The U`s, whose performance propels them into play-off contention, also ended their opponents` run of eight league games without loss.
A Jamie Cureton salvo was enough to neutralise any comet storm that Stoke might have delivered, with his first coming less than 90 seconds into the game. Shell-shocked at the prospect of a thrashing, City did not enjoy much time on the ball and home advantage helped the U`s to victory once again.
While the Layer Road atmosphere may be insufferable for the away side (the facilities are widely accepted as being of a 'Conference standard`), it has become a useful shield to help stave off potential invasion. The 6,150-capacity ground - a one-time army base - is an important part of Colchester`s seemingly unbreakable siege mentality. The actual surface itself is also superb, which raises an almost rhetorical question: Do Colchester want a new stadium after all?
Impending change can be scary, but exciting too, which is what home fans were constantly reminding themselves by the half-way point of this fixture. The potential nightmare soon turned out to be another daydream along the terraces, as the crowd provided a boisterous soundtrack to accompany on-field events.
Simply put, a high tempo start - and two goals - knocked the wind out of City as fast as it put the rhythm into United, with Jamie Cureton`s second goal being one of great quality. The ball fell over his shoulder, where there appeared to be nothing on - next moment, a right-footed shot had rippled the string for 2-0.
A spot of pantomime did provide Stoke with some much-needed relief during the first-half, where an injury forced the linesman, amid jeers, to leave the field of play. During that four-minute stoppage, a comic image of two opposition centre-backs arguing seemed to confirm Colchester`s superiority.
The festive spirit hanging in the town`s sky also dared those watching to ponder the idea that Greg Halford might forfeit his transfer request, particularly as the 22-year-old lined up a free-kick that dipped just wide of Steve Simonsen`s post. The faithful cannot yet decide if he is more Garry Neville (long throw, outstanding work-rate) than Beckham (Free-kick specialist, good crosser, pin-up), but are unanimous in that they do not want him to leave.
The half-time team talk, used to remind Colchester about out-manoeuvring Stoke through pace of play, saw high-speed superiority re-asserted by the U`s after the break. It quickly became olé stuff, and opposing danger-man Ricardo Fuller typified his side`s frustration, by picking up a needless yellow card.
That was after Richard Garcia had risen to help direct the ball into the net, for a third goal. This margin then helped Colchester to successfully leapfrog Stoke in the Championship standings.
Another great result was not without the odd scare - Watson and Garcia did pull-up during the game, although both seem to be on the mend after lengthy lay-offs. That, plus the episode of the injured linesman, concerned the crowd during this 3-0 triumph.
At least Kem Izzet saw the funny side of it, donning the fourth official`s now stray pair of sunglasses as he left the field - despite the fact that a Christmas chill was in the air. It was Christmas out on the pitch too, where every fantastic win is another present from the good ol` white 'n` blues.
Date:Monday December 18 2006
U's Turn To Packwood (Tuesday November 25 2014)
Serious Setback For Okuonghae (Tuesday November 25 2014)
QPR's Kpekawa Arrives (Tuesday November 25 2014)
Bean Makes Portsmouth Move (Tuesday November 25 2014)
Stats: U's v Coventry City (Monday November 24 2014)
Team News: U's v Coventry City (Friday November 21 2014)
U's Seal Permanent Moncur Signing (Wednesday November 19 2014)
Final Day Fixtures Set (Wednesday November 19 2014)
Hume: An Awful Lot Of Positives (Sunday November 16 2014)
Stats: Barnsley v The U's (Saturday November 15 2014)
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