Colchester V Wolves Match Report
U`s should survive after Chris and Curo combo
Colchester U (1) 2 Wolves 0 (1)
Wolves Scorer: Collins, 90 (+ 2)
Saturday, 30th December 2006
A golden year may be evaporating in the flat lands of Essex, but the sun seemingly never sets at 'Layer Drome`, where Colchester United celebrated an 11th home win on the spin, and hung the reputation of yet another big Championship team out to dry.
It turned out to be a close-run thing, since the winning goal, a 13th of the season from big Chris Iwelumo, was the result of a handball during the build-up, as confirmed by a video replay at half time. That did not stop the Scot from powering his way past Gary Breen - who remained the only active Wolves player to protest - for the goal, right before half-time.
When it comes to dealing psychological blows, Colchester are second to none. The first strike, an exquisite Jamie Cureton free-kick, saw the U`s staying true to form, by employing a lightening start.
Cureton should have scored before that, with a shot on 18 seconds, which forced Wolves back, and invited Richard Garcia, then Kevin McLeod, to have serious shooting opportunities.
Without doubt, the U`s might have been four up within the first quarter of the game, with Cureton`s goal coming after his early substitution on Boxing Day. Like his finish, the second goal, on 45 minutes, also came at exactly the right time, because it forced Wolves into negative position from which they quite never came back.
Iwelumo, whose goal was greeted by a mêlée of both cheers and boos, did not last the full 90, and was among several injury worries for United. The other, central defender Wayne Brown, started, while eye-injury victim Karl Duguid also returned, coming on as a sub in the 70th minute.
The Iwelumo goal might be a good one for The Championship highlights, but the handball was a no-brainer for this column; when you are in the form that Colchester are at home, those kind of 50-50 decisions seem to go your way. Besides, any Colchester fan will freely admit that is was foul play, even if the referee missed it.
The pre-match chat was all about comparing the bizarre reversal of fortunes for both teams. Colchester United could boast being League top scorers at home, with the division`s most productive strike combo (26 goals between Chris and Curo to date). Wolves, on the other hand, relying on memory, could only try recalling better days for those in Old Gold.
Colchester also put some advice from Geraint Williams into good practice here, addressing his concern about poor ball retention. Dean Gerken had far less to do than his impressive opposing custodian, Matt Murray, who rivals the 21-year old U`s starlet as the most talented, and potentially skilled, young goalkeeper in England.
He kept Wolves in the game, although Neill Collins` late left-footed strike, from the right side of penalty area, was only a consolation goal.
It is worth reflecting that this home game might have been the last for Greg Halford, who could be on the way to any number of Premiership clubs when the transfer window opens on January 1st. Since his transfer request in late August, the right-sided player has been the consummate professional and, in the spirit of goodwill, it would be sporting to agree that he warrants the move, even if most punters want him to stay.
To say that each of the last 11 home wins have been a stroll in the park for Colchester would be discrediting them. The Layer Road factor, though, does work in their favour.
It`s now tempting to write that, with a draw in the next future (QPR away) the U`s can forget about having to battle relegation all together this season. Add two more wins to the current total of 43 points, and then survival is almost certain.
This New Year, ditch 'out with the old, in with the new`. The message from the faithful for 2007 must surely be - more of the same!