Bees sting Colchester
Barnet (0) 2 Colchester (1) 1
Yakubu, 62 Cureton, 35
F.A. Cup 3rd Round: Underhill
Tuesday, 9th January 2007
The F.A. Cup will never lose its ability to generate outrageous reversals of fortune, even if Colchester United were on the wrong side of the traditional giant-killing equation at Underhill.
The League Two outfit - 54 League places below Colchester - came from a goal behind to win, with James Puncheon and Ismail Yakubu scoring in the second half.
Forget romance; this tie was a reminder for United that the form book is dispensed with during Cup football. Barnet, whose win evoked past Conference division clashes between the two teams, duly supplied the sucker-punch.
Colchester looked good value for victory before kick-off, and many expected them to gain safe passage into the next round, to face either Peterborough or Plymouth. That luxury instead falls to Barnet, whose comeback probably impressed a brigade of watching scouts much more than U`s right-back Greg Halford, whom eight Barclays Premiership representatives had come to see.
The list of top-flight sides supposedly interested in Halford seems to change daily, as do estimates on his value. One national paper reported last week that it stands at almost £7 million, while the staggering list of potential suitors is now up to nine. Middlesborough, Watford and Wigan have added their names to the likes of Portsmouth and Manchester City, in the race for his signature.
Halford and his team-mates were overshadowed by a Barnet side clearly more eager to win, especially after the interval. Colchester toiled their way to an unexpected defeat during that time, mainly because of a failure to add to the one-goal advantage gained by Jamie Curteton after 35 minutes. The manager, Geraint Williams, then explained his desire to return to the Championship - as underdogs instead of favourites - after the surprise exit.
Adverse pressure was the one factor that Colchester could not have accounted for during all their preparation, but any suggestion of fatigue ought to be cuffed away, since Saturday`s postponement had gifted United an unanticipated eight-day leave.
That period was long enough to allow captain Karl Duguid to recover from injury, and make a welcome return on the bench. He did so, but to no avail, as his 78-minute emergence from the bench was too late to change the flow of the match. This was despite the introduction of other forward-thinking players, Jamie Guy, and Johnny Jackson, beforehand..
Nothing could cancel-out Barnet`s desire to grab victory, and the impressive Yakubu levelled Curenton`s 12-yard shot, by sending an angled drive past Dean Gerken in the 62nd minute. It was followed, 10 minutes from time, by a James Puncheon strike, as the midfielder, latching onto a Dean Sinclair pass, fired home from outside the area.
That shot sealed an historic Barnet victory, but Colchester were left licking their wounds. Greeted by the sound of the cliché at full-time, Geraint Williams totted-out the old mantra about the League position being of more importance than the Cup. It might be true, but this kind of rhetoric spreads an unhealthy idea that the F.A. Cup is just as disposable as many other trinkets within modern society.
Put this attitude down as Colchester United`s chief coping mechanism in the face of defeat. Put the score down as one that gave Barnet £40,000, and enabled them to reach the fourth round of the competition for the first time in their history.
Winning also helped the Bees give Old Father Time the slip once again, because the money gained postpones, for now, the perennial question regarding Barnet`s financial viability, and very survival, in the League.
For more information on Barnet`s campaign to re-locate from the League`s smallest ground at Underhill, see the pressure group website: 'Keep Barnet Alive`, at www.k-b-a.co.uk