Col U V Birmingham - Match Report
In-form Izzet nets as Halford bids U`s goodbye
Colchester United (0) 1 Birmingham (0) 1
Saturday, 3rd February, 2007
Attendance: 5,918 Layer Road
Greg Halford returned to Layer Road, bidding farewell to his former team-mates, as Colchester United continued an impressive unbeaten run of 14 games without loss at home, to draw with promotion-hopefuls Birmingham City.
Steve Bruce`s side were physically imposing, fielding a team without flair players Sebastian Larsen and Nicklas Bendtner, who both made the bench. This selection policy reflected respect shown to the U`s. City`s change in tactics was also a factor that allowed them to avoid a third consecutive defeat to East Anglian opposition in the league.
Losses to both Ipswich (1-0) and bottom side Southend (1-3) saw Birmingham recently surrender the Championship top-spot to Derby, although the Midlands outfit managed to stop the rot here, and also have several more games in-hand over their rivals in the table.
The points were shared, as Birmingham came back into the match, levelling up a Kem Izzet goal - his first in three years - with a Steven Clemence strike, ten minutes later. Both goals, in the second half, came after a first-half that had produced limited opportunities at both ends.
Izzet`s goal, his first since 20th March 2004, opened the scoring in the 55th minute. He correctly anticipated the flight of a rebounded shot - after a Jamie Cureton 20-yard cracker - to become the 11th different United player to hit the string this season.
The first half, with no gaols for the watching Greg Halford to cheer about, saw Colchester begin with typical gusto, limiting their opponents to almost zero goal-attempts. Birmingham`s first effort - which came from ex-Bolton defender Bruno N`Gotty - was via a free-kick; it rattled the woodwork, two minuets before the break.
Surprisingly, none of the current top-ten teams in the Championship have beaten Geraint Williams` men at home this season, although Birmingham did equalise, ensuring that they succeeded where last Tuesday`s opposition, Person - who lost by a single goal - had failed.
Birmingham netted on 65 minuets, with a Clemence goal following a corner, which came directly after Dean Gerken, excellent between the sticks, had made what his manager termed, "was a word-class save." It stemmed from a Gary McSheffery set-piece, headed toward goal by Radhi Jaidi, which lead to the corner, and resulting goal.
At 1-1, Colchester could have made Birmingham another scalp on their spike of sharp-shooters, as substitute Hogan Ephraim forced Doyle into a good save with a cross-cum-shot. Jamie Cureton and man-of-the-match, Chris Barker, also smashed late efforts over the bar.
Both sides seemed happy with the point, while Geraint Williams was also philosophical about the departure of Greg Halford, whose place in the side was taken by another U`s youth-team product, John White.
An impressive stream of young talent has broken into the first-team ranks at Colchester, on a list that also includes Dean Gerken and Gary Richards, who are now in contention for the first XI.
As Halford made headlines for not playing, former U`s star Rowan Vine - as well as non-featuring midfielder Neil Danns - thankfully kept a low profile.