Date:Thursday February 15 2007
United undone by double as Baggies burst bubble
Colchester (0) 1 West Brom 0 (2)
West Brom Scorers:
Attendance: 5, 611
Tuesday, 13 February 2007
Matthew Calmus, Layer Road
Cupid`s arrow stabbed Colchester United in the back, as West Bromwich Albion - who moved into second place in the Championship with this win - became the first side to record victory on Layer Road soil since August.
On a night of lashing rain and inconsistent refereeing decisions, Colchester were dwarfed by a superior W.B.A side, whose cutting double-strike inside the space of sixty seconds shook the stands enough to flip the form book upside-down.
Prior to the visit of Albion, Colchester had taken 38 from a possible 48 points, during a unbeaten steak spanning 14 matches at home, while the opposition looked to shake the shekels of an appalling away record under boss Tony Mobray, which had, until now, prevented them from contending for automatic promotion.
Mobray, complaining of fixture congestion and squad fatigue in the run-up to the game, rested key players Kevin Philips and Jason Koumas after drawing with Southampton last weekend.
He had this to say about the inability of his team to collect points on their travels: "We have conceded sloppy goals away from home. If people want to make an issue of when we have picked up points, then so be it. Statistics can be a source of irritation at times."
So it proved from a Colchester perspective, since a win here would have propelled them to fifth place, although the weight of expectation - and comparative lack of squad depth - made the task impossible. That was despite the creditable fact that the U`s held the score at nil-all for 50 minuets.
West Brom bossed the midfield throughout the first-half, via the impressive Curtis Davis, and Senegalese midfielder Diomansy Kamara, before taking the lead.
Having hit the post through Darren Carter after half-an-hour, as well as watched Richard Chaplow flash two shots wide, they scored when one-time Manchester United trainee, Paul McShane, bundled in Robert Koren`s corner from close range.
This would have exasperated Colchester manager, Geraint Williams, whose extra work at defending from set-pieces this week - practiced after losing goals to both Ipswich and Birmingham in this way - appeared not to pay dividends.
Even worse, the West Midlands side quickly doubled their advantage, and in virtually no time at all. Livewire Kamara, again feeding off a Koren assist, weaved his way past a host of Colchester defenders to slot the ball past Dean Gerken.
Tony Mobray`s team then conceded a quick-fire flick from midfielder Johnnie Jackson, whose first competitive goal in United stripes came via Kevin Watson`s superbly delivered corner-kick.
Jackson last scored two years ago, for former team Tottenham in the Premiership, but his crowd-inspired finish marked the end of a flash-flood of goals, all delivered within four minutes. Colchester could not equalise, despite Geraint Williams best efforts from the touchline.
The Welshman attempted create space by summoning wingers Kevin McLeod and Richard Garcia from the sidelines, hoping to play-in the normally prolific strike-fore of Chris Iwelumo and Jamie Cureton. The latter of that pair had taken 33 minutes to trouble Dean Kiely, with what was Colchester`s first meaningful effort.
Cureton also spurred two late chances to level the scoring. One of these was a delicately placed chip that had Kiely scrambling across his line. The referee, too, had a hand in keeping scoring low, since he disallowed one goal for each team before the night was out.
"You can spin statistics any way you want," Mobray had said before the game. One of the most enduring of the season - that timebomb of Colchester`s unbeaten home record - blew up here.
It was so frustrating that one season-ticket-holder even branded Williams "an idiot" because of his glaring failure to throw the pacey Hogan Ephraim on for the fiery final-third of the fixture.
Colchester will come to terms with this minor rejection, but in a week of Valentines, the Championship ironically showed them what it is like to experience some tough love.
Date:Thursday February 15 2007
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