Date:Thursday April 12 2007
Frustration at Drome ends in unlikely win
Colchester (0) 2 Leeds 0 (1)
Cureton, 90 + 1
Matthew Calmus, Layer Road
Monday, 9th April 2007
Colchester`s latest Championship clash, against a relegation threatened Leeds, almost became a trickster`s parade, a frustration fair. That was, until the deadly duo of Chris Iwelumo and Jamie Cureton stopped the circus and stole the headlines, by grabbing a goal each within eight minutes.
Smiling assassin Cureton, who has now netted seven goals in his last four matches, fell foul of much calculated stomping from the opposition, while Iwelumo appeared to tussle with their on-loan full-back, Michael Grey.
It was a game with seemingly more deception than the average magic show. Bar cards, of course, because the U`s had the best disciplinary record in the division to preserve.
The frantic pace of the last moments - Karl Duguid`s tenacity won both free-kicks that created the goals - also means a potential top-six finish from Colchester could yet be the season`s greatest illusion.
Talking play-offs is no longer taboo in Britain`s oldest recorded town, then, since it seems to have become more of a naked ambition.
Geraint Williams remains candid, simply saying that Colchester, "are writing a little history of their own." His tactics spoke louder than words, with four on-filed strikers involved late on, but the win made it four games since United suffered defeat.
As Iwelumo, who nodded home the equaliser, put it post-match: "I think we can still sneak into the play-offs. We`re now on our best run of the season, and we still have a chance."
Colchester, who faced Leeds for the first time since their memorable FA Cup dispatch of Don Revie`s 1971 side, won only a second game of the season when conceding the first goal.
This game`s epic comeback was completed when another Duguid free-kick was initially cleared. Second-half substitute, Hogan Ephraim, chipped a pinpoint through ball for Cureton, just left-of-centre, to complete another storming cameo by him.
Cureton then tapped the ball once, before tucking it past Casper Ankergren, just as injury-time commenced.
The allocated four minutes was certainly fair, and Leeds had spoiling tactics in an attempt to ruffle some Layer Road feathers. There were four, clearly pre-meditated, trips on Cureton in all, and Leeds` play, lifted straight from the Dennis Wise manual of conduct, sparked ferocious debate about the line between cunning and outright cheating.
Karl Duguid`s happiness derived horizontally, too; both of the goal-assisting free-kicks were dubiously awarded, probably because of one foul too many from the Yorkshire outfit.
Clearly spurred on by Good Friday`s boos at Roots Hall, skipper Duguid showed great determination, and his delivery for the leveller gave Iwelumo an invitation he could not refuse. The Scot now has 36 goals to his credit since joining Colchester in 2005.
Ephraim was the other outstanding performer, slotting into left midfield for Johnnie Jackson, who moved over to the left when Kevin Watson withdrew with a hamstring problem on the hour. The England Under-19 international quickly detonated the bomb of his explosive pace, which caused Radostin Kishishev to hack him down.
Hogan, who blasted the foul`s resulting set-piece over the bar, chimed in with the play-off mantra in the local press, saying that Colchester had to win "three of our last four games" to make sixth place.
Wayne Brown, aiming for a complete appearance record for the season, was equally realistic in the club`s machday programme. Ahead of a run-in that includes Hull City, Sunderland, Stoke and Crystal Palace, he said: "I`d much rather be talking about the play-offs than the relegation zone. If we win the next couple of matches, which we fully intend to do, we are aiming to keep pressure on the top six."
That target is what keeps the U`s fighting. Leeds, who fought here, had their first chance after twenty minutes on the clock, when David Healy looked to beat Dean Gerken with an effort that eventually rolled wide. Healy popped up again at the end of the first period, this time at the far post. He really should found the net, instead blazing the ball over from a great position.
The goal scored by USA man Eddie Lewis struck, on a breakaway in the second half, gave Leeds the lead through. It was well taken, and looked to have sealed his side`s fifth win on the bounce.
They eventually lost because of what manager Wise had described as a "mad 10 or 12 minutes" of positional indiscipline at the closure of the second half.
At full time, Jonathan Douglas then lost his temper with the referee - he was sent-off, adding to Leeds` woe. The game, with all its drama, ended in an unlikely victory that conjured, in its own way, the spirit of 1971.
Date:Thursday April 12 2007
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