Colchester V Palace - Match Report
Colchester United (0) 0 V Crystal Palace (1) 2
Sunday, 6th May 2007
Matt Calmus, Layer Road
The Colchester United faithful chanted: "We're on the pitch if Jamie scores," before kick-off in reference to a hope that Player of the Year Jamie Cureton may add to this impressive 23-goal tally, which eventually proved enough to scoop the Championship Golden Boot.
He didn`t score during this game, but those in Terrace Four still got to set foot on the pitch following an evacuation at the final whistle.
A defeat to Crystal Palace ended a fantastic first-ever season at this level, with former Ipswich Town striker James Scowcroft and Ben Watson scoring to deny the U`s a victory with which to sign-off before summer.
Cureton was among many United players no spurn countless chances during the game; it simply seemed that the ball was never going to find the back of the net.
He still won the Golden Boot; Diomansy Kamara and Michael Chopra were both suspended for their respective sides and so neither able to threaten Cureton`s position.
The 31-year old was visibly frustrated at not scoring, although the combination of favours in would have taken for Colchester to reach the play-offs made that fantasy a bit far-fetched.
Preston and Southampton both won, as well as West Bromwich Albion all won; the U`s loss sent them down to a 10th-placed finish.
But the U's almost broke the deadlock within the first minute. Cureton burst onto Players` Player of the Year Wayne Brown's excellent through-ball, trying to steer his shot beyond onrushing 'keeper Julian Speroni. The net was empty; the shot was wide.
Palace continued to adsorb early pressure. Speroni, who looked slightly nervous, made a hash of an attempted punch, conceding a fifth minute corner, which he then saved.
Against the run of play, on 11 minutes, Palace then took the lead. Scowcroft was left unmarked to head home Carl Fletcher's accurate cross. The weak headed beat Young Player of the Year Dean Gerken, who seemed confident that it was going over.
Sixty-seconds later, the U`s went extremely close to equalising. The towering Chris Iwelumo pocked a Richard Garcia throw only for a resulting Cureton overhead kick to parried away once more.
Although there were chances, the game had the end-of season feel, although South London side Palace caused the home crowd to flinch when eventual scorer Ben Watson flashed a header inches wide.
Sticker Iwelumo, probably playing his last game for Colchester, failed to add to his impressive season`s tally of 18 - he netted 19 last year - and will have be diapointed not to break the 20-goal barrier like partner Cureton.
The game was buried in the 69th minute, when Palace`s Ben Watson met substitute Tom Soares' cross with drive that rolled past Gerken and over the line.
Not the best result, but not even a thumping could have taken the shine off Colchester United`s glittering first season in the Coca-Cola Championship.