Date:Sunday August 9 2009
IT RAINED disregarded City season tickets and goals at Carrow Road yesterday, as Colchester United hit Norwich for seven on the first day of the new football season. Sixteen months ago, the hosts thrashed Colchester in the Championship to effectively confirm the Essex-side`s relegation to England`s third tier. Post-match chants that day promised they`d never face United again.
On Saturday, though, they did. This time, former U's man Jamie Cureton, who did all the damage with a ninth professional hat-trick in a 5-1 rout that day, was chained to the bench where he could do no more damage.
Colchester`s ambitiously-attacking away line-up yesterday included several fast-paced midfielders, plus some summer signings making their first starts. Midfielder David Fox, who went on to score a fabulous free-kick, was joined by three other debutants. Wingers Simon Hackney and Ashley Vincent also formed the other forward-thinking selections by United manager, Paul Lambert.
The U`s also welcomed back Kevin Lisbie, partnering reported Canary summertime target, Clive Platt up front. As United entered dreamland with a beautifully unexpected goal-blitz, both scored a salvo each, as their side went five up before half-time. With 38 minutes gone, Colchester`s nigh-on 2,000-strong contingent had silenced a fast disappearing home crowd and shocked both their own fans and much of the football fraternity in the process.
Little did a home side containing ex-Colchester transfer targets, Norwich new-boys Grant Holt and their now vice-skipper, Michael Nelson, expect such a blood-and-thunder finishing lesson from underdogs, the U`s.
It was their first game at this level for nearly half a century, but City gave such a poor account of themselves that Colchester inflicted a worst-ever defeat in history on a severely off-form team. More than that, the result saw Colchester United record thier biggest league win yet.
City`s unexpected capitulation came off the back of an undefeated summer of warm-up games and 12 new squad additions, but neither of those facts helped prevent Colchester`s magnificent East Anglian ambush.
Lisbie`s, and the U`s, first goal was an absolute gift. City Keeper, another first-gamer Michael Theoklitos, was left in no man`s land with an awfully stray back pass from defender, Jon Otsembor. A self-confessedly half-fit Lisbie had enough about him, however, to round the stopper and slide the ball gratefully into a gaping net.
The scorer did not look any inch of the supposedly out-of-form player he said he was; despite missing almost all of Ipswich Town`s pre-season, the Jamaican assisted Platt for a far-post tap-in and second Colchester goal. Platt was also helped by Theoklitos` half-attempted save from the initial shot from Lisbie.
The dominating U`s next found Platt`s head for his double, putting Colchester three up. The 6` 4" striker capitalised on a neat left-sided Simon Hackney cross to find goal again. Later, as Fox found goal number four, hitting home a perfectly-flown free-kick from twenty-two yards, it all got too much for some of the City faithful.
Two distraught Norwich fans threw their season tickets at boss Bryan Gunn in disgust at their team`s abysmal performance, and were duly escorted from the action.
However, it was new heights for Colchester before the break as Lisbie grabbed his second thanks to Platt`s flicked knock-down. Stemming from a Marc Tierney long-throw, the on-loan man finished a simple six-yard header by easily escaping his marker. It had Colchester fans doing cartwheels by half-time, and the remaining Norwich supporters vocally relaying just how rubbish their team had been during the first period.
Half-time: U`s 5 City 0
At 49 minutes, Lisbie ought to have become a hat-trick hero on his first game back in Colchester colours. The livewire tripped over his own feet as the ball got stuck beneath him at the start of the second-half.
Substitutes David Perkins and the in-form striker, Scott Vernon, who was also allowed a virtually open goal from which to make his mark, both added to the U`s impressive tally. They put the club in an improbable place: an experience of seventh heaven.
Perkins himself had pledged to score more goals this time around and delivered with a drilled side-foot volley, while Vernon continued competitively where he left off during those practice fixtures.
Although Norwich did claw one goal back, through Cody McDonald, nothing could ruin Colchester`s day - least of all the suggestion of offside as McDonald slipped the ball through Williams' legs. Call it revenge for Cureton`s crushing three goals last time out, if you like. Colchester's Magnificent Seven? You can write the headlines, folks.
U`s: Williams, Beevers, Okuonghae, Baldwin, Tierney, Vincent (Izzet, 70 min), Fox, Hammond, Hackney (Perkins, 66), Lisbie (Vernon, 62), Platt. Subs: Cousins, Maybury, Holt, Thomas.
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