Match Report


Tue 18 Aug 09

  A united United ended a difficult day for the club on a high note, as they came from behind to defeat Gillingham 2-1.

Caretaker boss Joe Dunne had promised his players would fight and show true Colchester spirit and they put in a hugely professional display to come from behind and collect their third three points of the season.

They were backed by some superb backing from the stands as the U's fans reacted in perfect fashion to show their support for their side as everyone at Colchester United look to move forward into the next chapter of their history. The ground was rocking at times and it is increasingly becoming the case that the Weston Homes Community Stadium is feeling like a place to call home Determined to be united behind United, the U's fans - right the way around the ground - were loud and proud as the two teams took to the pitch against the Gills.

The U's players, who were no doubt surprised by the day's developments, huddled together before kick-off ready to take on the Kent side and begin the post-Lambert era in style.

They were the first team to have a shot on goal as a ball across the area fell at the feet of Vincent, who sliced his effort well wide of the target. That was followed up by some persistence by Lisbie, who wrestled Fuller off the ball before wriggling towards goal and driving in a shot that was deflected behind for a corner. From the resultant set piece, the ball eventually fell to Fox who shaped a lovely low drive on the angle that Julian did well to save and the loose ball ran agonisingly away from the outstretched boot of Vernon. The early stages certainly demonstrated a U's side that was still full of verve and commitment and not flattened by the events of the afternoon. However, they fell behind on twelve minutes as they got in down the U's right and it was left to Weston to slide home from close range with Williams left exposed. There was then a nervous moment after the goal as Fox nodded the ball back to Williams, only for Okuonghae to help it on its way and wrongfoot his goalkeeper. Williams recovered to smash the ball away from danger. The visitors then had a corner cleared off the line by the awaiting Izzet as they threatened to grab a second.

But the U's were made of sterner stuff, and almost had a clear sight of goal on the quarter hour mark as a ball swung in by Tierney saw Gowling slip and it just evaded Lisbie and Vernon. There were battles on either side were pace for the two teams was causing danger - Lisbie troubling Richards and Barcham worrying Beevers down the U's right. It was Beevers who put in the next dangerous cross just after twenty minutes and again it slipped just pas the awaiting U's men. Gowling then came to the Gills rescue as a lungbursting run from Vernon slid in Lisbie into the box and the defender stuck out a leg to turn it behind. Hackney drilled the ball over the bar. The U's were then presented with a free kick on the edge of the box as Julian picked up outside of the area with Lisbie pressing - but the keeper somehow escaped any kind of caution for his misdemeanour. The first free kick was well cleared by the Gills defence, but the ball was thrust back into the danger area by Beevers and Baldwin got free, but couldn't loop his header over Julian to the far post. The U's were hassling and harrying and, having seen off a spell of Gillingham pressure around the half hour mark, Lisbie managed to earn space after a Fox pass to smash a shot just beyond the near post. But Miller should maybe have doubled the Gills advantage as Barcham again got away down the left, cutting the ball in for the onrushing midfielder, who smashed fiercely over the bar. The U's earned a corner on 30 minutes as Richards headed over his own bar, and from the set piece it came out to Vincent, who scooped an effort that had Julian flatfooted but hit the framework behind the goal as it nestled just wide. The home team again rode a spell of Gillingham pressure before Lisbie escaped going forwards and had the presence of mind to roll it back into Vernon's path - his strike partner stroking home a gorgeous goal into the far corner. That goal woke up the U's support, who had been watching on nervously as their side worked to get back into the game. And it had the Gills rattled as the home team again stepped up their activity levels to go into the half time interval with their tails up. That said, they were thankful to Tierney, who was the man on the spot to clear the ball from under the bar when another dangerous ball was put in by Barcham.

The scores were all square at the break, but the U's went close on 52 minutes as Vincent smashed a cross just past the far post before Vernon opted to cross rather than shoot a couole of minutes later. Okuonghae then showed fantastic determination to get back in behind the pacey Jackson, denying the striker the chance to cut the ball back to his awaiting team-mates. Beevers then showed similar grit to recover from Barcham getting back inside to ensure that the wide man didn't have a chance for a clean shot at goal.

Completing the hat-trick as the Gills asked questions of the U's defence, Izzet got a brave boot in down the right on 59 minutes to ensure that the ball didn't reach the penalty area with visiting players ready to shoot. Former U's man Richards did almost put the visitors back in front on 61 minutes though, sliding in at a corner to divert the ball past the woodwork with Williams happy to watch the ball go by. The U's then had a great chance of their own as Izzet rose highest to head the ball back into the danger area, where Vincent helped it on at close range, only to see his effort deflect wide off Lisbie. But the home side manage to get their noses in front on 66 minutes, thanks to some superb play by Vernon.

He picked up the ball just inside the Gillingham half and turned superbly to get away from his man. Spotting the run of Lisbie, he slid an inch perfect ball through to his strike partner. He in turn took his time to pick his spot and slot the ball beyond Julian into the far corner. The U's were fired up now and the crowd was jumping. Whilst there was still time to go, the growing sense that the new stadium was becoming 'home' could not be ignored. Beevers then sent over a dangerous cross on 70 minutes that just eluded Vernon, but Hackney picked up the pieces and sent over an even better cross that Lisbie back-headed narrowly over the bar. That was followed by a determined spell by the U's, who showed great tenacity to get the ball back and ensure that the Gills were to experience more home pressure. The U's nearly grabbed a crucial third on 76 minutes, Fox stepping up to hit a free kick that was first deflected on its path to Julian and then spilt by the keeper. A minute later and Vincent and Vernon combined down the right to send the winger into the box but, cutting in on his weaker left foot, he curled his effort over the crossbar. The U's were maintaining their defensive shape well, but decided to make their first change of the game on 83 minutes as Thomas came on for his debut to add fresh legs in place of Vincent, who had worked exceptionally hard. The Gills were starting to lose momentum and Miller drilled a free kick wide of goal with five minutes remaining in a brief moment of worry for the home team. They took off Bentley for Erskine shortly afterwards as they sought a path back into the game, although some cries from the away end suggested the change should have been made earlier. Thomas was giving the U's a useful outlet down the right, both defensively and offensively, and he won a free kick late in the game that Hackney used to force an acrobatic save out of Julian.

The U's made their second change by replacing the free kick taker with David Perkins for the last moments of the match. Having run down the clock, the U's players celebrated in some style with their fans around the ground.

As one, they went over to the support that had backed them so well through the past twenty-four hours.

It was truly a case of Colchester United, united.

U's: Williams, Beevers, Okuonghae, Baldwin (c), Tierney, Vincent (Thomas), Izzet, Fox, Hackney (Perkins), Vernon, Lisbie (Wordsworth)

Subs: Cousins, Maybury, Holt, Malton
    Data provided by Press Association

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