14th November 2009
Colchester United (Away)
Match Day by Kirstie Bowden
After a relatively uneventful (but long) trip up from Devon to Colchester (in which we saw a brilliant example of how not to park your car), nearing 1pm we were pleased to see our destination, the Weston Homes Community Stadium in our sights. However, with no junction from which to exit the A12 we had to carry on a good 10 minutes onwards (getting perilously close to Ipswich!) before we were able to join the other side of the carriageway and repeat the 10 minute scenic tour in the direction from which we came. We then saw the sights and many roundabouts of Colchesters equivalent of Marsh Barton before we finally arrived at the ground which we had passed a good 30 minutes earlier.
On arrival the sky was so dark you'd be forgiven for thinking it was an evening kick-off. With it raining heavily we sheltered on the bus temporarily before setting off to the away end. It was only once we had walked half way round the ground were we told that we needed to buy our tickets from the ticket office before we reached the turnstiles. Where was the ticket office? On the other side of the ground of course! When we finally reached the turnstiles, having by now walked around the entire ground, we were confronted with a self-service scanner which opened the gate once you'd scanned and retrieved your ticket. That is unless you were Marge who pushed her ticket in so hard that it got stuck. She had to be let in manually.
Inside we made a quick strategic retreat to the very top of the stand where just a few rows had been spared a drenching. However, thanks to the open sides of the ground we still got wet and the wind howled through. At times the roof above us was swaying! The warm-up was interesting. The pitch was just a little bit wet. There were numerous parts of the pitch where the ball wasn't bouncing or moving. One poor groundsman was fighting a losing battle with his pitch roller.
At 2.45pm the officials (incidentally including the ref from Rotherham who was supposed to have retired that day!) performed a final pitch inspection. Looking on we feared the worst, but thankfully the pitch passed. Up until our visit Colchester had the enviable home record of 6 wins in 7 home league fixtures. It was amazing then to see City nearly take the lead with less than 40 seconds on the clock. A further chance came in the 3rd minute before the league table was well and truly turned on its head as City took the lead through a Fleetwood goal. The away end roared. The electronic score board to our left lit up announcing that the away goal was sponsored by the Colchester Barber Shop, where apparently you can get haircuts for £8. Colchester are clearly a club making the very most of money making opportunities - even the goal-kicks were sponsored!
As the first half continued the Colchester swimming pool, sorry pitch, was providing much entertainment. Passes made with the best intentions were just getting stuck in puddles whilst challenges saw the challengers go sliding off into the distance with one player nearly ending up in the dugouts. With just over 40 minutes on the clock Marge asked me how long was left till half time. When I replied "about 5 minutes" she prophetically responded, "oh no it's bogey time". Seconds later, Colchester equalised with a goal sponsored by the Colchester Barber Shop. We didn't really have time to reflect upon the equaliser as just minutes later Fleets won a free-kick. Ryan Harley stepped up and fired home one of the greatest free kicks I've ever seen. We were back in front! Half-time saw the highlights make as little reference to us being the better of the two teams as possible, although Ryans free-kick was referred to as "a belter". The tannoy was up there with Nuneatons in terms of efficacy, although given the all too apparent wealth of Colchester as a football club I doubt they had borrowed theirs from Morrisons!
Throughout the second half City continued to play much better than Colchester. The wind continued to howl and at one point a large 'boom' was heard above us as the roof flexed under pressure! We fully deserved the 3 points. Thanks to a late equaliser we had to make do with just the one. Although disappointed not to have won I would have taken a point before kick-off. It was an incredible team performance, by far the best this season, and we now join Leeds United as the only teams to have come away from Colchester with points this season. Onwards and upwards.
Match Report 2.
Ryan's Stunning Free-Kick
Colchester United 2 Exeter City 2
On a blustery and wet day, Exeter City made a trip to the Weston Homes Community Stadium, ColchesterThe Grecians made only one change from the team that beat Nuneaton Town 4-0 with Marcus Stewart coming in for James Dunne who dropped to the bench.
That meant a back five of Andy Marriott, Steve Tully, Matt Taylor, Danny Seaborne and Scott Golbourne. Alex Russell sat in front of the defence, with Ryan Harley, Bertie Cozic and Stewart in the middle, leaving Stuart Fleetwood and Barry Corr up front.
The game started with City playing into the wind and with a mass of water on the pitch making passes unpredictable and long balls even more so. City, however, had the advantage that a dinked ball over the Colchester defence would hold up in the wind and water and this led to three excellent chances in the first five minutes, all falling to Fleetwood. The first saw Fleetwood through one on one through the middle and from 8-yards out he beat the keeper but agonisingly saw the ball come back of the post into the arms of the grateful Ben Williams. The second chance saw Fleetwood in the middle of the goal receiving a square ball from Stewart, and one on one beat the keeper again, but the defender cleared the ball. Finally after five minutes City got the lead they had threatened, a dink over the top from Stewart saw Fleetwood presented with a similar chance as the first, and this time he made no mistake, and City took a well deserved lead. City continued in a similar fashion but with less obvious chances but were using the conditions to their advantage. Colchester were restricted to a few long range efforts and a series of corners that were well defended by City. Then against the run of play the equaliser came, a run from Tierney down the City right was tracked by Corr who slipped in a puddle. The resulting cross was met at the back post by the giant Platt who powered home the header from close range. Harley had other ideas however and in added time at the end of the first half City were awarded a free kick to the left of the goal and about 25-yards out. Harley hit the ball right footed across the keeper and right into the top corner. It was unstoppable from the moment it left his boot and in the conditions it is a contender for goal of the season.
In the second half City were playing with the wind and the advantage of playing into it was with Colchester. A couple of early chances fell to the hosts with Platt not being able to get to a cross when a touch would have lead to a second equaliser. The second half was more of an even affair with both midfields having passages of play but with very few clear cut chances. On the 70th minute Adam Stansfield replaced Fleetwood and soon found himself through on the left hand side. With two City players in the middle ready to tap the ball home and seal all three points but the cross went to the keeper. In the 85th minute the equaliser did come. From a City throw deep into the Colchester half the ball was won back and immediately played through to Platt. He held off Taylor from the half way line and ran through and finished well under pressure and from an angle. However, any thoughts Colchester had of winning the game were dashed when Elito went in late and high on Cozic and the referee had no hesitation in brandishing the red card to the substitute. But this was all too late for City to capitalise. A late Harley effort drifted wide but in truth was never threatening the goal. So the match ended with a point a piece, which before the game City would probably have bitten your hand off for against high flying Colchester. But if truth be told they would probably be slightly disappointed they did not take all three after dominating the first half. The players, management and fans should all take heart from this performance though. Clearly head and shoulders better than anything we have seen from the lads in Red and White all season and building nicely on the Brentford and Nuneaton games. Golbourne seems to be a real find for a team that has a recent habit of unearthing left backs. Marriot commanded his area well in tough conditions for a goal keeper. Russell sat in front of the back four well and went about his business efficiently and effectively.