Don`t call it an inquest; well, perhaps it is…
As Colchester`s play-off hopes for this season fade behind Huddersfield, the site looks back at the key individual moments in a dramatic downturn that will probably define the current League One challenge as a non-event where promotion is concerned.
Can we just rewind six weeks… please?!
10) Jon Parkin`s hat-trick for Preston in the F.A. Cup – January 2010
When two Beats met – that`s the nickname both Magnus Okuonghae and Jon Parkin share in common – one played decidedly more beatify than the other.
Preston striker Parkin broke Colchester United moral and his ten-game non-scoring duck by hitting a hat-trick and banishing all hopes that the Essex side could cause an upset against an out-of-form and manageress side.
Poor luck also for Ben Williams, whose own-goal capped an afternoon of ignominy for the U`s and dented their pride ahead of the next league game against Norwich.
9) Paul Reid`s long-term injuries – Summer 2009 & Spring 2010
The committed centre-back, a former England under 19 skipper and once on the books at Rangers, was seen as a defensive mainstay for both Paul Lambert and Geraint Williams before Aidy Boothroyd`s arrival.
It`s probably no coincidence, then, that the U`s kept five of their thirteen clean-sheets for this season when he featured for the club, in between prolonged spells on the treatment table first with a fractured kneecap which delayed his return this term. He`s back on the treatment table now; multiple troubles have culminated in a back problem.
8) John-Joe O`Toole`s injury V Charlton – April 2010
Timing, as they say, is everything. The luckless nature of Colchester United`s second half of the campaign was hammed home by John-Joel`s ligament non-contact injury struck at the worst possible time.
Shadowing his marker, the recalled O`Toole made what amounted to little more than a cameo as his collapse let in the cross from which Nicky Forster scored the game`s deciding and only goal.
Victory against Phil Parkinson`s side might have re-ignited the U`s play-off hopes by taking three points from a close league rival. Instead in reinforced a sorry stat of just one win in eight matches, leaving the player to rebuild his career with a nine-month lay-off expected.
7) The away win record – 2009/2010
The U`s have the joint-lowest away win record in League One`s top ten this season -five, ditto Brentford – and have thrown away glaring opportunities to win after taking solid leads against, for example, Stockport and Carlisle on the road.
6) Darren Byfield`s 90+(4)th-minute winner for Walsall – March 2010
Colchester look likeliest to get the win until Darren Byfield skips past Okuonghae on the counter-attack and steals a win for the home side against the run of play.
Byfield had been on the pitch for about a quarter of an hour and proved what a high currency the goal has in football by placing a decider for his 10-man team beyond Williams at the death.
For travelling fans, by far one of the most frustrating defeats of the season!
5) Paul Lambert`s return with Norwich – January 2010
Colchester United were intimidated by the return of Paul Lambert`s Norwich as their supporters could enjoy some exacted revenge for the opening-day drubbing suffered at Carrow Road in August, watching a 5-0 win.
Although the wet surface and poor conditions were supposed to work in Colchester`s favour, City instead dominated and capped a poor week for the U`s, winning five-nil in the wake of their 7-0 thrashing at Preston in the cup.
Pride and goal-difference dented, that result saw it was proving far from a happy new year for the U`s.
4) Just two goals in one month – January 2010
In fact, January was possibly the most miserable month to date as Colchester went through with just one win to keep them in top-six contention.
Failure to net any goals in attempts against Leeds, Gillingham, Norwich and Preston showed early signs of a wobble.
3) Gareth Ainsworth`s handball goal V Wycombe – March 2010
More dropped points for the U`s, this time uncharacteristically at home, as the derby game against Wycombe is capped-off controversially.
Gareth Ainsworth`s stoppage time equaliser is handled into the net but still given as a goal and levels proceedings following a superbly skilful opener from Ian Henderson.
Ainsworth later admits he knew the goal was illegitimate and the club receive an apology from the offending referee – but not the three points they deserved.
Wycombe, then, had a helping hand.
2) Danny Batth own gaol V Millwall – April 2010
A fantastic first-half display is the best of the year so far – Colchester threaten from most attacks and look extremely lively, despite the poor run of results.
With no long-ball in sight, they are unfortunate to go behind playing a passing style, but don`t rest on their laurels – Kevin Lisbie finds the net to equalise, for only his second strike of 2010.
Colchester, however, don`t win. Danny Batth`s misfortune instead gifts promotion-chasing Millwall three points as his looping headed clearance eludes Ben Williams at makes the final score 2-1.
1) Losing against ten – twice! – March 2010
Boss Aidy Boothroyd is livid as Colchester lose against Carlisle, who have a man sent off in the first half.
He calls the U`s response amateurish, as they surrender a lead meekly following Clive Platt`s opener. He says the side were “average” and his response all-but promises it shouldn`t happen again.
But it does – twice in eight days!
At an almost identical time in the next game, Walsall are reduced in the first half and the U`s go gun-ho in search of victory.
As earlier discussed in (6), Walsall then score to steal the points and put Colchester`s promotion pedigree in the spotlight once more.
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