Forty-eight hours after Colchester United`s cathartic win over Bradford City, a club first in the league since October, early disbelieving grins from Kane Vincent-Young during an extended injury break spring to mind as perhaps contender for the evening`s defining freeze frame.
The full back, like hardy travelling fans & countless more watching in Essex via an inaugural in-house beam back broadcast, must have seen team mate Tom Eastman`s blood loss as yet another bad omen for United & thought it all he could do to crack a smile at conspiring events. He`d seen this one before. We all had. As Eastman changed soiled shirts after a clash, his compatriot Vincent-Young could not have known the night would end pretty much as it started. Strained smirks gave way to pretty much unabated euphoria all round on the final whistle.
Eastman will be relieved too. Back from suspension here, he`d had already suffered similar (if worse) hurt against Tottenham in the F.A. Cup recently, at the heart England`s leakiest defence (last count 79 domestic goals conceded). In short, Eastman, like Colchester, needed that skull jolt like a hole in the head.
Maybe that moment was a wake-up call. Who knows? Something must have knocked sense into a U`s side that has struggled for so long to get a foothold in games like these, & thus League One itself. Bottom, they`d mustered zero shots on target last time out verses fellow strugglers Shrewsbury. Even casual observers said they looked like sleepwalking down a division without even so much as a fight.
For fight, read also: win. Although opposing manager & one-time U`s saviour Phil Parkinson warned that anything like a lacklustre performance would be punished by the visiting U`s, popular opinion spoke against him. Many have ventured lately that Colchester would simply sink like a stone without tasting triumph again between now & May. Their form in freefall suggests it. But a determined display & positive result against Valley Parade`s play-off chasers at least consigned that ugly myth to history`s dustbin.
Regular watchers are instead asking: what went right? As are columns like this, if only because it makes a refreshing change from writing prolonged & painful pre-demotion obituaries. Ones making the kind of statements, that if read by the side`s rookie manager, Kevin Keen, no doubt contributed to his self-confessed ‘sleepless nights.`
After all, there`s only so many times your local supporter can look you in the eye & wryly spin that yarn about suffering death by a thousand cuts. (Nineteen, actually. That`s exactly how long it`d been since Colchester last chalked up the maximum available points). Ouch.
Some watching live inside the stadium`s Layer Suite joked that players must`ve been able to hear them shouting, all the way from Yorkshire. The blessing of a good score made that lively & well-attended beam back feature a success.
Others could not help noting a delicious irony that the incoming Tony Humes, reinstated publically that day as Director of Football, might just be able to take credit for such an unlikely acquisition away from home. The first, of course, since he left under a cloud & cacophony of boos back in autumn. You`d suspect he will not relish a return to his unwanted role as pantomime villain, possibly making this reappearance mid-action, & in such a prominent position, something of a surprise.
Bradford have now fallen to the U`s twice this term, which makes them the only team over which Keen`s side boast a double so far.
These are small mercies given Colchester are mired in minuses at the table`s wrong end. But sill.
At least victory’s distraction puts brakes on any traction behind those inevitable ‘meet the new boss, same as the old boss` headlines which are sure to surface as news of Humes` swift return sinks in.
Stop press, our stuck record might be changing. Because for Colchester United right now, there`s reason to smile again. Any dream – any win – will do.
Written by Matt Calmus.
Beam Back Success As Fans Clutch For Omens
Beam Back A Success As Colchester Fans Clutch For Precious Omens