Plymouth Argyle (1) 3 Colchester U (0) 0
Ebanks-blank, 59 (Pen)
Tuesday, 20 February 2007 Home Park
Plymouth Put Three Past Poor U`s
The 508-mile round trip from Colchester to Plymouth would have felt considerably shorter for 200 travelling U`s fans, if only their side had not fallen foul to yet another disappointing away performance.
The loss to Ian Holloway`s F. A. Cup quarter-finalists came as Argyle had only surrendered four times on Home Park soil all season, while United where searching for a fourth win outside of Essex.
Colchester, soon washed away by their own abysmal on-the-road stat, as well as a wave of popular excitement from the home crowd, put up little resistance against Plymouth`s onslaught.
Since each ticket-stub collected by Pilgrim fans also presented the chance to win a seat at next month`s eagerly anticipated Cup clash – against Premiership side Watford – Home Park was buoyant.
David Norris broke the deadlock after just 12 minutes, with his sixth goal of the season. That advantage soon doubled, when former-Manchester United youngster, Sylvan Ebanks-blank found the net from the penalty-spot, awarded after an adjudged foul by U`s centre-back, Wayne Brown.
17-year-old Dan Gosling then added to Colchester`s away-day misery by scoring a third with 67 minutes on the clock, to ensure that the home team did not miss their leading scorer, 11-goal man Barry Hayles, too much.
Hayles, ruled out with injury, had spent the previous night at a Colchester hotel, catching up with his former Bristol Rovers team-mate, and now U`s striker, Jamie Cureton.
Cureton failed to find the net during this fixture, and United looked in for a rough night when Norris was able convert the game`s first meaningful chance early on.
The 25-year-old, successfully scoring after a 20-yard cross-field run, beat the helpless Dean Gerken at the near right-hand post, from 18-yards. He remained threatening throughout the fixture, in tandem with his fellow winger on the opposite flank, Chelsea`s loan starlet, Scott Sinclair.
It was Sinclair`s most recent goal, and his third in Argyle green, that recently made it into January`s Goal of The Month completion on Match of The Day; he looks to be a player of some potential.
United fielded a starting XI with just one change from the side that lost narrowly to West Brom a week previous, with Kem Izzet missing due to suspension.
Surprisingly, it was the first time that Izzet, who recently found the net for the first time since 2004 against Birmingham, had missed a match all season.
United made no other changes, but one extra space on the subs bench was awarded to young Jamie Guy, who eventually got the chance to stretch his legs during the last ten minutes.
Attacking forward Hogan Ephraim, unlike against the Baggies, also emerged in the second half, but only after United had leaked another goal through a dubious penalty.
Wayne Brown was the guilty man; he was booked for unsporting behaviour after his tackle on the eventual scorer, Ebanks-blank. The infringement had actually occurred just outside the box, but with no indication from his linesman, referee Ray Oliver decided to give a spot-kick.
Brown also restarted an old debate during the game, because crowd pressure had twice forced him put the ball out of play, surrendering possession with Colchester in attacking positions. This was because of a suspected injury to an opposing player.
Of course, after much confusion, the rule was supposed to have changed: in the event that any injury sustained by a player is not to the head, then a member of the other team is under no obligation to put the ball out. That decision is supposed to be made by the referee.
Although Brown`s sporting gesture did Colchester no favours, as soon as the third goal went in, his side`s limited attacking opportunities evaporated completely. Dan Gosling`s right-footed strike, his first for Plymouth, then sealed the points, albeit in a very one-side contest.
Plymouth V Colchester – Match Report
Plymouth Argyle (1) 3 Colchester U (0) 0