Perfect Day at Layer Road
1st September 2007 3pm KO
Colchester, a town only 1 hour 45 mins`s drive away from me in Cambridgeshire, beckoned as a nice sunny day was on the cards. Would however the result at Layer Road prove just as sunny for the Clarets?
Driving a couple of mates down with me, we had an easy journey along the A14/M11/A120/A12 and arrived in Colchester town with some printed out directions of how to get to Layer Road. So we followed them and after about 56 million mini-roundabouts we arrived at Layer Road! The wrong one! Luckily fellow Clarets you don`t need to know now there are more than one Layer Roads in Colchester.
We are told this is the last season they will be playing there and it`s off to Cuckoo Farm for them! (They will change that name surely?)
Mind you looking in the programme, its looks like they have only just levelled off a suitable area!
Anyway we were not too far off our destination and quickly found the right Layer Road. We carried on walking though aiming for the Dragoon pub and what a nice pub it was too. Friendly U`s fans and quite a few Clarets enjoying some fine Adnams real ale and taking advantage of some awesome Chilli on the menu!
How quaint is Layer Road, bless? For the first time in 30 years I had the chance to stand on the terraces, well let`s say in a dilapidated shed anyway! I miss these sorts of grounds though when they are replaced by new characterless concrete new stands. Oh well RIP soon to Layer Road.
Lets talk about the game now after my preamble (OK waffle then!)
The Clarets came away 3-2 winners in a match that was end to end and thrilling especially if you were a neutral. Twice though the Clarets were two goals to the good, only to be pegged back by a U`s goal right on half time and again late on in the second half. The Clarets fans then had to sweat it out with the game delicately poised at 3-2 and with the fourth official announcing five minutes added time! The referee Phil Joslin then compounded the increased heart rates of the Clarets by playing on for what seemed like an eternity!
He finally blew the whistle though and the Clarets had just ended Colchester United's unbeaten start to the season. Make no mistake this was an excellent performance from the lads and the end to a perfect day with three points safely in the bag. We are now twelfth on six points having played three matches with a game in hand. The chances are we would probably have beaten QPR if the match had gone ahead and we would now be sitting in third spot behind Watford and Coventry.
The only downside of this match was the fact that we were twice two goals to the good and took our foot off the throttle letting Colchester back into it at key times. We have to learn how to kill teams off when we are two up!
So how did we line up? Gudjonsson as expected was nowhere to be seen after that poor performance against Oldham in the Carling Cup. James O`Connor was also absent from the bench fuelling speculation as to whether the rumour he had joined Stoke was true, it`s just they hadn`t announced it yet after the transfer window closed midnight on Friday. No news however yesterday so we can hopefully assume Ginge is still a Clarets player.
Mahon of course had an excellent match midweek against the Latics and he was rewarded by the gaffer giving him his first league start of the season. Kiraly as expected was still out injured, so we had no keeper cover on the bench. Duff however had recovered from his abductor injury and was in the back four along with Caldwell, Carlisle and Jordan. New signing, Graham Alexander therefore found himself making his debut in midfield rather than his normal right back position.
The team in summary lined up as follows:
Jensen, Duff, Carlisle, Caldwell, Jordan, Elliott, Alexander, McCann, Mahon, Gray, Blake
Subs: Spicer, Harley, Akinbiyi, Jones, Unsworth
The Clarets were the fastest out the blocks and dominated the first 20-30 minutes of play being two up by the half hour mark. Blake and Gray were linking up well, and in the ninth minute we had strong appeals for a penalty turned down.
Alan Mahon put the Clarets ahead after 14 minutes with an awesome 18-yard strike with Andy Gray then doubling the lead 14 minutes later after volleying in Wade Elliott's cross. At this stage the Clarets seemed to be cruising.
Teddy Sheringham, the U`s veteran striker now aged 84, probably had a quiet game by his standards but he came close to scoring following a misunderstanding between Clarke Carlisle and Brian Jensen.
'The Beast` showed his class though, six minutes before the break, making a spectacular save at full stretch following a curling free kick from Mark Yeates
The U`s, Kevin Lisbie however finally pulled a goal back on the stroke of half time temporarily upsetting the Clarets fans day so far.
At the start of the second half, the U`s came out fighting again although McCann and Mahon in midfield were looking especially confident and commanding. After 30 minutes though we were awarded a penalty and Gray stepped up to confidently put the ball in the back of the net and send Gerken the wrong way. So 3-1, much to the relief of the Clarets fans after an anxious few minutes.
Five minutes after the goal, Alexander seemed to be tiring and looked to have a problem with cramp. After quite a good debut, the gaffer decided to take off the former Preston captain and on came Spicer.
Gray was by now causing all sorts of problems for the ragged and tired Colchester defence. He may well have got a hat trick or more if it wasn`t for the whistle happy referee keep pulling him up! In fact the referee seemed to have it in for the lads in general with Carlisle, Blake, Alexander and McCann all picking up yellow cards.
Steve Cotterill then made the right tactical decision bringing on Akinbiyi after 76 minutes in place of Blake. The extra pace was just what we needed and he may have scored if he had been selfish and not tried to pass to Andy Gray to try and help him get his first hat-trick for the Clarets.(Indeed by all accounts the first of his career!)
Harley replaced a tiring Mahon after 84 minutes with Alan getting a warm applause from the Clarets fans as he walked off the pitch after an excellent game and goal.
Adam Virgo scored a late goal after 88 minutes to make it 2-3, but the Clarets held firm as they played out an eternity of added minutes.
Yes a great away win and days don`t get more perfect than this!
Burnley: Jensen, Duff, Carlisle, Caldwell, Jordan, Elliott, Alexander (Spicer 67), McCann, Mahon (Harley 84), Gray, Blake (Akinbiyi 76).
Subs not used: Jones, Unsworth
Booked: Carlisle 46, Blake 55, Alexander 56, McCann 90
Colchester: Gerken, White (McLeod 34), Jackson, Duguid, Sheringham, Izzet (Guttridge 85), Yeates (Virgo 78), Baldwin, Elokobi, Connolly, Lisbie.
Subs not used: Granville, Davison