Crunch game for U's tonight

COLCHESTER United marksman Chris Iwelumo has described the amount of relief both he and his team-mates felt, following the crunch 1-0 win over Swindon on Saturday.

By Carl Marston

COLCHESTER United marksman Chris Iwelumo has described the amount of relief both he and his team-mates felt, following the crunch 1-0 win over Swindon on Saturday.

The U's have a chance to burst into the top two tonight, if they can beat hosts Doncaster Rovers in south Yorkshire, and second-placed Brentford suffer a defeat at Gillingham.

The upturn in fortunes was inspired by Iwelumo's cleanly-struck penalty, which proved sufficient to beat Swindon. It was the Scotsman's 17th goal of the season, and it ended a poor run of eight games without a victory.

“We have always been a good bunch of characters, but I detected a different buzz around the place in training today,” insisted Iwelumo last night.

“There was a big sense of relief in the squad. I personally feel that a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.

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“It was goal No. 17 for me, but I hadn't scored in the previous five-and-a-half weeks, which hadn't happened to me before.

“However, I got the goal and we got the win. Hopefully, this will be the start of another winning run. I feel that we have come over the hill,” added Iwelumo.

Former Stoke and Brighton centre-forward Iwelumo was becoming frustrated, after drawing a blank in eight league and cup appearances. The U's had lost seven and drawn the other of these fixtures, slipping from top spot to sixth in League One.

However, he made no mistake with his 14th-minute penalty against Swindon, which lifted the U's up to fifth. Full debutant Tony Thorpe, who played up front alongside Iwelumo, won the penalty for his new partner.

Iwelumo continued: “Tony (Thorpe) was fantastic on Saturday. He gave us the spark that we needed.

“Tony is a special player, and that shone through against Swindon. He has scored goals throughout his career, although it's taken him time to get fully fit. He's been with us for a couple of months, and he's taken his chance.

“I've had several different partners up front this season, because we've had such a strong squad. Gareth (Williams) is such a good finisher. He proved that in training, although he had no luck in matches for us. Then he goes to Blackpool (on loan) and scores on his debut! That's football for you.

“We may have a couple of games in hand over most of the teams, but I would always rather have the points in the bag. Remember, we even had those games in hand when we were leading the table!

“Doncaster away on a Tuesday night is a very tough fixture. Our other game in hand, at home to Hartlepool, is also an awkward one because they have picked up a bit of late.

“We have some battles ahead, but we know that if we don't finish in the top six, then we will have shot ourselves in the foot.

“And we are still looking at automatic promotion. We know that we could be in second spot by the end of the night, if we beat Doncaster and Brentford lose,” confirmed Iwelumo.

U's boss Phil Parkinson has no new injury concerns, so he may choose to stick with the same team this evening. That would mean a first start on his travels for front-runner Thorpe.

Fellow striker Scott Vernon, who was signed on loan from Blackpool last Friday, with Williams and Sam Stockley going in the other direction, should be on the bench.


DONCASTER ROVERS: Budtz, S Roberts, Lee, Wheater, McDaid, Price, Green, Horlock, Coppinger, Fortune-West, McCormack, N Roberts, Mulligan, Guy, Ravenhill and Blayney.

COLCHESTER UNITED: Davison, Baldwin, Chilvers, Brown, Duguid, Danns, Watson, Halford, Yeates, Iwelumo, Thorpe, Izzet, White, Vernon, Richards, Elokobi, Guy and Gerken.

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