Cureton hat-trick ensures U's victory

A SECOND-half hat-trick from new signing Jamie Cureton ensured a 3-1 victory for Championship club Colchester United in their first pre-season outing, at Essex neighbours Heybridge Swifts on Saturday afternoon.

By Carl Marston

A SECOND-half hat-trick from new signing Jamie Cureton ensured a 3-1 victory for Championship club Colchester United in their first pre-season outing, at Essex neighbours Heybridge Swifts on Saturday afternoon.

Heybridge enjoyed a 1-0 advantage at the break, thanks to Richard Jolly's coolly-struck 11th-minute penalty, but the Ryman League Premier Division hosts were outgunned during the second period.

The U's, who are still without a permanent manager following last month's departure of Phil Parkinson, fielded two completely different sides in each half, as caretaker boss Geraint Williams chose to give all of his senior players a run-out for 45 minutes.


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Cureton and Chris Iwelumo could well spearhead the front-line for the coming season, which will be the club's first in the second tier of the Football League.

And front-runner Cureton confirmed his summer sharpness with three very different goals. Indeed, he resumed where he left off after his first stay at Colchester, which produced seven goals during a loan stint from Swindon last term.

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The U's had two triallists in their first-half XI, in the shape of right-back Lawrie Wilson and Dulwich Hamlet front-runner Solomon Pinnock. Both did their chances of playing in future pre-season games no harm.

However, it was the Swifts who took the early initiative. U's skipper Karl Duguid was adjudged to have fouled striker Sean Marks inside the box, although the infringement did appear to take place outside the penalty area. Jolly sent keeper Aidan Davison the wrong way from the spot.

While Dean Gerken had very little to do in the Colchester goal during the second half, his experienced fellow keeper (and coach) Davison was kept on his toes before the break. The 38-year-old saved well from Michael Shinn's long-range shot on 16 minutes.

Cureton and Johnnie Jackson have been the only two new signings at Layer Road this summer. Former Tottenham midfielder Jackson played in the centre of the park, and he almost grabbed an equaliser in the 22nd minute, surging past two defenders before firing a shot narrowly over the bar.

Jackson will probably take many of the U's corners, and some of their free-kicks, in the Championship. One such corner, on the half-hour mark, ended with triallist Pinnock volleying over the top following Wayne Brown's flick-on.

The new-look second-half U's were soon in control, and Cureton levelled the issue in the 57th minute. Richard Garcia's initial shot was blocked, but Cureton swept home the rebound for a poacher's goal.

The impressive Garcia, who played as a winger, nearly bagged what would have been a breathtaking goal on 70 minutes. The Australian let fly with a spectacular volley that dipped inches wide.

However, Colchester did take the lead in the 86th minute. Kem Izzet floated over a teasing cross to the far post, where Cureton nodded home from point-blank range.

Two minutes later and Cureton completed his hat-trick. He benefited from Kevin Watson's short free-kick, smashing in a 20-yard shot that was deflected into the top corner of the net. It rounded off a satisfactory afternoon for the visitors.

Colchester's second pre-season fixture is at AFC Sudbury tomorrow evening.

Teams

Heybridge Swifts (starting XI): Gray, Pond, Cousins, Shinn, Wiles, Barker, Keevill, Gillespie, Marks, Jolly and Richards. Used subs: Nethercott, Burrell, Cousins, Hawkins, Gregory and Bowyer.

Colchester United (first-half XI): Davison, Wilson, Baldwin, Brown, Duguid, Halford, King, Jackson, Wareham, Pinnock and Guy.

Second-half XI: Gerken, Paine, Richards, Elokobi, Bailey, Hughes, Izzet, Watson, Garcia, Iwelumo and Cureton.

Referee: Mr Michael Bull

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