Fox is Lambert's secret weapon

WHEN Colchester United sold Mark Yeates to Middlesbrough this summer, they bade farewell to their free-kick specialist.

Carl Marston

WHEN Colchester United sold Mark Yeates to Middlesbrough this summer, they bade farewell to their free-kick specialist.

But U's boss Paul Lambert seems to have already found an ideal replacement, in the shape of new recruit David Fox.

Midfielder Fox could not have done much better with his first attempt at a free-kick, on his U's debut at hapless Norwich City on Saturday - he curled the 22-yard set-piece over the Canaries defensive wall and into the centre of the net, eluding the despairing dive of keeper Michael Theoklitos.

That 23rd minute effort put the U's 4-0 up and prompted a mini pitch invasion from a couple of irate Canaries fans, one of whom tore up his season ticket and threw it in the direction of manager Bryan Gunn.

To mark his debut with both a goal and a 7-1 victory was more than Fox could have dreamed, and now he is looking forward to showing the U's home fans what he can do this week.

Most Read

The 25-year-old could make his home debut at home to Leyton Orient tonight, in the first round of the Carling Cup, although much depends on Lambert's team selection for this midweek fixture.

The chances are that Fox will be involved at some point, in the build up to the first home league game of the season against Yeovil on Saturday.

And he wants to start scoring goals regularly, something that has not really happened during his career.

“That's the first time I had scored on my debut for a club,” revealed Fox, who came up through the youth ranks at Manchester United.

“I want to start scoring more goals, and hopefully the free-kick at Norwich will set me on my way.

“I had been practising free-kicks all week, with the assistant manager Ian Culverhouse and also Dean Hammond. Dean skied the first free-kick, and I really fancied taking the second one.

“It was a bit closer to the goal, which suits me, and I managed to get it over the wall and into the net,” added Fox.

Despite the lack of goals during his career, Fox did score on only his second ever league appearance, while on loan at Shrewsbury in 2004. Ironically, it was against tonight's opponents Leyton Orient in a 4-1 defeat at Brisbane Road.

He never played for the Manchester United first team, after signing professional terms in December, 2000, although he did score three goals in 56 outings for the United Reserves in the FA Premier Reserve League North.

At his last club, Blackpool, Fox netted six goals in 94 league outings.

Of course he and the rest of the U's team have a lot to live up to, following the 7-1 demolition of Norwich, which was the club's biggest ever away victory.

“I had never really been involved in a game like that, with a 7-1 score-line,” continued Fox.

“I'm delighted, both from a personal and a team point of view. It was something that none of us predicted. I still can't really believe it. We played really well, and were able to express ourselves.

“We believe that we are a really good team, but this sort of result raises our expectations even further. We had looked solid in pre-season, with a few 1-0s. We know that we are good enough to be up there.

“The first goal really helped us to settle down, and it knocked Norwich back. Then the second and third goals came along so quickly, and suddenly the game was all over.

“I guess I knew we were going to win for sure at half-time, when we hadn't conceded. But we still kept our feet firmly on the ground at half-time, despite the score, because we had to do our jobs. We had to keep going.

“You could sense the home fans were not happy. The players knew that they had let them down, and it can't have been nice for them. But I'm interested in Colchester, not Norwich. I'm sure that they will be fine.

“Of course we have set some very standards for ourselves after this result, and score, and it will be difficult to keep these up.

“I'm sure that a lot of other teams will sit up and take notice of it. Now I'm looking forward to playing at home, in front of our own supporters,” added Fox.

U's boss Lambert mentioned the comparison between Fox and former Manchester United stalwart Paul Scholes, during his post-match interview at Carrow Road.

Lambert said: “When I first signed him (Fox), someone said he's the equivalent of a Paul Scholes. If we can get him anywhere near Paul Scholes, then he'll be some sort of player!

“He's come from Manchester United, has a terrific background, and I don't think he gave the ball away once at Norwich.”

Fox played alongside skipper Dean Hammond in central midfield on Saturday. But Lambert has many other options, if he wants to rest players, with the likes of David Perkins, Kem Izzet, Anthony Wordsworth, Gary Holt and Sam Corcoran all capable of playing in the centre of the park.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter