“I’m never going to shy away from taking penalties” – Colchester United’s Chris Porter
For Chris Porter, the final whistle was greeted with a heady concoction of joy and relief, as Colchester United were finally free to celebrate another famous escape act, thanks to a 1-0 win over Preston on Sunday.
Porter cut a desolate figure, when seeing his 57th minute penalty whistle several yards over the bar, and into the mass of U’s fans watching expectantly behind Preston keeper Sam Johnstone’s goal.
The fear was that Porter’s penalty miss would prove to be the final nail in the U’s relegation coffin, after a long, hard season of struggle.
The U’s simply had to beat Preston, to stand a chance of staying up, and it was unlikely that they would have a better opportunity, against a team desperate for a win themselves, to go straight up, during the final half-hour.
But Tony Humes’ men did have another chance, and it was Porter who teed up midfielder George Moncur on a plate to slam home the 82nd minute winner.
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“For myself it’s a massive relief, having missed a penalty,” admitted Porter.
“I owe it all to George Moncur!
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“I’m never going to shy away from taking penalties, I never have done.
“I don’t really know what happened. I practised yesterday and every one went in the bottom corner, they couldn’t have gone any better in practise.
“I really didn’t feel any pressure, I just thought I was going to slot it home, but I don’t know – it was just one of those things.
“After my penalty miss – I’m not going to lie – I was thinking to myself that I hope this isn’t the be-all-and-end all, and that I get blamed, so-to-speak.
“But I’m not the sort of guy that will just give in and pack my bags. I still gave it my all, and I’m just thankful that I could set up George (Moncur) for the goal.
“George has a really calm head, in those situations.
“I think he has been brilliant in the last couple of months. He’s scored a lot of goals (nine this season), and he’s made goals as well.
“But I put it on a plate for him today!”
It was a big decision to make, when Porter upped sticks and left promotion-chasing Sheffield United behind, to join the U’s on an 18-month contract in January.
But it has proved an inspired one, with seven goals netted in 21 appearances during the second half of the campaign.
By contrast, he had only seen five minutes of league action during the whole of the first half of the season, at Bramall Lane.
“It’s massive relief that we are still in League One, and that I will still be a League One player next season,” continued Porter.
“I really didn’t want to go down into League Two, because every player wants to be playing at the highest level that they can.
“I could have stayed at Sheffield United, even though I wasn’t playing. They are in the play-offs, and you never know, they might end up getting promoted.
“It was a big decision for me, but I wanted to be playing. I’m 31 now and I just didn’t want my career to fizzle out, and really not be involved.
“And since I’ve been at Colchester United, I’ve been fit and available for every game. I think that I’ve only not started one game.
“So I’m actually ‘made up’ with my decision in the end. It’s been excellent, and the manager and the fans have been superb since I’ve been here. And I think we deserved to win today.”