If only the U's played every game away

IF Colchester United could play every game on the road this season, then they would probably win promotion.Once again they proved their doubters wrong with a fantastic away win at fallen giants Leeds United, just seven days after slumping to a home defeat at the hands of lowly Hereford.

Carl Marston

IF Colchester United could play every game on the road this season, then they would probably win promotion.

Once again they proved their doubters wrong with a fantastic away win at fallen giants Leeds United, just seven days after slumping to a home defeat at the hands of lowly Hereford. It just doesn't make sense.

Woeful at home, brilliant away.

That's the stark reality of life in League One for Jeykll and Hyde Colchester. And Saturday's eye-catching success was no fluke. They fully deserved the win.

Only two clubs outside the top six (Stockport and Huddersfield) can boast a better away record than Paul Lambert's men in League One. Yet they are stuck in 16th spot, due of course to a terrible record at their new Community Stadium.

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Leeds are not the force of old. They are a pale shadow of the club that lifted the old First Division title in 1992, and went on to grace the Champions League semi-finals.

They had also lost their previous three games, although all three had been away from home. Gary McAllister's beleaguered troops must have been confident of reinforcing their play-off push against the U's, especially when Robert Snodgrass handed them the lead on 35 minutes.

But they had run out of ideas long before the final whistle, outsmarted by lethal finishes from Dean Hammond and the effervescent Mark Yeates, and undone by their hot-headed midfielder David Prutton, who was sent off.

In fact, Colchester scored both of their goals when the opposition were reduced to 10 men, the first of them temporary and the second permanent.

Snodgrass had broken the deadlock against the run of play. He latched onto keeper David Lucas' big kick upfield and gave both centre-halves Paul Reid and Chris Coyne the slip before planting a low shot past Jimmy Walker.

The equaliser arrived at the ideal time, in the last minute of normal time at the end of the first-half. Leeds were angry that referee Nigel Miller had insisted that Rui Marques should leave the pitch to change his blood-splattered shirt. It was certainly the talking point among home fans at half-time.

Down to 10 men when defending a corner, with centre-half Marques looking on helpless from the sidelines, Leeds' frustrations were doubled as Hammond made them pay with a slick header.

Yeates whipped over an exquisite corner for Hammond to head home from the front edge of the six-yard box. It was the U's skipper's second goal since his move from Brighton at the start of the year.

Colchester have had a tendency to concede goals at the end of first and second halves this season, so it was a welcome change to go into the dressing room with a spring in their step.

The comeback was complete midway through the second period. Prutton had already been booked for dissent late in the first half when he chopped down David Perkins on the left fringe of the penalty area.

It was a clear foul and Mr Miller felt it deserved a second yellow and ensuing red card - the Durham referee certainly wasn't worried about further infuriating the Elland Road faithful.

Leeds may have been down to 10 men, but it wouldn't have mattered if they had stationed 14 players in the penalty area for Yeates' free-kick. The Dubliner nonchalantly curled a right-footed shot into the far corner of the net, via the far post.

It was a goal worthy of winning any match.

There was still a quarter of the game to go, and Leeds had four strikers on the pitch following the introduction of substitutes Malcolm Christie and Enoch Showunmi.

Jimmy Walker produced heroics to finger-tip away a free-kick from Alan Sheehan, and Hammond came to his side's rescue by clearing a goal-bound header off the goal-line.

But it was not really backs-to-the-wall from the U's. They looked in command during the closing minutes, despite the home side's potential firepower.

The one sour note for the visitors was an injury to Jermaine Easter. The Plymouth loanee limped off with an injured knee midway through the first period, and looks set for a spell on the sidelines.

The U's will certainly miss Easter's pace up front, but they coped well at Leeds and will be confident of notching another away win at Luton tomorrow evening, in the southern area semi-final of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy.

It's fun on the road.

Squads

LEEDS UNITED: Lucas 6, Hughes 6 (sub Showunmi, 76), Marques 5, Telfer 7, Sheehan 7, Kilkenny 6 (sub Christie, 61), Douglas 7, Prutton 5, DELPH 8, Snodgrass 8, Becchio 6. Unused subs: Michalik, Howson, Ankergren.

COLCHESTER UNITED: Walker 7, Maybury 7, Coyne 7, Reid 7, Tierney 8, Izzet 7 (sub Jackson, 76), HAMMOND 8, Perkins 8, Yeates 8 (sub White, 86), Platt 7, Easter 6 (sub Vernon, 26, 6). Unused subs: Wordsworth, Gerken.

Referee: Mr Nigel Miller (County Durham) 7

Attendance: 19,625

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