It's home sweet home for Aidy's U's
THERE's no place like home.It might be half-full, muddy and cold, but Colchester United just can't stop winning at the Weston Homes Community Stadium.
THERE's no place like home.
It might be half-full, muddy and cold, but Colchester United just can't stop winning at the Weston Homes Community Stadium.
While Norwich and Leeds both faltered under the gaze of expectant home crowds on Saturday, the U's quietly and professionally went about their business of securing a 13th home league victory of the season to further turn up the heat on the top two.
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This latest victory on Essex soil, sealed courtesy of Danny Batth's 64th minute header, was certainly no walk in the park.
Twice the woodwork denied the lively visitors, while Colchester required a man-of-the-match performance from keeper Ben Williams to stay in front.
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But while Aidy Boothroyd's side rode their luck at times in this match, credit must be given to a patched up defence that held firm to deny Oldham's highly-rated strike partnership of Pawel Abbott and Jason Price.
The U's boss was forced into making three changes to the side which won 1-0 at Yeovil last Tuesday night.
Kayode Odejayi (knee) and Magnus Okuonghae (shoulder) both failed late fitness tests, while John White was granted permission to be with his girlfriend after she underwent an operation.
With in-form Oldham arriving off the back of two wins from three, Colchester could have been severely disrupted. Instead their fringe players stepped up to the mark to give further credence to their promotion hopes.
In a cagey and even first half, both sides created one glorious chance each. Steven Gillespie should have scored when put through one-on-one by David Prutton's visionary long-range pass after 13 minutes, while Oldham's Price glanced a header onto the post just moments later following Abbott's pin-point cross.
It was a similar story after the restart as chances went begging at both ends. First home striker Clive Platt couldn't quite reach Gillespie's driven cross after he was set
free by another superb Prutton
ball, before keeper Williams produced his first important save of the afternoon.
With 55 minutes on the clock, Oldham had looked destined to score when Price's headed knock down fell to Abbott just three yards out. Williams bravely spread himself at point-blank range to add another breathtaking save to his growing collection.
The patient U's then went and broke the deadlock after 64 minutes in simple fashion. Batth made a late run across the box to meet Prutton's inswinging corner from the left and powerfully headed home his first ever goal in competitive football.
It was a morale-boosting goal and performance for the 19-year-old Wolves loanee who had endured a nightmare afternoon in his last appearance for the U's - the 5-0 home defeat to Norwich.
Colchester had Williams to thank for maintaining their narrow advantage on three occasions in the closing stages. Twice he got down quickly to stop low Abbott shots before making a diving save to prevent substitute Joe Colbeck's deflected effort finding the back of the net.
And on the occasion the U's keeper was beaten, Batth got a vital touch onto Price's header to divert it onto the crossbar.
Across the entire Football League, only Newcastle United have now claimed more points at home this season.
They've played one more league game on home soil so far though and a win for Colchester over Brentford on Tuesday night would see them equal the Magpies' 43-point haul.
It's a remarkable turnaround for the U's who endured a torrid settling in period to their new home last season, losing 12 times.
Half-full, muddy and cold - there's no place like home.