Kurtis Guthrie bags hat-trick as Colchester United soar into the play-off zone

Kurtis Guthrie. Picture: STEVE WALLER

Kurtis Guthrie. Picture: STEVE WALLER - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Colchester United 4 Carlisle United 1

Kurtis Guthrie bagged a hat-trick as Colchester United moved into the League Two play-off zone following a richly entertaining clash with third-placed Carlisle at the Weston Homes Community Stadium this afternoon.

It was the first time in seven seasons that the U’s had recorded four home wins on the bounce, going back to Aidy Boothroyd’s era in the 2009-10 campaign.

Chris Porter broke the deadlock, and although Shaun Brisley headed home an equaliser, Guthrie then obliged with goals in the 33rd and 50th minutes, before completing his hat-trick deep into stoppage time.

As a result, the U’s have soared to sixth in the table, leapfrogging Cambridge and Luton, who are in FA Cup action this weekend.

Remarkably, the U’s were in the relegation zone only seven weeks ago, but have now taken 22 points from a possible 24 in their last eight matches, with seven wins and a draw.

The U’s went ahead after just 11 minutes.

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Craig Slater teed up the ball for Brennan Dickenson, on the left-edge of the penalty area, and his cross was superbly headed into the roof of the net by Porter.

It was club captain Porter’s eighth goal of the season.

Carlisle were soon back in the game, however, squandering a couple of good chances before Brisley headed home a 28th minute equaliser.

Left-back Macauley Gillesphey’s deep cross caught Sam Walker off his line, and centre-half Brisley headed back over the U’s keeper and into the top corner of the net.

Just five minutes later and the U’s restored their lead, thanks to Guthrie’s seventh goal of the campaign.

Slater and Richard Brindley both had shots blocked inside the penalty area, but the danger was not over for the Cumbrians.

Guthrie latched onto the loose ball and his measured shot whistled past keeper Gillespie and into the bottom corner of the net, from 15 yards out.

Carlisle peppered the U’s target in the 39th minute, and thought they had equalised. Walker made terrific back-to-back saves, to keep out fierce low shots by Brisley and Adams, before Kennedy finally swept home the loose ball.

But Kennedy was standing in his offside position, so Carlisle’s celebrations were cut short.

The U’s were slightly fortunate to be ahead at half-time, because the visitors had enjoyed the bulk of the chances.

But McGreal’s men added a third goal on 50 minutes, via Guthrie’s second goal of the match, to make it 3-1.

Porter dummied Slater’s cross from the right wing, allowing the ball to run for Guthrie, who gleefully smashed a shot high into the centre of the net to chalk up his eighth goal of the campaign, and also seal the points for his side.

Yet there was still time for Guthrie to complete his hat-trick, in the fourth minute of injury-time, sweeping into an empty net following good work by substitute Denny Johnstone.

Squads

COLCHESTER: Walker, Eastman, Kent, Elokobi, Brindley (sub Wright, 90+2), Lapslie, Garvan, Dickenson, Slater (sub Fosu, 89) Guthrie, Porter (sub Johnstone, 87). Unused subs: Barnes, Vincent-Young, Wynter, Doyley.

CARLISLE: Gillespie, T Miller (sub McQueen, 58), Brisley, Ellis, Gillesphey (sub Wright, 82), Devitt, Joyce (sub S Miller, 76), Kennedy, Adams, Ibehre, Wyke. Unused subs: Crowcombe, Asamoah, McKee, Lambe.

Referee: Le Swabey (Devon)

Attendance: 3,525 (299 away fans)

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