Lacklustre Town are beaten in derby

COLCHESTER United played out of their skins to record an historic victory over East Anglian rivals Ipswich Town in a pulsating Championship encounter, staged in front of a capacity Layer Road crowd last night.

By Carl Marston

COLCHESTER United played out of their skins to record an historic victory over East Anglian rivals Ipswich Town in a pulsating Championship encounter, staged in front of a capacity Layer Road crowd last night.

Town were not at the races in the first half, and U's skipper Karl Duguid struck early with what proved to be the only goal of the game.

Lewis Price could only parry Jamie Cureton's stinging low drive, and the alert Duguid reacted smartly to steer the rebound into the net from eight yards out.

It was a clinical strike from U's loyal servant Duguid, who had waited a long time for the chance to play against Ipswich (this was his 365th senior appearance for the Essex club). It was also his first goal of the season.

In fact, this was the first league meeting between the two clubs for 49 years. Jim Magilton's men would have gone second in the table overnight, with a victory, but too often their trademark passing let them down under the glare of the Sky Sports TV cameras.

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Colchester continued to dictate the first period, but Town came back strongly in the second half and they will feel aggrieved not to have been awarded an equaliser in the 48th minute.

Jon Macken bundled home the loose ball, after Aidan Davison had blocked Alan Lee's initial shot, but referee Lee Probert adjudged that Davison had been pushed, and so gave a free-kick to the hosts.

Davison protected the U's slender lead with a couple of excellent saves during the final 20 minutes. He blocked substitute Billy Clarke's shot at point-blank range, and also diverted a goal-bound volley from Sylvain Legwinski around a post.

Town poured forward in numbers late on, but could not fashion an equaliser that their second-half display perhaps merited.

There were several heroic performances from the U's, not least from Duguid and Kem Izzet, who were bundles of energy all evening, and from reliable keeper Davison.

Geraint Williams' men are now unbeaten in six matches, with four wins and two draws to their name. Last night's victory has seen them move level on points with Town, and Williams must be a strong candidate for manager-of-the-month.

For Ipswich, this was their first defeat in six games. Magilton's men were punished for a below-par first-half showing, and this humbling reverse will certainly dent their pride.

The U's were unchanged from the side that secured a goal-less draw at Leicester last weekend, although Town manager Magilton made a couple of changes to his starting line-up.

Simon Walton and Sylvain Legwinski were recalled in central midfield, in place of Gavin Williams and Matt Richards. Williams is set to undergo a hernia operation next week, while Richards was relegated to the bench.

United had some joy down the right flank early on. The Layer Road faithful urged Halford to power forward from his right-back role, but his cross from Richard Garcia's lay-off was snuffed out by defender Jason de Vos.

It was Town who created the first clear-cut opening on six minutes. Jon Macken made the most of Pat Baldwin's mis-timed tackle and charged through the middle. The U's defence was over-stretched and Legwinski had a clear sight of goal, from Macken's pass, only to slice his shot wide of target.

Yet it was Colchester who drew first blood, thanks to skipper Duguid's first goal of the campaign after nine minutes.

Halford and Richard Garcia engineered the attack with a neat inter-change on the right wing, enabling Cureton to crack in a 20-yard drive that keeper Price found too hot to handle.

Price parried the shot, down to his right, and the onrushing Duguid gleefully stabbed home the rebound in clinical fashion.

And the U's nearly grabbed a second goal in the 12th minute, after Cureton was felled just outside the box. Halford looked the most likely to take the free-kick, but instead it was teed-up for Kevin Watson. His skidding low drive was well smothered by Price, who collected down on his haunches.

The hosts continued to threaten from wide positions. Duguid, spurred on by his goal, gave right-back Sito Castro the run-around on a couple of occasions. The U's left-winger left the Spaniard trailing in his wake with some no-nonsense running, earning his side their first corner. Town were glad to clear their lines.

The visitors had a half-chance in the 21st minute. Darren Currie made room for himself on the edge of the penalty area, only to drag his angled shot wide of the near post with keeper Aidan Davison untroubled.

It was proving to be an absorbing first period, and Cureton was close to doubling Colchester's lead in the 25th minute. The former Norwich striker capitalised on hesitancy in the Ipswich ranks to fire in a ferocious shot that whistled only a foot wide of the upright.

Cureton has been stuck on 149 career league goals for a couple of matches, and he squandered another good opportunity to rattle up No. 150 on the half-hour mark. Kem Izzet nodded Halford's lofted ball into the path of Cureton, who blasted wide from a good position.

Ipswich were conceding possession too easily, and they had to defend another dangerous free-kick when Izzet was fouled outside the penalty area. This time Wayne Brown fancied his chances against his old club, although his curling effort was comfortably caught by Price.

Town were living off scraps. Mark Noble managed to turn in the box, yet could not get in a telling shot and Davison mopped up.

Izzet was covering every blade of grass, and the U's diminutive midfielder even tried to out-muscle Town's big defender De Vos as the ball bounced inside the visitors' penalty area. The Canadian was relieved to shepherd the ball back to Price, with Izzet still snapping at his heels.

Alan Lee could have equalised in the 40th minute. Currie whipped over a cross from the wing that left Davison exposed, but Lee was unable to convert at the far post. His low half-volley flew across the face of goal and wide.

The U's were cheered off the pitch at half-time. They had certainly been in the driving seat, although they only had one goal to show for their dominance.

Town were a team transformed at the start of the second-half. Currie swung over a cross inside the first 40 seconds, from which Macken turned to lash in a shot that Davison gobbled up at his near post.

The visitors thought they had equalised in the 48th minute. Danger-man Lee slid between two defenders and cracked in a shot that Davison did well to block. Macken was in the right place to bundle home the rebound into an unguarded net, and wheeled away to celebrate in front of the travelling fans.

However, referee Lee Probert gave the U's a free-kick for a push on Davison. It was certainly a lucky escape for United.

A minute later and Price performed heroics to prevent Colchester from stealing a second goal. Duguid once again glided past Sito and delivered a teasing cross which Iwelumo met with a first-time effort. Price blocked at point-blank range, and Garcia blazed the rebound wide.

Livewire Izzet was a constant thorn in Town's side, and both Legwinski and Macken were booked for fouls on the U's tenacious midfielder in quick succession.

Magilton played what he hoped would be his trump card in the 63rd minute, introducing substitute Billy Clarke for Macken. Front-runner Clarke had enjoyed a loan spell at Layer Road in the U's successful promotion push last season.

Price was called into action again in the 66th minute. Watson delivered an inch-perfect free-kick from the left edge of the penalty area, and Garcia's downward header was on target, although Town's keeper saved with ease.

Seconds later and the U's had appeals for a penalty waved away, when the ball appeared to brush the arm of Richard Naylor.

Davison came to his side's rescue with a marvellous save in the 72nd minute. Lee nodded down Legwinski's cross into the path of Clarke, whose snap-shot was brilliantly blocked at point-blank range by the U's 38-year-old custodian.

Town sensed an equaliser and De Vos was unlucky to see his header, from Currie's corner, take a couple of deflections before being hooked to safety from inside the six-yard box.

Davison was in the spotlight again on 80 minutes. Watson could only half-clear a corner, and Legwinski's 20-yard firecracker was turned around a post at full stretch by the alert Davison.

There were signs of desperation when Lee decided to try his luck from distance. The big man's rather optimistic 25-yard shot flew harmlessly wide, much to the annoyance of his team-mates.

Colchester were hanging on, although there was some light relief for the hosts when Iwelumo climbed high to meet Garcia's cross with a towering header that Price caught under his bar.

Brown was booked for ploughing into Lee from behind in the 89th minute. It was the excellent Izzet who headed away the ensuing free-kick from Currie.

There were three minutes of injury-time, and in the second of these Davison managed to punch Dan Harding's cross away for a corner. From the ensuing corner, de Vos headed wide at the near post, and that was to be Town's last chance.

The sound of the final whistle brought scenes of jubilation among the Layer Road faithful, and the home players delayed their return to the dressing room to join in the celebrations.

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