Lisbie returns to haunt former club
Charlton Athletic 1 Colchester United 2KEVIN Lisbie returned to The Valley to haunt his former club with a two-goal cameo, and so lift Colchester United off the foot of the Championship table.
By Carl Marston
Charlton Athletic 1 Colchester United 2
KEVIN Lisbie returned to The Valley to haunt his former club with a two-goal cameo, and so lift Colchester United off the foot of the Championship table.
Lisbie turned the screw on his old Charlton team-mates by converting a 15th minute penalty, and then doubling the U's lead with a sublime overhead kick just before the hour-mark.
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The Addicks did halve the deficit before the break, thanks to substitute Luke Varney's deadly finish from close-in, but that was the only time they breached a stubborn U's rearguard.
The year 2007 had ended in such depressing fashion for Geraint Williams' men, with an awful 2-0 home defeat at the hands of Blackpool leaving them marooned at the bottom.
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But ring in the New Year and suddenly things look a lot brighter for the Essex club. They were good value for this win, which was only their fifth of the campaign.
Lisbie was the spark, but even more encouraging was a much tighter display from the defence and the midfield. On yesterday's heart-warming performance, there is certainly genuine hope of the U's pulling clear of the relegation zone over the coming weeks.
Charlton old boy Lisbie was in the thick of the action after just a couple of minutes, when he almost latched onto an exquisite through ball from Mark Yeates. However, keeper Nicky Weaver reacted first to gather at Lisbie's feet.
It was the turn of Colchester old boy Chris Iwelumo to threaten against his former side on seven minutes. The big home striker tried his luck with a 20-yard drive that Dean Gerken clutched to his midriff.
But it was Lisbie who enjoyed the upper hand when earning the U's a penalty, which he duly dispatched.
Kevin McLeod robbed right-back Madjid Bougherra near the half-way line, and burst clear down the left flank. The U's winger squared into the path of Lisbie, who was clearly bundled over by Patrick McCarthy, prompting referee Clive Penton to point to the spot and also book the Addicks centre-half.
Lisbie made no mistake from the spot, sending keeper Weaver the wrong way to rattle up his seventh goal of the season.
Stung into action, Charlton searched for a quick reply. U's defender John White was back in the side after a month's loan spell at Stevenage, but he was powerless to prevent Jerome Thomas from scampering into the penalty area on 16 minutes. The winger dragged his shot wide from a good position.
At the other end, Yeates was not far adrift with a shot that flashed across the face of goal, and livewire Lisbie made a nuisance of himself again in the 25th minute, this time benefiting from Johnnie Jackson's robust challenge. Lisbie's final shot was cut out by McCarthy's late lunge.
There was nothing tight or cagey about this game. The chances continued to flow, and Gerken was relieved to see his old team-mate Iwelumo direct a downward header inches wide of the far post from a Thomas cross.
However, it was Lisbie who doubled the U's lead with his second of the game in the 29th minute, thanks to a marvellous overhead kick.
McLeod cushion-headed Yeates' cross into the danger zone, and although Lisbie could not connect with his initial header, the U's striker obliged with his back to goal, sending a bicycle kick into the roof of the net.
The Valley faithful were becoming very restless, and manager Alan Pardew was quick to make an attacking substitution, introducing front-runner Varney for central defender McCarthy in the 37th minute. Iwelumo therefore now had company in attack.
And it was Varney who obliged with a goal in first-half stoppage-time. Lloyd Sam skipped past a couple of challenges and crossed for the Charlton substitute to sweep into a gaping net.
Varney thought that he grabbed the equaliser in the third minute of injury-time, when crashing home the loose ball into the net, via the underside of the bar. However, the assistant referee had already raised his flag for handball, so the U's still nursed a 2-1 lead at the interval.
It was expected that the second-half would be one-way traffic, with the U's on the back foot, but that was never the case. Jackson had a shot squeezed away for a corner in the 57th minute, and from Yeates' ensuing delivery, Lisbie was just a couple of yards away from burying a header and so notching a hat-trick.
Iwelumo was just a whisker away from netting the equaliser on the hour mark. It only required a touch from the Scotsman, but he failed to reach Sam's low delivery with his outstretched boot - an empty goal was beckoning.
Having already executed one superb overhead kick, Lisbie tried a repeat in the 67th minute. Clive Platt nodded on Yeates' throw, but this time Lisbie could not connect cleanly with his acrobatic effort.
Two minutes later and Lisbie was in more conventional mode, running at the Charlton defence from substitute Kem Izzet's long pass. He had Yeates for support, but went for glory and saw his shot take a deflection on its way over the bar.
The second-half onslaught from the Londoners had not really materialised. Adam Virgo fouled Varney in a dangerous position, on the right edge of the box on 82 minutes, but Iwelumo could not make the most of Thomas' free-kick.
Into the last minute of normal time and Thomas launched another free-kick into the danger-zone. Zheng Zhi was free at the back post, but the Chinese midfielder could not direct his header on target.
The U's hearts were in their mouths when Addicks substitute Darren Ambrose raced onto Iwelumo's header in the second minute of injury-time. However, the former Ipswich midfielder sliced his shot wide, and that was Charlton's last chance.
Many of the home fans booed their team off the pitch at the end, though a few also stayed behind to applaud the effort of their opponents. This was indeed one of the U's best ever performances in the Championship.