Stoke spoil Colchester's farewell party
Colchester United 0 Stoke City 1By Carl MarstonCOLCHESTER United's last ever game at Layer Road ended in defeat as visiting Stoke City moved a step nearer to the Premiership.
Colchester United 0 Stoke City 1
By Carl Marston
COLCHESTER United's last ever game at Layer Road ended in defeat as visiting Stoke City moved a step nearer to the Premiership.
This landmark occasion - Layer Road had hosted football for 101 years - deserved a better game than the one served up in brilliant sunshine.
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Stoke grabbed the only goal of the game in first-half stoppage time, with Richard Cresswell bundling the ball home with his knee from close range.
Dean Gerken had done well to prevent Cresswell's initial effort from crossing the line, following a long throw by Rory Delap, but when Liam Lawrence hooked the ball back into the danger zone, the ball ricocheted home off Cresswell.
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It was a scrappy goal, and a scrappy game, although the U's nearly grabbed an equaliser at the death. Substitute Clive Platt had a goal ruled out for a foul, and Kevin Lisbie forced a save out of Carlo Nash in stoppage time. But Stoke held on to win, and move a giant step nearer to promotion.
In fact, they were on course to win automatic promotion on the day until Hull City scored a late winner against Crystal Palace.
There was a real carnival atmosphere in the build-up to the game, with most supporters having come through the turnstiles at least an hour before kick-off.
The stadium was strewn with banners and balloons, most of them blue-and-white except for a splash of red-and-white at the Layer Road End accommodating the Stoke supporters.
Dancers and musicians entertained the crowd, and there were several former Colchester players in attendance, many of whom were introduced to the U's faithful during half-time.
In fact, it was a day for a trip down memory lane.
COLCHESTER UNITED: Gerken 7, Ifil 6, Coyne 6, Virgo 6 (sub Balogh, 43, 6) White 7, Duguid 6 (sub Platt, 88), Jackson 6, HAMMOND 8, Elito 7, Lisbie 6, Vernon 6 (sub Sheringham, 62). Unused subs: Izzet, Cousins.
STOKE CITY: Nash 6, Riggott 6, Cort 7, Shawcross 7, Dickinson 6, LAWRENCE 8, Whelan 7, Delap 7, Cresswell 7, Fuller 7, Sidibe 6 (sub Ameobi, 79) Unused subs: Wilkinson, Pugh, Pearson, Simonsen.
Referee: Mr Kevin Friend (Leicestershire)