Super U's march on
TEN out of 10! Colchester United's sensational home form continued with another goal-fest at Layer Road yesterday afternoon.Ironically, the U's were not at their best, but they still had too much firepower for visiting Luton Town, who were woeful in front of goal.
By Carl Marston
TEN out of 10! Colchester United's sensational home form continued with another goal-fest at Layer Road yesterday afternoon.
Ironically, the U's were not at their best, but they still had too much firepower for visiting Luton Town, who were woeful in front of goal.
The hapless Hatters were shown how to finish by United's deadly marksman, Chris Iwelumo, who bagged a brace to move level on goals (12) with his strike-force partner Jamie Cureton. The duo are the deadliest partnership in the Championship, with 24 goals between them.
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Kevin McLeod set the U's on their way with the opening goal in the 23rd minute. Kevin Watson took a corner short to Kem Izzet, and his delightful cross was headed home by McLeod from eight yards out. It was the former Swansea winger's third goal for the U's, since his move from Wales at the beginning of September.
Iwelumo netted the first of his brace in the 41st minute, to give the U's a two-goal lead at half-time. It demoralised Luton, who had spurned chance-after-chance themselves.
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Cureton laid the ball off for Richard Garcia, and the Australian whipped over a superb cross from the right flank for Iwelumo to volley home in clinical fashion.
It was Garcia who chalked up the U's third goal of the afternoon, just before the hour mark. Iwelumo won a free-kick, and Watson's exquisite delivery was poked home by the onrushing Garcia from the edge of the six-yard box. Geraint Williams' free-scoring troops were celebrating a fourth on 65 minutes, when Iwelumo steamed in to head powerfully past dazed keeper Dean Kiely, following Cureton's pinpoint cross.
Rowan Vine's late consolation, from the penalty spot, failed to take the gloss off what had been another tremendous afternoon for the irresistible U's.
Having lost their first two home games, to Plymouth and Barnsley in early August, the U's have now won 10 on the bounce on home turf. They have the best home record in the Championship.
And it's entertainment all the way. Those 10 home fixtures have yielded 31 goals for the U's, and 38 in all.
Iwelumo squandered a good chance to break the deadlock after only five minutes. The big Scotsman was homing in on goal, following Garcia's excellent poke forward, but he delayed shooting too long and defender Chris Coyne intervened with a terrific last-gasp challenge.
Ex-U's striker Dean Morgan posted the game's first effort on goal in the 18th minute. The Hatters had bossed possession early on, and 23-year-old Morgan tried his luck from distance with a fierce shot that Dean Gerken clutched to his midriff.
Four minutes later and Iwelumo burst clear of Luton's defence for the second time, although the through ball was too wide for him to threaten an attempt on goal. Instead, the U's target man squared for Garcia, whose scuffed shot was eventually cleared for a corner.
United broke the deadlock from the ensuring corner, thanks to McLeod's precision header from Izzet's delightful cross. It was their first effort on goal.
Mike Newell's men should have levelled in the 27th minute. Winger Ahmet Brkovic sneaked behind the U's rearguard, prompting Gerken to advance off his line. Two Luton players were queueing up for a cross into the six-yard box, but Brkovic chose to shoot from a tight angle. Gerken saved with his legs.
Gerken came to his side's rescue again on the half-hour mark. Vine had a clear sight of goal, cracking in a stinging low drive that the U's custodian again blocked with an outstretched leg.
Seconds later and Vine was giving his old club another headache. The Hatters front-runner pounced onto Gerken's poor clearance and charged goalwards, only for Pat Baldwin to snuff out the danger with a well-timed tackle.
It had been a mixed first-half from Gerken. He had put his side under pressure with some indifferent kicking, but also produced several excellent saves. And the 21-year-old was at his best again on 35 minutes to palm away Leon Barnett's thunderous 25-yarder, pushing the ball around his post.
Jamie Cureton was denied a 13th goal of the season by the acrobatics of Kiely in the 39th minute. The Portsmouth loanee arched back to fingertip Cureton's superb long-range half-volley onto the bar, with the rebound rolling to safety.
But Kiely was powerless to prevent Cureton's strike-force partner, Iwelumo, from doubling the U' lead with a slick finish just two minutes before the interval.
Encouraged by his 11th goal of the campaign, Iwelumo nearly scored again inside the first two minutes of the second period. He exchanged a one-two with Cureton before smashing a volley only a foot wide of the near post.
But the U's were soon celebrating their third goal, thanks to Garcia's clinical close-range volley from Watson's 59th minute free-kick. It was the Australian's fifth goal of the season.
Luton should have reduced the deficit in the 61st minute. Kevin Foley charged into the penalty area and set it up on a plate for Brkovic, who had an empty goal at his mercy. But the Croatian winger scooped his shot over the bar for one of the misses of the season.
And it got worse for the Hatters when Iwelumo headed home his second goal of the game, from Cureton's cross, to put United 4-0 up and out of sight.
Gerken was determined to keep a clean-sheet, and he twice thwarted substitute Warren Feeney with full-length saves. However, he was finally beaten from the penalty spot in the 85th minute.
Referee Phil Crossley awarded the penalty for a push by Garcia on Hatters skipper Chris Coyne. Up stepped U's old boy Vine to side-foot home his 12th goal of the season.
However, that was a mere consolation. The U's are up to seventh in the table, and Wolves will not relish their visit to Layer Road on Saturday.