Sweet dreams are made of this..

WOW! Can someone pinch me please? I think that I've just spent the whole weekend asleep, enjoying a recurring dream - that Colchester United routed Norwich City 7-1 in their own backyard!

Carl Marston

Norwich City 1 Colchester United 7

WOW! Can someone pinch me please? I think that I've just spent the whole weekend asleep, enjoying a recurring dream - that Colchester United routed Norwich City 7-1 in their own backyard!

This score-line is the stuff of dreams, the sort of outcome that only ever happens in the most far-fetched of boys' comic-books.


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And yet the unthinkable really did happen at Carrow Road on Saturday, August 8, 2009. The date will live long in the memory of every U's fan who was privileged to watch this historic afternoon unfold.

Where to start? How can you possibly do justice, in a few paragraphs, to such an amazing 90 minutes of football? It was as if half-a-season was condensed into one dramatic afternoon.

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Colchester were simply invincible; Norwich were simply awful. The contrast was so acute that at times it seemed as though the much-used “men versus boys” simile really did apply to this mis-match.

Relegated from the Championship last season, and quickly installed as favourites for an immediate return, Norwich were confident of a resounding opening day victory to banish the blues of a few months ago. The supporters certainly shared this sentiment, ensuring a sell-out crowd of more than 25,000.

For 10 minutes, all was calm. The U's had started brightly but were beginning to give ground to their more illustrious hosts. Things were going to script, but all of a sudden, it was utter carnage!

Kevin Lisbie, on loan for the season from Ipswich, broke the deadlock in the 11th minute, followed two minutes later by a goal from his strike-force partner Clive Platt.

People were beginning to rub their eyes in disbelief when Platt added a third on 19 minutes, and there was still three-quarters of the game to go when debutant David Fox curled home a free-kick to make it 0-4.

Norwich had simply fallen to pieces. In fact, I have rarely seen a side become so completely drained of all confidence, in such a quick space of time. Their players struggled to complete a pass, and no one wanted the ball.

Livewire Lisbie chalked up his second goal and the U's fifth in the 38th minute, to register a remarkable half-time score of 0-5.

There was some respite for beleaguered Canaries boss Bryan Gunn during the early stages of the second-half, and substitute Cody McDonald even netted a consolation goal in the 72nd minute.

But “normal” service soon resumed. David Perkins volleyed home the goal of the game just three minutes later, before fellow substitute Scott Vernon changed the predictable headline of “hit for six” to “seventh heaven” by sliding home the seventh in the 90th minute.

The atmosphere within Carrow Road was a heady mixture of disbelief, anger and irony, with the exception of one corner of the stadium, decked in blue-and-white, which was full of unbounded joy.

Disbelief accompanied the first three goals, not just because of the speed with which they came, but also the hole-ridden state of the Canaries defence, and the shaky display of debut keeper Michael Theoklitos. The Australian had a nightmare.

The anger arrived after Fox had marked his U's debut with the fourth goal, via a 22-yard free-kick.

Two irate Norwich fans ran onto the pitch, in the direction of the home dug-out, with one of them tearing up his season-ticket and throwing it at Gunn and his coaching staff.

This must surely have been a first - a mini pitch-invasion with a season ticket torn up just 23 minutes into the new season!

Referee Rob Shoebridge took time-out to speak to both managers, no doubt to defuse the situation. It must have been difficult for Paul Lambert to control his emotions every time the ball flew into the Norwich net, but he did curtail his celebrations for the later goals. By then the points were already in the bag, and the humiliation complete.

The irony was quick to follow, with many City fans beginning the practice of cheering keeper Theokltios whenever he touched the ball. To be mocked by your own fans on your debut does not bode well.

There were the predictable boos at half-time, and at the final whistle, interspersed with chants of “what a load of rubbish.” It really could not have been any worse for the Norfolk club.

It was their first game, in the third tier of the Football League, for 49 years, and it was marked by the heaviest home defeat in the club's 107-year history! Not surprising, then, that a few thousand home fans had headed for the exit doors long before the end.

But enough of the Canaries. This was Colchester's day.

Platt and Lisbie, rekindling their old partnership from two years ago, were awesome in attack. They were supported by blistering performances from Simon Hackney and Ashley Vincent, down either flank, while skipper Dean Hammond and new recruit Fox bossed the midfield.

There were also impressive debuts from keeper Ben Williams and right-back Lee Beevers, and welcome goals for substitutes Perkins and Vernon, This duo, together with Kem Izzet, were unlucky not to make the starting line-up/

The six-goal margin of victory was not even flattering!

This was the U's biggest away win in their history, and only a couple of goal shorts of their club record 9-1 trouncing of Bradford City (at home on December 30, 1961)

No one could possibly have predicted Saturday's score-line. I had actually settled for what I thought was an optimistic 2-2 draw.

But I will now make this bold prediction - it's got to be downhill from here!

Squads

NORWICH CITY: Theoklitos 4, Otsemobor 4, Nelson 5, Doherty 5, Drury 5, Whaley 5, TUDOR JONES 6, Gill 4 (sub Adeyemi, 58), Hoolahan 6, Holt 5, Martin 5 (sub McDonald, 58). Unused subs: Cureton, Spillane, Lappin, Maric, Alnwick.

COLCHESTER UNITED: Williams 7, Beevers 8, Baldwin 7, Okuonghae 7, Tierney 8, Vincent 8 (sub Izzet, 70), Hammond 8, Fox 8, Hackney 8 (sub Perkins, 66), PLATT 9, Lisbie 8 (sub Vernon, 63). Unused subs: Maybury, Holt, Thomas, Cousins.

Referee: Mr Rob Shoebridge (Derbyshire) 7

Attendance: 25,217

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