Targets revised for Jamie and U's
FOUR months ago, if you had suggested that Colchester United would be in the play-off zone going into Christmas, and that Jamie Cureton would be eying up the Golden Boot, then it's likely you would have been certified!After the first five games of the campaign, Cureton was still searching for his first goal.
FOUR months ago, if you had suggested that Colchester United would be in the play-off zone going into Christmas, and that Jamie Cureton would be eying up the Golden Boot, then it's likely you would have been certified!
After the first five games of the campaign, Cureton was still searching for his first goal. The team had also lost all five fixtures, to be second-from-bottom in the Championship, and already they were out of the Carling Cup.
But Geraint Williams' men have not looked back since the day that they held on to to beat Derby County 4-3, on August 26, thanks to a hat-trick from Cureton.
Four months on and the U's are in fantasy land. They are sixth in the Championship table, occupying the last of the play-off spots, and their hit-man Cureton has plundered 12 goals, including a brace in last weekend's 3-0 demolition of Stoke City.
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In fact, former Norwich, Bristol Rovers and Reading favourite Cureton is only two goals adrift of the Championship's two leading marksmen, Norwich City's Robert Earnshaw and Southampton's Grzegorz Rasiak.
“I set myself a target at the start of the season, and I'm pretty near that already,” revealed Cureton, who scored 14 goals last season, seven for Swindon and seven for the U's (on loan).
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“I'll keep that target to myself and as soon as I pass it, I'll set a new target.
“As for the Golden Boot, I'd be happy just to be in the top five. But if I keep scoring, there's no reason why that isn't something I should aspire to.”
Cureton will be looking to add to his tally at third-placed Preston tomorrow. It promises to be one of the toughest games of the season, not least because Paul Simpson's men have won eight of their 12 fixtures at Deepdale.
The U's will then entertain Luton Town on Boxing Day, in front of a sell-out crowd, before hosting Wolves the following Saturday and travelling to QPR on New Year's Day.
“The Christmas period is going to be vital. We've got four tough games, two of them away and two of them at home,” continued Cureton.
“We've got Preston away this weekend, which will be a very hard game, but we honestly believe that if we play like we know we can, then we can get something from the game, whether it is three points or one.
“We set ourselves a target at the start of the season of reaching 50 points. We're already on 37 points, and if we are very close to that target of 50 when the Christmas and New Year games have been played, then we will have done very well.
“But we won't just stop when we get there. Once we get to that target, we'll set a new one, and then we'll keep going and hopefully challenge for the play-offs and promotion.
“It would be a dream to play in the Premiership, but we know it's still a long way off.
“But we've done very well this season, and the lads have all worked very hard. If we keep doing that, then there's no reason why we can't push on for promotion,” added Cureton.
U's front-runner Cureton, whose strike-force partner Chris Iwelumo has weighed in with 10 goals himself, has nothing but praise for manager Williams.
“The boss has been brilliant. He's surrounded himself with the right people, like Ray Harford and Donough Holohan, our fitness coach, and things have worked well.
“He deserves the success we've had so far because he works so hard on the training ground. He looks after the players and we then look after things on the pitch,” concluded Cureton.
West Ham striker Hogan Ephraim has extended his loan spell at Colchester by another month and the 18-year-old will stay at Layer Road until January 23.