Tierney is the surprise hero

MARC Tierney celebrated his first goal in a Colchester United shirt as Paul Lambert's men ended a run of three straight defeats, at the expense of play-off hopefuls Stockport last night.

Carl Marston

Colchester United 1 Stockport County 0

MARC Tierney celebrated his first goal in a Colchester United shirt as Paul Lambert's men ended a run of three straight defeats, at the expense of play-off hopefuls Stockport last night.

Tierney was the unlikely hero, and certainly the unlikely man to end the U's recent scoring drought. Almost five hours had elapsed (295 minutes, without taking into account injury-time), since David Perkins had scored the U's previous goal at Carlisle on January 31.

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Left-back Tierney struck with what proved to be the only goal of the game in the 17th minute.

The former Shrewsbury defender timed his run to perfection to head home Kem Izzet's swirling cross. The ball dropped into the net via the underside of the bar.

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That was the key moment of the game. The only other real highlight arrived just three minutes later, when Jimmy Walker pulled off a jaw-dropping save to prevent Johnny Mullins' bullet header from flying into the roof of the net. It was a candidate for the save of the season.

The U's have therefore climbed one place in the League One table to 11th spot, and this sixth home win of the season has at least kept alive their faint hopes of scraping into the play-offs.

Ironically, while Saturday's defeat to Southend had been played in front of a record U's crowd (8,651) for the Community Stadium, last night housed the smallest gate of just 3,179.

The U's faithful were at least rewarded with a hard-working and disciplined display from their team, with winger Simon Hackney impressing on his full debut.

Stockport's cause was certainly not helped by the unsettling news, before kick-off, that their manager Jim Gannon had been given permission to speak to Brighton by his chairman this morning.

Gannon therefore looks set to be the new Seagulls boss, following the departure of Micky Adams on Saturday morning.

Lambert tinkered with his team by making a couple of changes to the side that lost the Essex derby to Southend on Saturday.

Paul Reid was back after serving a one-match suspension against the Shrimpers. He replaced Matt Heath in the heart of defence, while Simon Hackney was handed his first start since his switch from Carlisle. Scott Vernon was relegated to the bench.

The U's lined up with Clive Platt as the lone striker, flanked by wingers Hackney and Mark Yeates.

And Platt was soon walking a tightrope, after being booked for a foul on defender Johnny Mullins on eight minutes.

Three minutes later and the hosts created the first chance with some slick football.

Hackney nipped behind the Stockport defence to control Yeates' through ball, and set up David Perkins.

The bustling midfielder had scored in the 2-1 win at Edgeley Park earlier in the season, but this time his shot on the turn was parried by keeper Owain Von Williams.

But Perkins did play a part when the U's broke the deadlock in the 17th minute, although it was Tierney who will get all the plaudits for starting and finishing the move.

Tierney surged through the middle of the park on a powerful run, and his through ball was helped on by the tenacious Perkins into the path of Izzet.

The final cross from Izzet was perfectly weighted for the onrushing Tierney to head home via the underside of the bar.

It was only the second goal of Tierney's career, following a strike against Dagenham while in the colours of his previous club Shrewsbury last season.

Stockport were desperately unlucky not to equalise in the 20th minute.

In fact, they will wonder how Mullins' header from a corner did not fly into the roof of the net. Instead, Walker intervened with a breathtaking save.

Grateful to their keeper for this wonder save, the U's went in search of a second goal before the break.

Perkins fired a long-range shot just inches over the bar on the half-hour mark, while Platt was close to diverting home Hackney's penetrating cross from the left flank.

Hackney continued to look impressive on his full debut. He whipped over another dangerous low cross into the six-yard box in the 37th minute, only for Yeates to see his instinctive prod take a deflection wide of the near post.

The U's started the second-half brightly and were soon peppering Stockport's goal. Hackney had a curling shot fizzing wide off a defender, and he then turned creator with a cross that Yeates headed narrowly off target.

But the game then rather drifted throughout most of the second period, with a tiring Hackney finally substituted after 71 minutes. Scott Vernon also came on for Platt up front.

Chances dried up until the 85th minute, when the hard-working Izzet sliced a shot wide from a promising position. At the other end, Pat Baldwin made a marvellous last ditch tackle on striker Chris O'Grady, and so ensure that the U's held on to their narrow lead.

With a job well done, United now host their third successive home game of the week on Saturday, with Hartlepool the visitors.


COLCHESTER UNITED: Walker 7, Maybury 7, Baldwin 7, Reid 7, Tierney 8, Perkins 8, IZZET 8, Hammond 7, Hackney 8 (sub Wordsworth, 71), Yeates 7 (sub Coyne, 87) Platt 7 (sub Vernon, 76). Unused subs: Gillespie, Cousins.

STOCKPORT COUNTY: Fon Williams 7, MULLINS 7, Tunnicliffe 7, Raynes 6, Rose 7 (sub McSweeney, 76), Blizzard 6, Dicker 5 (sub Johnson, 46), Turnbull 5 (sub Mainwaring, 46), Rowe 6, O'Grady 6, McNeil 6. Unused subs: Rigby, Thompson.

Referee: Mr J Linnington (Isle of Wight)

Attendance: 3,179

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