U's lack the killer touch in bore draw

KEM Izzet was almost knocked out by a blistering free-kick which struck him full in the face during Saturday's bore draw against Burnley.Izzet joked afterwards that he couldn't remember much about the game before the incident, and he couldn't remember much of what happened after it.

By Carl Marston

KEM Izzet was almost knocked out by a blistering free-kick which struck him full in the face during Saturday's bore draw against Burnley.

Izzet joked afterwards that he couldn't remember much about the game before the incident, and he couldn't remember much of what happened after it. Well, he didn't miss much!

The U's midfielder actually made a quick recovery after being struck by Joey Gudjonsson's 52nd minute free-kick while standing in the defensive wall. He went on to play the whole match.


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It was one of those afternoons when a blow to the head, if it led to just short-term amnesia, would not have been unattractive!

The Colchester United faithful had forgotten what it was like to witness a 0-0 draw on home turf. But their memories have been jogged.

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Layer Road has hosted a feast of entertainment this season, with 53 goals to savour (38 from Colchester) in 17 home fixtures. Alas, the goal-machine ground to a halt on home match No 18, as unadventurous Burnley claimed a point from a bleak goalless stalemate.

It was the first time this campaign that a Layer Road crowd had not seen a goal. In fact, it was the first 0-0 home draw for more than a year, stretching back to relegation-threatened Walsall's goalless result at Layer Road on February 14, 2006, just five days before a mouth-watering trip to Chelsea in the FA Cup.

Geraint Williams' men have set some very high standards for themselves. It's easy to forget that, before their visit to Turf Moor last September, the scene of their first away victory, they were hovering around the relegation zone and hosts Burnley were in the play-offs.

The two teams have travelled in opposite directions since then. The U's have become permanent fixtures in the top 10, while the Clarets have slithered into the lower half of the table.

And that is why there was an air of disappointment hanging over Layer Road on Saturday night. It had almost been expected that Burnley would be turned over to secure a first league double of the season.

And if the U's had remembered their shooting boots, then that's what would have happened. They bossed possession and were on the attack for most of the game but the statistics do not lie.

United had goal-attempts galore, 14 in all, they could only must a couple of tame efforts on target. Clarets keeper Danny Coyne might just as well have stayed at home in Lancashire.

Ironically, it was Dean Gerken who was the busier of the two keepers. Steve Cotterill's side put the emphasis on defence but they still made the opposing keeper work whenever they spotted a shooting chance.

The U's had two golden opportunities, one in each half. The first arrived on 35 minutes when Chris Iwelumo volleyed Jamie Cureton's cross a foot wide of the near post from close-range.

The Scotsman has scored from that position on more than one occasion this season.

But the most glaring miss arrived with seven minutes remaining. Chris Barker delivered a cross to the edge of the six-yard box where Richard Garcia headed over the top with the goal at his mercy.

That summed up United's afternoon of anguish. They didn't play badly - indeed they produced some good sweeping moves - but they didn't apply the killer finishing touch.

Kevin McLeod and Wayne Brown both smashed shots over the bar, while Cureton was unlucky with a 20-yarder that was deflected narrowly wide off a defender's boot. All these came in the first period.

Burnley, without a win since November, tested Gerken after the break. Experienced striker Ade Akinbiyi, who began his career at Norwich in the early 1990s, lashed in a long-range shot that Gerken did well to cling onto in the 62nd minute. Akinbiyi slid another effort narrowly wide of the far post.

In the end, neither side really deserved to win. Burnley are without a victory in 15 games and still have some work to do to ensure Championship (old Division One) football at Turf Moor for a seventh successive season.

The U's have no such worries. They are safe on 52 points, and can now look forward to Friday night's trip to Derby County, when they will be playing under the glare of the Sky TV cameras.

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