U's victory delights and frustrates fans
AWAY from home, frustrating Colchester United have at times been unstoppable this season.In fact, their form on the road has been that of promotion favourites, not mid-table dwellers.
AWAY from home, frustrating Colchester United have at times been unstoppable this season.
In fact, their form on the road has been that of promotion favourites, not mid-table dwellers. That was the case again at basement side Hereford in a one-sided League One contest on Saturday.
Paul Lambert's men have now chalked up 10 away league victories from 22 fixtures, a record that is only bettered by the top four teams in the division.
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It's just a pity that the U's have been unable to replicate that dazzling form on home turf. Only 25 of their 60 points have been secured at the Weston Homes Community Stadium.
Saturday's comfortable success, in front of a sparse crowd at Edgar Street, stopped a run of three straight defeats. In the process, it confirmed the inevitable for Hereford - relegation back to League Two after just one season.
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Although not mathematically down before kick-off, the Bulls were without even a glimmer of hope due to a 12-point gap between themselves and safety, with just four games left and a terrible goal difference.
It was left to Mark Yeates, a strong candidate for the U's player-of-the-season, to rub salt into the Bulls' wounds with a terrific cameo performance.
From the very first whistle, Hereford resembled a side resigned to their fate. A sixth successive defeat was always on the cards, and it's perplexing to think that this lowly team actually won 2-1 at the Community Stadium in December.
Perhaps that pre-Christmas result said more about the U's inability to get it right in front of their own fans, rather than any hint of a recovery from their visitors.
Yeates almost broke the deadlock inside two minutes on Saturday. His rasping shot from the edge of the box beat Bulls keeper Peter Gulasci, only to cannon back off the far post.
Yeates has lost count of the number of times that he has hit the woodwork this season - but it must be approaching double figures.
However, it was only a matter of time before the elusive Yeates, who was relishing a free role behind lone striker Sunday Akanni-Wasiu, would break the deadlock.
Hereford had offered very little as an attacking threat, before Yeates converted a marvellous free-kick in the 37th minute, and they didn't improve for the rest of the game. They certainly never looked like staging a comeback.
Full-back Sam Gwynne fouled Wasiu, on the left edge of the penalty area, and Yeates' eyes immediately lit up. He curled the free-kick over the defensive wall and into the top corner of the net.
Five minutes later, and the game was over as a contest. Yeates popped up on the right flank to deliver a dangerous cross that defender Dean Beckwith could only head into his own net, from six yards out. The ball skimmed off the top of his head and past a helpless Gulasci.
Two goals up and coasting before the break, the only surprise was that the U's did not increase their lead during a low-key second half.
Yeates, Simon Hackney and Wasiu all peppered the target, while at the other end Dean Gerken had very little to occupy himself, albeit for a tame header from Beckwith on 80 minutes. He will rarely have kept an easier clean-sheet in his career.
In fact, the main talking point of the second half was the debut appearance of U's teenager Sam Corcoran - and he only came on in the 89th minute!
The game ended, as it had begun, with a real end-of-season feel to proceedings.
Yet the U's still delivered a professional performance, in sleepy Herefordshire, to return to the top half of the table. Hereford, meanwhile, have returned to League Two.