Vernon wants chance to be U's saviour

SCOTT Vernon has already proved that he can handle the pressure, following his precision spot kick in the exciting 2-1 win over Preston.

Carl Marston

SCOTT Vernon has already proved that he can handle the pressure, following his precision spot kick in the exciting 2-1 win over Preston.

Now Vernon is ready to shoulder the responsibility of helping to guide Colchester United to Championship safety, by starting a few games and banging in a few more goals.

The super sub had no hesitation in volunteering to take the 68th minute penalty on Tuesday night, having replaced regular spot kick specialist Teddy Sheringham just seven minutes earlier. Mark Yeates, another penalty expert, was not in the side due to a shoulder injury.

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The 24-year-old ex-Oldham and Blackpool front-runner is pushing for a start at play-off chasing Hull City this afternoon.

Leading marksman Kevin Lisbie will miss his second successive game, due to a twisted ankle, so it looks to be a straight choice between Vernon and Teddy Sheringham for the strike-force berth alongside Clive Platt.

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Vernon has made three appearances as a substitute since his 11th hour move from Blackpool, on transfer deadline day at the end of last month.

The U's have been unbeaten in those three matches, with two draws and one win, to clamber off bottom spot.

And one thing's for sure - if the U's earn another penalty, and Vernon is on the pitch, then it will be difficult to take the ball off him.

“I've always fancied taking penalties, but I've often been down the pecking order at my previous clubs,” said Vernon, who scored his second U's goal on Tuesday.

“I took a few more penalties for Oldham than I did for Blackpool, but whenever I got the chance, I was always keen to take them.

“It wasn't really discussed who would take penalties on Tuesday night. Obviously I came on for Teddy (Sheringham), which was something that I didn't think I would ever do in my career.

“I was on the spot when we were awarded the penalty (Sean St Ledger's foul on Karl Duguid). Nobody else around wanted to take it, so I said that 'I'll have it'.

“The keeper (Andy Lonergan) guessed the right way, and got a hand to it, but I hit the penalty well,” added Vernon.

The U's leapfrogged Scunthorpe in the table, following this third home win of the season, after the Iron went down 1-0 at home to Bristol City.

Furthermore, the U's success was achieved without the injured trio of Yeates, Lisbie and new signing Dean Hammond.

All three could again miss out again today, although midfielder Hammond has shrugged off a calf problem to make the travelling party. Lisbie has an outside chance, although he is really targeting next weekend's home match against Bristol City for his return. Yeates is a definite non-starter.

Vernon reckons that Tuesday night's 2-1 win over Preston, capped by an 88th minute winner from Johnnie Jackson, could prove priceless.

“It wasn't just a big win for us. It was a massive win. We really needed it,” insisted Vernon. “We needed the three points to cut the gap between us and the rest. Now we are in the pack and it's something for us to build on.

“Most of the other results went for us that night, so we got that little bit of luck as well.

“Our away form has been good. The pressure is off us, when we're away from Layer Road. We're gunning for another good result.”

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