Fortune favours U's

IF the difference between the top teams and the rest is an ability to win when not at your best then Colchester United now need to be regarded as a serious bet for the top six.

Stuart Watson

IF the difference between the top teams and the rest is an ability to win when not at your best then Colchester United now need to be regarded as a serious bet for the top six.

The combination of a gusting wind and a Huddersfield back five meant Aidy Boothroyd's side were constricted to long-range efforts for 80 minutes of this match.

But the U's, who got nowhere near the performance levels shown in last Tuesday's 3-0 win over Charlton, were still able to come away with a third successive home victory to consolidate fourth place in the table.

Key moments seem to go for teams in form and, as Terriers boss Lee Clark admitted, football can kick you where it hurts when you're down.

That was certainly the case in this match as Huddersfield - who have now gone five games without a win - fell victim to a controversial red card late on and a sucker punch of a goal just minutes later.

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Following a dreadful opening period, the visitors had dominated second-half play until the match-turning moment.

Defender Peter Clarke, having already received a soft yellow card for one challenge, was dismissed in the 77th minute for a second booking after accidentally catching John White with his elbow.

Three minutes later Kevin Lisbie fired a low cross across the box and Kayode Odejayi netted the match winner - his third goal in two games - from close range.

It means Boothroyd, who was nominated for the September Manager of the Month award, has now gone six games unbeaten since taking over the Essex club.

The U's boss named an unchanged side from that which swept aside the high-flying Addicks last week, but the Yorkshire side arrived at the Weston Community Homes Stadium with a far more negative set-up.

Clark made a number of changes to his side - former Ipswich Town striker Jordan Rhodes one of a trio to drop to the bench - and started with a 5-3-2 system which incorporated midfielder James Berrett in a sweeper role.

That played its part in a dire first half which saw neither side register a meaningful shot on target.

The closest the U's came to scoring was when Anthony Wordsworth's wind-assisted corner almost curled in at the far post.

The closest Huddersfield came to finding the back of the net was when a blocked long-range shot ballooned into a practise goal tucked away in the corner of the ground.

The visitors improved dramatically after the break. Joe Skarz fired across the face of the goal, while the U's did well to close down Antony Kay and Robbie Simpson in dangerous positions.

Young Wolves loanee Danny Batth was particularly impressive at the back as Colchester held firm and, although there was an element of fortune for them after Clarke's red card, the U's have to be praised for their ability to cash in.

Lisbie, again playing on the right of midfield, had always looked Colchester's biggest threat with the ball at his feet, so it came as no surprise that it was he who provided the winner.

The on-loan Ipswich striker beat his marker down the wing, fired a low ball across the area and Odejayi could not miss from less than six yards out.

Despite the imbalance in numbers, Huddersfield bravely pressed for an equaliser late on and almost got one. Simpson got the better of Okuonghae and fired beyond Ben Williams, however, White was there to clear off the line.

Colchester certainly seem to be developing the winning habit.