Ipswich resident Chris hopes for U's win

AT least one Ipswich resident is hoping for a Colchester win at Layer Road on Friday - U's striker Chris Iwelumo.

By Mel Henderson

AT least one Ipswich resident is hoping for a Colchester win at Layer Road on Friday - U's striker Chris Iwelumo.

And if he achieves it in the live-on-Sky game - kick-off 7.45pm - the big Scot promises to wind up one of his best pals in the game, Town teenager Billy Clarke.

Iwelumo, 28, said: “When Billy joined us on loan last season I really took to him. He's a great lad and now he's the talk of the town after the impact he has made this season.

“I used to give him a lift to Colchester every day when he was with us and we hit it off. In fact, he was round at my house on Monday night.

“He's a top lad and although he's still young he's got a good head on his shoulders. He can go a long way in the game.

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“I watched Ipswich's game at QPR a few weeks ago on television and he did really well, but I couldn't resist winding him up that he should have scored a couple of goals that night.

“He's done brilliantly since then by scoring against Southampton and Coventry, but hopefully he won't do it at Layer Road on Friday.”

Iwelumo has helped his side to a five-game unbeaten run, during which he has found the net three times, and he confirmed confidence was high in the Colchester camp ahead of the sides' first league meeting in almost 50 years.

He paid tribute to ex-Ipswich player Geraint Williams, who succeeded Phil Parkinson as manager on the eve of the new season.

Iwelumo said: “The gaffer has been terrific. He's a quality coach who has everyone's respect and he has taken the club forward.

“As soon as Parky left, all the players wanted him to take over. We couldn't understand why the club left it so long before giving him the job.”

Colchester's recent run, which sees Williams as a rival to Town boss Jim Magilton for the September Manager of the Month award, has stunned those who expected them to be cast adrift at the bottom of the table.

Iwelumo added: “We still accept that, realistically, we will be involved in a relegation dogfight. But we are enjoying life at this level - the big stadiums etc - and there is a real buzz about the place.

“However, just because we only have a modest ground of our own it doesn't mean it is a huge advantage to us.

“It might surprise the Ipswich players when they walk in and the dressing rooms are smaller than most, but once we're out there on the pitch it won't make any difference.

“We have a superb playing surface and I can guarantee the rest of the facilities won't make a blind bit of difference once the game kicks off.”

The much-travelled star set up home in Ipswich when he moved back to England last year, following a season in Germany with Alemania Aachen.

He explained: “We wanted easy access to the Midlands to see my wife's family and we can shoot up the A14 from here, while it only takes me 20 minutes to get to Colchester in the morning.”

Iwelumo has had plenty to celebrate - both on and off the park - since signing for Colchester, starting with last season's historic promotion to the second tier of English football for the very first time.

Three weeks ago the champagne corks were popping again when wife Bianca gave birth in Ipswich to the couple's second child, Novia, a sister for Prisais.

He added: “I have close friends who are Ipswich season ticket holders and they have always said that they like to see Colchester do well.

“But it's different in Colchester. There seems to be a bit of bitterness among our fans. Maybe they have been envious in the past, with good reason I would say, but the two clubs are on the same level again now and I know what a win would mean to them.

“Both teams are doing well and apart from playing decent football I think they can look after themselves physically.

“I'm very confident going into the game and I can't see it being decided by a bigger margin than just one goal.”

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