U's in seventh heaven after 5-0 rout

SEVENTH Heaven! Colchester United are up and running at their new home!

Carl Marston

SEVENTH Heaven! Colchester United are up and running at their new home!

It was a long time in coming, but the U's finally chalked up their first ever win at the Weston Homes Community Stadium, at the seventh time of asking.

And what a win! Dazed Carlisle United were blown away by the super U's, who outclassed the Cumbrians from the very first whistle to the last.

New manager Paul Lambert has already had a big influence on the team, following his appointment just over a fortnight ago. The level of performance has been raised, as has the tempo and work-rate of the players. The results are also on the turn.

The Lambert era began with a 2-1 win at Stockport. His side may have lost 2-1 on home turf to Millwall last week, but they were very unlucky not to take at least a point from this helter-skelter clash. The home fans certainly appreciated the effort.

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There was never any doubt of a repeat result against Carlisle. The U's were in the driving seat throughout, and the 5-0 score-line was not flattering. In fact, it could have been even more convincing.

Winger Mark Yeates was head-and-shoulders above every other player on the park, in terms of pure skill and dazzling tricks, yet this was an all-round team performance of the highest quality.

It took them just three minutes to take the lead on Saturday, thanks to David Perkins' fourth goal of the season.

Yeates was the creator. Undeterred by seeing his first cross blocked, Yeates skipped past two more defenders before drilling over a low cross that Ben Alnwick could only parry - the Cumbrians keeper had a day to forget. Perkins was in the right place to plant the rebound in the roof of the net.

For 11 minutes, at least, midfielder Perkins could claim to be the U's joint top goalscorer. But that's all the time it took for Yeates to regain his top spot alone.

It was a delightful move, that had threatened to break down before Steve Gillespie back-heeled Clive Platt's pass into the danger-zone. Kem Izzet nudged John White's cross into the path of Yeates, and his 20-yard shot out-of-the-blue swerved in front of Alnwick and into bottom of the net.

Yeates' opportunist effort may well have taken a deflection, but he was due some luck on home turf after hitting the woodwork on three occasions during previous matches at the Community Stadium.

The one sad note of the whole afternoon was the sight of Gillespie hobbling off the pitch after this goal. The ex-Cheltenham striker has had a frustrating start to the season, due to injuries and a suspension, and he tweaked his hamstring while executing the back-heel.

But the absence of Gillespie did not dampen Colchester's spirits, especially those of Yeates, who was celebrating his sixth goal of the season on 32 minutes.

The Dubliner made the most of some dreadful defensive play from the Cumbrians, although the U's knack of closing down opponents quickly must take credit for the goal. Alnwick's poor clearance ended with Graham Kavanagh and Darren Campion getting in a mix-up, which resulted in Yeates coolly squeezing his shot past Alnwick.

Carlisle were a beaten team, even though there was still the best part of an hour to play and swing in goal-difference from this heavy defeat has seen the U's leapfrog them in the table.

United remained in command in the second-half. They had chances to increase their lead, most notably when Clive Platt fired over from a good position in the 58th minute. Platt also had a header cleared off the goal-line after Chris Coyne had nodded on a Yeates corner.

At the other end, Dean Gerken was largely unoccupied, although he had make one breath-taking save to claw away Kavanagh's free-kick, which was heading for the top corner of the net in the 64th minute.

A tiring Carlisle then leaked two goals in quick succession at the death, to leave the U's celebrating their biggest win for three years (since the 5-0 win over Gillingham on November 26, 2005).

Skipper Dean Hammond, who led by example in his midfield role just in front of the back four, scored his first goal for the club in the 89th minute. He gleefully swept home from 12 yards out, following good work by substitute Scott Vernon.

And fellow substitute Sunday-Akanni Wasiu completed the rout in the last minute of normal time, by latching onto Kem Izzet's through ball and sliding a shot past the onrushing Alnwick.

No one really wanted to hear the final whistle, among the home crowd, such was the irresistible nature of the U's football. It was a terrific day for the club.

Squads

COLCHESTER UNITED: Gerken 7, White 7, Baldwin 8, Coyne 7, Jackson 7, YEATES 9 (sub Wordsworth, 83) Hammond 8, Izzet 8, Perkins 8, Platt (sub Vernon, 80) 7, Gillespie 7 (sub Wasiu, 16, 7). Unused subs: Heath, Cousins.

CARLISLE UNITED: Alnwick 5, Raven 6, Livesey 6, Gowling 6, Campion 6, Taylor 6, Joyce 5 (sub Smith, 46) KAVANAGH 7, Hackney 5 (sub Madine, 58), Graham 6, Dobie 6. Unused subs: Carlton, Horwood, Williams.

Referee: Mr K Friend (Leicestershire) 7

Attendance: 5,152

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