Glensider At Colchester United
Weston Homes Community Stadium
It was in weather more closely related to a late October/early November day, rather than for a late July afternoon, that we departed dear old Brummagem at just after 2.00 p.m., on route to the Kingdom of Essex, and Britains oldest recorded Roman town of Colchester, fifty miles or so north-east of London, for this, the second of our pre 2009-10 season warm-up games.
Previous visits to Colchester have taken us to the old Layer Road ground, but for this evenings encounter, we were visiting new surroundings, namely The Colchester Community Stadium, or as its more correctly known due to sponsorship reasons, The Weston Homes Community Stadium. The U's took possession of the stadium in July 2008, an all-seater project, which cost £14 million to build. The stadium was built on the northern outskirts of the town, and is quite an impressive complex of which the club can be proud. It currently holds 10,000 we were told, with potential to increase the capacity up towards the 20,000 mark. Certainly a huge step-up from the old run-down, extremely compact, Layer Road ground, which despite its failings and disabilities, one must admit, was capable of generating quite an atmosphere.
One change in our line-up today, good friend Andy deciding against traveling, so from our 'bench' up steps son-in-law Adam, resulting in our usual complement of four making the trip. The miles rolled by as we discussed virtually everything and anything going on in the world of sports, politics, and/or life in general. Once again the world was put to rights, as we proved to one another, that we really are experts in everything we care to turn our thoughts and discussions to. In car entertaininment was provide in the shape of a non-stop concert by a foursome from way back when, The Beatles.
Right, enough of the sideshow. My brief is to write a report on the game, so lets get down to business.
We had talked while journeying down, about what we hoped/expected to see this evening, and we were pretty much united (which has to be a first) regarding our thoughts. While Saturday's game at London Road had ended up being something of a stroll in the park, it certainly hadn't started that way, our defence looking all at sea at times. There had certainly been enough food for thought provided to confirm to Martin O'Neill what he obviously already knows, namely that we most certainly need strengthening and tightening up at the back. Hopefully with that game now under their belt, Zat, Curtis, and Carlos would look more assured against tonights opponents.
Good to see fellow Villans both on the drive down, and as we approached the ground. Few familiar faces in evidence, good to share a beer or two with some of the regular away-day crowd. Particularly Fat Freddie who entered my good books by suggesting I'd shed a few lbs over the summer, and looked in good shape, just like back in the old days. I haven't and I don’t.! Told me he now reads Vital Villa. I told him he needs to become a member.
One change in the Villa line-up, Isiah Osbourne, who has a very important make or break campaign ahead of him, replacing Saturday's opening goal scorer, Andreas Weimann.
So, we lined up as follows:- Brad Snr, Carlos the bearded one (looks like the Yorkshire Ripper), Zat, Curtis, Nicky, Isiah, Nigel, Sidders, Marc the Tamworth boy, Big Marlon, Lil' Barry B. Subs: Parish, Lichaj, Roome, Lowry, Herd, Clark, McGurk (Hoo-Ray!!!), Hofbauer, Weimann, Collins.
Don’t think I've missed anyone out there, but apologies if that's not the case. No Luke Young again, wonder what's going on there? Rumours were circulating at Peterborough that he might need surgery, fingers crossed that that isn't the case.
Must admit that there was a good atmosphere inside the stadium, better turnout than at Peterborough too. The locals were certainly up for this one, friendly or not.
There was certainly a bright start by Marc Albrighton. He likes to get involved, he's always looking for the ball. He's got pace, and he's got ability. He's definitely one youngster who could make the breakthrough this season. He just needs the opportunity. He certainly wouldn't let us down. He's ready.
We'd been dominating the early exchanges, had plenty of possession without really looking dangerous, and it wasn't until the fifteenth minute mark that Colchester switched into an attacking gear, Brad though safely collecting a probing cross. Stevie Sidwell looked really sharp, definitely up for it, he was playing as if he has a point to prove. Which of course he has.
A superb sliding tackle by Carlos Cuellar halted a tricky looking situation, but our respite was short lived, the home team going ahead on thirty minutes, the home attacker getting the better of Curtis Davies following a free kick on the right, and heading home to put the home team ahead.
We immediately attempted to draw level, Marc Albrighton, having a superb game, put in a cross that was eventually headed off the line by the home defence, out for a corner.
We were struggling up front though, Marlon practically on his own, a situation that in my opinion called for the introduction of Adam McGurk.
Marc Albrighton and Sidders had definitely been our shining lights this half, and it was the Tamworth lad who got in a rare Villa effort, an effort that their keeper got down well to hold. 'At least it was a shot on target' commented buddy Neil.
It was young Marc again, who else, who got behind the United defence, but their defender recovered to block the effort.
Well what a frustrating first half that had been. Marc Albrighton looking the only one likely to get on the scoresheet for us, or at least create an opening. It had been all very predictable, and Albrighton and Sidwell apart, not really good enough. We'd seen Carlos Cuellar push forward wherever/whenever possible down the right, but he'd been unable to get in any telling crosses, certainly nothing to trouble the home keeper. We'd had the bulk of the possession, but what good is that if there's no end product?
Mart in his wisdom made just the one change at the break, replacing Marc Albrighton with Andreas Weimann, and we certainly started the second half brightly.
We were looking threatening, there was urgency in our play, something that had been lacking throughout the first forty-five.
As so often happens though, against the run of play, we found ourselves two down, the home striker shooting low and hard past Brad.
Steve Sidwell brought us back into the game around the hour mark, finishing well from ten yards, after a Barry Bannan free kick was deflected into his path. A smartly taken finish.
It wasn't long before Mart decided to shake things up, and I was in my element with the introduction of McGurk, along with Shane Lowry, Ciaran Clark, and the talented American Eric Lichaj. Off came Zat, Curtis, young Barry Bannan, and Big Marlon. Might as well blood these youngsters. Looks like we'll be seeing a lot of them in the coming months.
2-2. and its non another than Adam McGurk who got the final touch. Panic in the home defence, looked like it would be an own goal, but young Adam was on hand, he couldn't miss. A simple finish, but I cant stress how highly I rate this lad. Must mention Andreas Weimann, as it was his powerful effort that the keeper parried to set up our goal.
On 80 minutes young Weimann, who'd certainly made an impression following his arrival, put one over the bar from distance. He'd added zest and pace up front, he was buzzing, causing problems. Last season in the reserve and youth teams, he'd often go missing, but that wasn't the case on Saturday, nor was it last night.
So there we have it fellow Vital Villans. I thought the bright spots were Marc Albrighton, Steve Sidwell, and Nicky Shorey, while Andreas Weimann definitely put himself about when he joined in the fun. Barry Bannan certainly did his prospects no harm. Small in stature, but a big, big heart, and bags of talent too. Great to see Adam McGurk get on the scoresheet. I've been raving about him now for three seasons or so, as those of you who use the forums will well know (If you don’t use the forums, why not?). Injuries really hit him hard, but its great to see him back.
The drive home was uneventful, now at close to 2.45 a.m. I'm ready to hit them sheets with a wallop.
Have a good week guys. I'll be back with you for the Liverpool game up at Anfield.
Until then, Keep Well, and Keep Reading and Contributing to, Vital Villa.
Glensider, at your service.