Writer: Chris Baldwin
Date:Saturday December 16 2006
Stoke's record run of not conceding a goal took just two minutes to start to unravel at Layer Road. Colchester eventually ran out comfortable 3-0 winners in a game that Stoke will see as a series of missed chances.
Tony Pulis was forced to recall John Eustace and Carl Dickinson from loans at Hereford and Blackpool respectively as extra cover for the injured Salif Diao and the departed Andy Griffin. Both started on the bench with Dave Brammer and Clint Hill filling the spaces in the starting eleven.
With arguably two of the most influential members of the Potters' recent run of form missing and playing against two of the top scorers in the Championship (Iwelumo and Cureton) the omens never looked good. But even the most pessimistic Stoke supporter would have expected the Stoke defence to hold out for longer than 75 seconds when a speculative shot from Jamie Cureton deflected off Clint Hill and past a stranded Simonsen for the first U's goal.
Stoke bounced back and had several opportunities to equalise. Mama Sidibe had the ball in the back of the net on 9 minutes, but was judged by the linesman to be offside and Ricardo Fuller spurned several good chances. But it was Cureton again that dealt the near fatal blow after just 15 minutes when some more weak defending cost the Potters a second goal. More chances came and went in the first half - most notable was Lee Hendrie's shot that just slipped over the top of the crossbar just before half-time.
The second half saw Colchester try and make the three points safe and this they managed to do in the 63rd minute when Garcia headed the ball into the net from a cross.
Pulis, making a vain attempt to rescue something, brought on Pericard, Berger and Eustace for Sidibe, Brammer and Russell for the last quarter but with the exception of Berger forcing a save from the U's keeper there were to be no chances of a consolation goal for the Potters.
We all knew the run had to end sometime, but the manner of the defeat - conceding three goals and not scoring any - should worry Tony Pulis the most.
But it's not a disaster and the Potters have seven days before their next trip to the east coast to sort things out.
Colchester: Gerken, Halford, Baldwin, Brown, Barker, Duguid, Watson (Jackson 85), Izzet, Garcia (Ephraim 77), Iwelumo (Guy 88), Cureton.
Subs not used: Davison, Richards.
Stoke City: Simonsen, Hoefkens, Duberry, Higginbotham, Hill, Lawrence, Russell (Eustace 75), Brammer (Berger 65), Hendrie, Fuller, Sidibe (Pericard 69).
Subs not used: Sweeney, Dickinson
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Date:Saturday December 16 2006
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