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Matches of Yesteryear - U's v Yeovil 15/8/09
Written by wessex_exile on Saturday, 14th Mar 2020 15:04

…and so we enter the start of the coronavirus-enforced football league postponement period for 2019/20. As things stand, we will emerge on 4th April away at Bradford City, with nine fixtures (some teams, including Swindon, Crewe and FGR have ten) still to complete over the following 21 days, though I’m sure the end of the season could be extended if needs be. Whether we do restart on 4th April only time will tell.

Colchester United v Yeovil Town

Saturday 15th August 2009

Coca-Cola League 1 (Tier 3)

Attendance 4,263

Match #48 of the Matches of Yesteryear series, and like Match #47, it is again another of my birthday football trips, for the U’s at home to Yeovil Town. I’ve mentioned previously that I always try and get to the first match of a season and/or certainly at or close to my birthday (sometimes they’ve coincided). Regrettably (for me) this wasn’t the case in 2009, with family commitments making it impossible to be at Carrow Road for what turned out to be one of the most memorable opening fixtures in not only our history, but potentially in the history of English football. A bold claim perhaps, but the U’s 7-1 demolition of Norwich City, tipped as favourites for an immediate return to the Championship following their relegation the previous season, certainly send shockwaves throughout football. Not surprisingly, the matchday programme for this game featured that historic victory in considerable detail.

2009/10 was the start of Paul Lambert’s first full season in charge of the U’s, taking over from departing manager Geraint Williams (following a brief caretaker spell under Kit Symons). Lambert had certainly steadied the U’s form, and we spent much of that season around about mid-table, briefly even challenging the play-off positions in January. In the close season, a spotlight was focused on Lambert’s ‘style’ of management, with a host of players released, sold, or worse still consigned to training with the youth team and denied even a squad number (or a place on the team photo shoot). The latter included Jamie Guy, Matt Heath, Philip Ifil, Johnnie Jackson, Matt Lockwood and John White.

I had been on school holiday annual leave with the kids the week before, which had included a mid-week trip over to Essex to see Mum and the rest of the family, so with my parental duty account in credit, I was afforded a pass to travel over for this game on the train. An uneventful journey as I recall, which included a couple of beers in the sunshine of the Bricklayer’s beer garden, before taking up a spot at the back of the South stand. I can’t find a YouTube highlight video of the game itself, but I have tracked down a very shaky video of the teams emerging before kick-off, and from the angle of the view, I don’t think I could have been very far from the vantage point.

One of the Carrow Road heroes from the week before, Clive Platt, had picked up a straight red during our mid-week defeat to Leyton Orient (managed by Geraint Williams) in the Carling Cup, so for the Yeovil match the U’s lined up:

1….Ben Williams

3….Lee Beevers

4….Magnus Okuonghae

5….Pat Baldwin

23..Marc Tierney

8….Dean Hammond (c)

11..Simon Hackney (David Perkins 85’)

14..David Fox

29..Scott Vernon

7….Ashley Vincent

20..Kevin Lisbie (Kemi Izzet 71’)

For the Glovers, they were managed at the time by Terry Skiverton. Skiverton had been appointed, technically as a player-manager in February, and by the end of that season had kept them away from the relegation zone. We have played Yeovil Town (and indeed in their previous incarnations as just Yeovil, and even Yeovil and Petters United) numerous times, particularly during our Southern League years. In the league, this wasn’t our first encounter since that memorable 0-0 draw at Huish Park back in May 2006, we had played them the previous season, doing the double in the process too. In fact, outside of non-league we were quite a bogey team for the Glovers, at the time their solitary victory since our first senior level encounter in December 1958 being that infamous 5-1 FA Cup victory in 2000.

Not surprisingly, the U’s were sat top of the table on goal difference ahead of this match, and buoyed by that excellent victory at Norwich, there was a fairly decent crowd at the (then) Weston Homes Community Stadium, despite the understandably modest turnout making the long trip from deepest Somerset. As for the match, well, it was hot, and those Bricklayer beers had been refreshing, so there’s not too much I can remember in vivid detail. Fortunately, Graeson’s excellent coludata website ( https://www.coludata.co.uk/) and the Evening Gazette archives to the rescue, filling in some of my hazy memory blanks.

David Fox, one of Lambert’s recent acquisitions, was making his home debut for Colchester United. In the 9th minute he capitalised on the ball spinning loose as Vincent was tackled, just before pulling the trigger himself, to drill the ball into the net from the edge of the area for the U’s opening goal. The U’s were playing some excellent free-flowing football, which Yeovil were struggling to cope with. Barely ten minutes later, we had doubled our lead – Lisbie passing wide to Hackney, who crossed beautifully for Vincent to head home past goalkeeper McCarthy from close range. The South Stand was absolutely rocking, with everyone anticipating not just a comfortable victory, but scoring another hatful of goals in the process. We could have done so too, with Vincent, Lisbie and Beevers all going close before half-time.

The second half started very much as the first half had finished, with Lisbie running through on goal early on, only to lose control at the crucial moment. However, as the second half wore on, and the U’s appearing to sit back and play out what looked like a comfortable victory, Yeovil began to grow into the game, particularly after Skiverton made a couple of substitutions just after the hour. To counter the threat Yeovil were posing, Lambert sacrificed Lisbie up front, bringing on tenacious Izzet in midfield, which certainly helped for a while. With less than ten minutes to go, Yeovil were awarded what looked like a dodgy free-kick, albeit some way outside the box. However, up stepped Ryan Mason to curl in an absolutely first class free-kick to cut the deficit, and make for a very nervous finish to the match. More holding tactics from Lambert followed, more or less straight after bringing on the equally tenacious (and excellent) David Perkins in midfield, and the U’s managed to hold on for back-to-back league victories and a 100% start to the season.

Colchester United 2 (David Fox 9’, Ashley Vincent 18’) Yeovil 1 (Ryan Mason 82’)

So, try and keep up here: on the first day of the season Paul Lambert’s U’s defeat Bryan Gunn’s Norwich City 7-1; in the midweek Carling Cup fixtures, Bryan Gunn’s Norwich City defeat today’s opponents Yeovil Town 4-0, whilst Lambert’s U’s lose to former manager Geraint William’s Leyton Orient; by this match Gunn has been sacked, despite his 4-0 victory in Somerset; and immediately following this match Norwich City approach Robbie Cowling to sign Lambert as their new manager.

The contractual wrangling over Lambert seemed to go on and on, with ‘family’ club Norwich City showing an appallingly patronising attitude to Colchester United at times, seemingly believing that if they simply clicked their fingers we’d come to heel. Robbie Cowling was made of sterner stuff however, and eventually rinsed them for a substantial compensation settlement – but Lambert never managed another game for Colchester United, and by the following Tuesday’s home game against Gillingham (which we won as well), Joe Dunne was caretaker in charge of the U’s.

As I can’t find a match highlight video, how about we all enjoy that memorable day at Carrow Road instead.

Up the U’s

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Letters from Wiltshire #09 by wessex_exile
Letters from Wiltshire #08 by wessex_exile
Lots of discussion this week on football forums, including here, on two subjects – the petition to lobby parliament to allow limited numbers of supporters back into football grounds, and of course the return of that old chestnut from Man City Chief Executive Ferran Soriano, introducing Premier League ‘B’ teams into the EFL. First off, I don’t mind admitting I’ve signed the petition ( https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/552036 ), as have 192,779 others at the time of writing, though I don’t actually think it’ll make any difference. I can completely understand why some do not think this is a good idea, as second-wave spikes of coronavirus infection pop up all over the country (mainly because – let’s face it – some people are dicks and can’t be trusted to sit the right way on a toilet). But to me, the two go hand in hand (not dicks and toilets) – whilst football clubs throughout the country struggle financially without spectators, we are always going to be under threat of this sort of ‘B’ team nonsense as a condition of financial support from the Premier League fat cats. They got their way in 2016 with the EFL trophy, who’s to say they won’t again when the financial squeeze really starts to tighten its grip without paying customers through the turnstiles? Robbie has featured prominently in this debate in recent weeks, and looks like he will again on Sky tomorrow if this tweet from Sophy Ridge is anything to go by - https://twitter.com/SophyRidgeSky/status/1313874336118341632
Letters from Wiltshire #07 by wessex_exile
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