Well it wasn’t quite 7-1, but the Canaries gave Colchester a taste of their own medicine in today’s East Anglian grudge match at a sodden Weston Community Homes Stadium. Oh, the score? 5-0.
A Chris Martin brace and goals from Gary Doherty, Grant Holt and impressive substitute Oli Johnson certainly goes some way to erasing the memory of that opening day disaster at Carrow Road.
And man for man, City were magnificent, especially in the second half when in truth, they ran riot.
The Norfolk club could even afford to miss a Wes Hoolahan penalty with the score at 3-0 and boss Paul Lambert – who was subjected to sustained abuse from the U’s crowd – admitted that this victory will be particularly sweet for the travelling hordes.
“You can feel it when you’re there and I’m pretty sure that it was sweet for our supporters today,” said a fired up Lambert, conducting his media duties indoors after some unsavoury comments directed at him pitchside by Colchester ‘supporters’.
“The fans have been exceptional to me and we’ve given them something back for when they were hurt.”
It was certainly a big occasion in north Essex but after a nervy opening period, City grew as the game progressed. By the end, it looked like the U’s players who were feeling the heat.
“The lads were brilliant, they really were – especially with everything going on. Considering the Colchester fans’ reaction, I thought they kept their heads, kept going and we were worthy winners.
“I didn’t think the build-up was going to be significant and I never really mentioned it to the players to be perfectly honest. We came here to get another three points – and we did.
“We had to adapt our game plan and the pitch was a bit of a concern because of the footballers we’ve got here.
“But it’s all very well me telling them, the lads had to go out and do it and I thought some of the football we played – in really bad conditions – was exceptional.
“We had to adapt and they are the ones that did it – backed by a terrific following again. They come in their droves everywhere we go and we’re certainly playing well at the minute.”
The first half was pretty even to be fair but Norwich simply took their chances on a bog of a pitch – it was the finishing prowess of Martin that made all the difference.
The U’s made the brighter start and looked to be adapting to the conditions better and in the opening few minutes, David Fox and Anthony Wordsworth were causing City problems with their long range efforts.
The Canaries just had that extra nous however, weathering the early storm, and they have a canny knack of scoring goals at crucial times.
Just as the U’s were pressing, Martin was fed the ball just outside the box and his left footed strike on 16 minutes found the corner of the net to give City the lead; cue pandemonium in the away end.
And if his first was good, the City hitman’s second in first-half stoppage time really was worthy of winning any game.
Holt played a beautifully weighted pass through to the Beccles-born forward and after holding off Marc Tierney, Martin showed remarkable composure to slide it past ‘keeper Ben Williams.
If the first 45 was fairly even though, the second period was all City and they were at their ruthless best right up until the final whistle.
On this showing, the Canaries are going to push Leeds all the way and after the Whites’ 2-0 defeat at Exeter, it really was the perfect day with the gap between the two now just three points.
City’s third came almost straight from the restart and Doherty’s finish proved why the ‘Ginger Pele’ doubled up as a forward in his Tottenham days, after he slammed the ball home from six yards.
Goals four and five were vintage City and by this point they were rampant. Johnson looks some talent and his classy finish after ghosting past Pat Baldwin rubbed salt into U’s wounds.
And just to prove what kind of mood they were in, Holt decided to get in on the act after another tireless display, rounding the ‘keeper to make it five in the game’s dying moments.
There was time for even more controversy, however, with former City trainee Ian Henderson seeing red for a late challenge on Darel Russell, on his U’s debut as well. It really wasn’t a good day to be a Colchester United supporter.
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