Norwich City 5, Colchester 1
David Cuffley Jamie Cureton struck a hat-trick against his former club as Norwich City bounced back from three straight defeats with an emphatic 5-1 victory over bottom club Colchester at Carrow Road.
Jamie Cureton struck a hat-trick against his former club as Norwich City bounced back from three straight defeats with an emphatic 5-1 victory over bottom club Colchester at Carrow Road.
Full-back Jon Otsemobor gave the Canaries the lead in the sixth minute with a splendid first goal for the club.
Cureton doubled Norwich's advantage after 35 minutes with an excellent volley from a Darren Huckerby centre.
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Kevin Lisbie gave Colchester hope when he reduced the arrears four minutes before half-time, but City romped away to victory after the break.
Cureton made it 3-1 after 53 minutes from the penalty spot after a trip on Matty Pattison, and Norwich's leading scorer completed his hat-trick three minutes from time when Dion Dublin knocked back a cross by substitute Maceo Rigters, making his debut.
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Dublin completed the rout by scoring the fifth in stoppage time with a delightful chip.
The victory will have done much to lift the tension for Norwich at the wrong end of the Championship table and it was also the first time they had scored more than twice in a home league game this season.
City boss Glenn Roeder kept faith with midfielder Matty Pattison, who kept his place in the side despite his arrest last weekend for drink-driving, but there were three changes to the starting line-up after the defeat at Sheffield United. Darel Russell returned after serving a two-match ban for his sending off at Coventry, Gary Doherty was back in the centre of defence and Dion Dublin was recalled in attack. Defender Alex Pearce and striker Ched Evans were relegated to the bench and there was no place in the 16 for Kieran Gibbs. Striker Maceo Rigters, signed on loan from Blackburn on Wednesday, had to be content with a place on the bench. The other substitutes were Lee Croft and Mo Camara but in a surprise move, Roeder did not name a second goalkeeper.
Colchester showed three changes to the team beaten 3-1 by Hull on Tuesday night. Skipper Karl Duguid was ruled out by a knee injury, on loan defender Matt Heath was also missing and Anthony Wordsworth was relegated to the bench. Into the side came Bela Balogh, Kem Izzet and Medy Elito.
Colchester, changing from their normal blue and white stripes into powder blue shirts, kicked off defending the Barclay goal on a bitterly cold and gusty afternoon.
Cureton, playing against his old club, was given a hostile reception by the visiting fans when he was caught offside in Norwich's first attack.
Colchester won a corner in the second minute, conceded by Bertrand, but Jackson's kick did not reach the near post before Pattison knocked it clear.
A foul by Fotheringham gave United a free-kick in the Norwich half and Hammond's kick was nodded down by Platt for Jackson to volley over the top.
Norwich hit back with a cross by Bertrand headed away by Virgo and then Pattison won City's first corner. But Huckerby's kick was a poor one and was easily cleared by Balogh.
City were given just the start they were looking for in only the sixth minute when Otsemobor scored his first goal for the club. Dublin and Fotheringham combined to give Otsemobor possession on the right and he set off on a determined run which took him into the Colchester area before he unleashed a powerful right-foot drive which gave goalkeeper Gerken no chance.
It was the Canaries first goal in four matches and, appropriately, Carrow Road was now in bright sunshine and long shadows.
As Norwich pressed again, Fotheringham shot high over the bar and, moments later, Russell tried to find Cureton with a long ball down the left but Gerken was out first to collect.
A foul by Pattison on Ifil gave Colchester a free-kick halfway into the Norwich half close to the right touchline, but Jackson's kick was headed away by Fotheringham and when Izzet lobbed it back into the penalty area, Marshall made an easy catch.
Huckerby, playing on the right, won a free-kick when he was fouled by White but he wasted it by floating it beyond the far post and straight out of play.
There was a narrow escape for Norwich after 16 minutes when Lisbie found Jackson on the left side of the penalty area and the Colchester skipper fired in a low left-foot shot that was only inches the wrong side of the post.
Jackson was doing his best to get his side back on terms and had another shot blocked on the edge of the area after a free-kick by Balogh was only partially cleared by Doherty.
Brilliant work by Bertrand almost set up a second goal for City after 21 minutes when he wriggled his way out of a tight situation and played a one-two with Pattison, making good ground into the Colchester area before pulling the ball back to Russell, whose side-foot effort was just the wrong side of the post.
Then a glorious cross field ball from Dublin gave Huckerby the chance to make it 2-0 as he homed in on the goalkeeper, Gerken and White between them did just enough to prevent Huckerby getting in a shot as he tried to check inside onto his left foot.
Colchester won another corner when Otsemobor jumped at the far post to head clear from Elito, but the flag kick was wasted.
The visitors were getting a string of free-kicks and a foul by Fotheringham gave them another one on the halfway line, but White floated a poor ball towards the City area and they easily cleared.
With 31 minutes gone, Izzet tried his luck from nearly 30 yards but although his right-foot shot bounced awkwardly in front of Marshall, the keeper gathered it cleanly.
There was a half-chance for the visitors two minutes later when a cross from Elito took a deflection off Otsemobor and Platt was able to stick out a boot but only succeeded in directing it onto the roof of the net.
City stretched their lead 10 minutes before the break and it was Cureton who struck against his old club with his 12th goal of the season. Huckerby did extremely well to get the better of White, get to the byline and pull back a cross to the near post, where the unmarked Cureton swivelled to fire in a right-foot volley from around six yards.
Goal scorer Cureton earned a yellow card just a minute later when, frustrated by a challenge from Balogh, he was adjudged to have fouled the Colchester man and referee Haywood called him across and booked him.
United almost pulled a goal back six minutes before the interval when Lisbie struck the crossbar with a header from a centre by Ifil.
Lisbie managed to go one better after 41 minutes, however, when he reduced Norwich's lead with his 15th goal of the season. Shackell seemed to misjudge a header from a long ball forward by Virgo and the ball dropped into the path of Lisbie, who sidestepped Marshall and poked his shot into an empty net.
Lifted by that goal, Colchester pushed forward and won a corner in the final minute of the half, Jackson meeting Hammond's kick with a glancing header which forced Shackell to clear.
Otsemobor conceded another corner as the half went into three minutes of added time. Indeed, City were under pressure as the visitors forced no fewer than four corners in a row before Marshall finally made a clean catch from the last kick by Jackson.
Ifil dispossessed Pattison just inside the Norwich half before forcing Marshall into action again with a fairly ambitious effort from 35 yards.
Both sides made changes at the interval with Pearce replacing Doherty in the Norwich defence and Vernon on in an attacking role in place of Elito for the visitors. Pearce was soon in the action, shooting high over the top after Colchester struggled to clear a Huckerby free-kick.
Less than three minutes after the break, Bertrand brought Gerken into action with a low drive as City counterattacked swiftly through Otsemobor and Huckerby following a Colchester corner.
Otsemobor and Huckerby combined well a minute later and Dublin attempted to nod down Huckerby's cross into the path of Cureton but the ball dropped just out of reach of the little striker and United were able to clear.
Pattison tried his luck with a long-range effort and City pressed again but this was well off target.
There was almost a remarkable goal after 51 minutes when Dublin, from all of 35-yards, struck the Colchester bar with an audacious lob. Cureton, following up, volleyed over the top with the goal at his mercy, but the flag was already up for offside.
City's bright start to the second half paid dividends when they stretched their lead through a penalty by Cureton. Cureton slid the ball into the six-yard box from a Fotheringham cross and Ifil tripped Pattison when he tried to apply the finishing touch. Referee Haywood pointed straight to the spot and Cureton beat Gerken with a cool finish from 12 yards.
Before Colchester could kick-off the Canaries made another change, Pattison departing to a huge ovation and being replaced by Croft.
Croft almost set up Huckerby for a fourth goal with his first touch but Gerken raced out and just managed to beat the Norwich man to the ball.
City were in a confident mood now and an excellent ball by Fotheringham enabled Huckerby to get behind the defence, where his low cross was desperately knocked away by White with his keeper well beaten.
Substitute Croft tried to get his name on the score sheet after 63 minutes when he took a pass from Otsemobor and cut inside, letting fly with a left-foot shot, but it was well over the bar.
Colchester had not given up the ghost and Vernon tested Marshall with a swerving right foot shot, which the keeper kept out at the expense of a corner. The flag kick caused some alarm in the Norwich six-yard box before Vernon tripped Shackell to concede a free-kick and relieve the pressure.
City wasted one dead-ball opportunity when Huckerby rolled a free-kick square to no one in particular and Bertrand had to be alert to prevent Colchester taking advantage on the counterattack.
With 20 minutes left, Colchester made another change with Wordsworth replacing Lisbie, who had taken a knock.
Shackell was forced to concede a corner when he intercepted a cross by Hammond and Virgo rose to meet Jackson's flag kick but his header looped harmlessly over the bar.
City had gone into their shell since that bright attacking spell and United continued to look for a way back into the game. Platt managed to get in a firm header from a cross by Ifil, but Marshall took it cleanly.
With 13 minutes to go, Roeder made is final change with Dutchman Rigters getting his debut in place of Huckerby.
Russell got his head to a free-kick by Fotheringham as Norwich looked for a fourth goal to wrap the game up, but his effort struck teammate Pearce.
City won a corner when Dublin's shot from a Croft centre was deflected wide but they had wasted most of their dead ball opportunities and this was no exception.
Colchester's 10th corner of the match, taken by Hammond, produced another attempt on goal with Marshall having to palm a header from Platt over the bar.
A miskick by Pearce let in Hammond on the left side of the Norwich defence and he should have done better than curl his cross behind for a goal kick with two teammates in the penalty area.
Cureton had moved into a wide-left role since Huckerby's departure and he aimed one cross towards Dublin, but the veteran striker's header lacked power and Gerken managed to gather it easily.
The Canaries wrapped up victory with three minutes to go when Cureton completed his hat-trick. Substitute Rigters produced a neat turn close to the left corner flag and his low cross was knocked back by Dublin for Cureton to side-foot home and gleefully celebrate a hat-trick against his former club.
In stoppage time, Marshall made a brilliant save to deny Platt a consolation goal for Colchester.
Then Dublin made it a five-goal show for Norwich when he scored with a delightful chip in the dying seconds.