Colchester United 3 Derby County 1: Danns sends woeful Rams to slaughter

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The Independent Football

As the celebrations fade and hangovers are run off in training today, Colchester will bank the £65,000 revenue from this well-deserved FA Cup upset and prepare to watch the fifth-round draw with an eye on the clock. Colchester are longing for the end of tomorrow's transfer window, hoping none of their players or manager Phil Parkinson have been lured away.

No team in England can match their run of 18 wins in 20 games - and no club will genuinely fancy being drawn at the League One side's decaying Layer Road ground. No wonder Parkinson is being linked with the Leicester job and no wonder players such as two-goal Neil Danns, 23, and the versatile defender Greg Halford, 22, are being scouted by Premiership clubs. Richard Garcia scored Colchester's third to kill the tie by the 58th minute and it was Halford who conceded the penalty for Championship strugglers Derby's late goal.

Colchester's players and manager could fulfil their aims of moving up a grade by ensuring they gain promotion to the Championship, as seems inevitable. But will that be enough? Halford, for example, can run, tackle, pass and shoot with both feet. He insisted: "We can achieve at a higher level. It's all down to hard work and team spirit."

Parkinson had to field a clutch of inexperienced players to cope with the loss of important players such as his goalkeeper, both central defenders and a key central midfielder. The 37-year-old manager is approaching his third anniversary in charge at Colchester and this was possibly his greatest moment to date. He said: "I want to keep this squad together. They've got the right attitude and character. I'm focusing on our next game against Bradford. The players are exactly the same and none of them want to leave. We want to get something together for next season.

"It's exciting for us, people were queuing down the street for this match when we often struggle to get crowds. The thing I want mentioned is that we need a new stadium and a big push with the local council."

Liverpool-born Danns, who joined Colchester on a free after a stop-start spell with Blackburn, said: "It has been a dream come true to play against and beat a team like Derby. We were always confident we could win.

"I don't know much about the speculation. I'm just playing for Colchester and, hopefully, my goals can help us get promotedand whatever happens, happens."

There is not so much for the Derby manager, Phil Brown, to look forward to. He is having a miserable first season and was confronted by an angry fan afterwards, but dismissed calls to quit. "I'm 100 per cent committed," he said. "Criticism is being aimed at me and the board, but we all have to take responsibility. We didn't have the desire. They were hungrier and they wanted it more."

Goals: Danns (44) 1-0; Danns (53) 2-0; Garcia (58) 3-0; Smith pen (78) 3-1.

Colchester United (4-4-2): Gerken; Duguid, Baldwin, Richards, White; Halford, Danns, Izzet, Yeates (Williams, 77); Iwelumo, Garcia (Stockley, 77). Substitutes not used: Guy, Elokobi, Cousins (gk).

Derby County (4-4-1-1): Camp; Hajto, Davies, Nyatanga, M Johnson; Bisgaard, Thirlwell, Bolder (Holmes, 59), Smith; Idiakez; Peschisolido (Holdsworth, 38). Substitutes not used: Poole (gk), Jackson, Edworthy.

Referee: B Curson (Leicestershire).

Booked: Colchester United Yeates; Derby County Thirlwell, Holdsworth.

Man of the match: Halford.

Attendance: 5,933.

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