"Bring on Brentford" was the cry from the jubilant Colchester manager, Phil Parkinson. "I want Liverpool," countered the goalscoring hero Neil Danns. Whatever happens, the whole of Colchester will be optimistic whoever they draw in tomorrow's FA Cup fifth-round draw.
The bookmakers made League One Colchester marginal favourites to knock Championship strugglers Derby out of the Cup, so it was the emphatic nature of this so-called giant-killing act that caught some of a sell-out 5,933 crowd by surprise.
"Disco" Danns' two goals and another strike from Richard Garcia brought back memories of Colchester's heady days in the 70's when they defeated Don Revie's Leeds to reach the quarter-finals and mark their greatest-ever Cup run.
They are now one round away from matching that feat and have every chance of beating it as they are England's in-form side - this victory extended their run to 18 wins in 20 games. "I'm delighted and I just hope we can keep this run going,'' said the highly rated Parkinson, whose success has resulted in his being linked with the vacant Leicester job.
"I would like to play Brentford in the next round. We had a lot of injury problems today and I had to send out quite a few youngsters, so I was surprised that people thought we were favourites. But it has proved to me how many good players are coming through at this club and makes me even more optimistic that I can achieve my aims with Colchester.''
Parkinson is more worried that the club get a decent new ground and that he can hold on to his better players while there is still a danger they could be transferred during the last knockings of the transfer window.
Parkinson added: "I'm not worried, but there are three days, eight hours and 12 minutes until the transfer window closes and I'm counting every one of them.''
Colchester and Derby could swap divisions when the relegation and promotion issues are settled at the end of the season. Colchester clearly have a few players who could thrive at a higher level and achieved this comfortable win despite being without their first-choice goalkeeper, both central defenders and their linchpin midfielder.
A delighted Danns, who was signed on a free transfer from Blackburn Rovers, was the star of the day as he took his season's goal tally to 13 - seven in January alone - with strikes either side of half-time. The battling midfielder, who has attracted interest from a number of Premiership clubs, struck the opening goal in off a post from eight yards out in the 44th minute.
Derby, now on a run of just two wins in 10, had no answer and fell further behind seven minutes into the second half when Danns was quickest to react and finished by following up Garcia's blocked shot.
Derby crumbled further in the 58th minute when Garcia grabbed his moment of individual glory and killed the tie off. The impressive Greg Halford sent in a cross from the right and Garcia followed up his own header with a scoring shot after a save by keeper Lee Camp.
Derby's goal came with 12 minutes to go after Halford bundled over substitute Lee Holmes to concede a penalty that was converted by Tommy Smith.Reuse content