Despite dominating large periods of the game, two poorly conceded goals ensured Saints failed to pick anything up from their trip to play-off chasing Colchester - a disappointing start to a season-defining run of five matches against sides above them in the league.
Colchester 2 - Saints 1
Pardew opted for a five-man midfield for this trip to misty East Anglia, partly to neuter the threat of an attacking Colchester side and partly because of doubts over whether David Connolly could last a whole game. But despite this numerical advantage in the middle, Saints seemed overwhelmed themselves in the first half and fell a goal behind. Connolly was brought on to support lone frontman Lambert and restore the side's attacking potency, which seemed to do the trick as Saints had the larger part of the chances and dominated possession in the second half.
They failed to capitalise upon this, however, with Papa Waigo having one chalked off for - quel surprise - offside. Colchester put matters beyond doubt with a second fifteen minutes from time, Ricky Lambert's stoppage time penalty boosting nothing but his goal tally as Saints ran out of time. The significance of the result - against, afterall, virtual play-off certainties - should not be overplayed and the forthcoming visit of Huddersfield and trip to Millwall should prove more profitable. It does, however, slump Saints back into the bottom half of the table. Not where Saints want to be, but, given the traumatic circumstances of 2009, they can consider themselves in rude health and look ahead with confidence to 2010.
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