Burton Albion went goal crazy at the Pirelli Stadium notching up the biggest win of the Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink era as Colchester United were put to the sword in a 5-1 win.
The U's even took a shock fourth minute lead when Callum Harriott smashed in a superb left foot shot from the edge of the box but Albion were in front by the break thanks to a superb free kick from Nasser El Khayati and a deflected finish from Mark Duffy. Any thoughts that Colchester might get back into it in the second half were quickly dampened as Tom Naylor poked home six minutes after the break before late goals from substitutes Lucas Akins and Timmy Thiele added a gloss to the biggest victory since promotion. For Akins, who had not scored since the opening day of the season, and Thiele, heading in his first for the club, it was a sweet way to end the day.
With Jerome Binnom-Williams reporting fit after a stiff knee ruled him out of the game at Wigan he was the one change to the line-up that claimed an important victory at the DW Stadium. He came back into the side at the expense of Calum Butcher. The Crystal Palace loanee slotted in on the left hand side of midfield as Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink opted not to change the back four but may have been regretting that decision after just four minutes. Anthony O'Connor carelessly surrendered possession on the half way line. From there Albion were stretched as Gavin Massey sped away and delivered a decent cross into the centre. Skipper John Mousinho got a head to the ball and cleared it to the edge of the box where Charlton Athletic loanee HARRIOTT was able to set himself and send a low left foot shot unerringly past Jon McLaughlin into the bottom corner of the net.
It was an unusually sloppy start from Albion and that continued just after the quarter of an hour mark when McLaughlin tried to play the ball short out to Phil Edwards allowing Harriott to nick possession and although Mousinho cleared the initial danger when the ball came into the box Edwards was guilty of giving the ball away in a dangerous position, The U's unable to make Albion pay for their profligacy.
It took Albion until minute 25 to breach the leakiest defence in the Football League and it came from a slightly fortuitious free kick. Harriott and Edwards both went up for an aerial challenge and both required treatment after clumsily bundling into each other but referee Ben Toner saw something to award Albion a free kick. EL KHAYATI stepped up and spotted a gep between the defensive wall and the post and sent a precise effort around the defenders and into a gap where keeper Jamie Jones should really have covered it off. Whatever the good fortune about it Albion didnt really care.
Ten minutes later and Albion had turned the game around completely. It owed much to the industry of Stuart Beavon who won a header and then ran on to it inside the full back. Bursting towards the box he laid it into the path of Mark DUFFY who skipped past a challenge and with the aid of a deflection from a Colchester defender lifted a shot over Jones to put the Brewers in front.
It was enough to put Albion back in control of the match as the game went into the break.
Half time: Burton Albion 2-1 Colchester United
O'Connor failed to reappear for the second period as the teams came back out to be met by teeming rain. Damien McCrory was reintegrated to the side after a spell out with a hip flexor problem and restored the balance on the left hand side of the defence.
It took just five minutes of the second half for Albion to extend their lead although there was an element of uncertainty as to who got the credit for the finish. Duffy did well to skip past a couple of challenges and pulled the trigger as a challenge by Frankie Kent came in. The ball seemed to ricochet off Tom NAYLOR before ending in the bottom corner of the net.
Colchester opted to go for it and too a defender off in Richard Brindley and replace him with a striker in the form of Marvin Sordell. Brindley had not featured since August due to injury so it was perhaps not a surprise he made way.
Sordell up front with Chris Porter brought a different dimension to the United attack and Burton immediately had to weather a spell of pressure from the visitors. They will not come closer without scoring than they did on 63 minutes. A break down the left saw Harriott latch onto it again and his left foot strike from the edge of the box careered off the inside of the upright and flew across the face of goal to the agony of the U's fans behind the goal who were momentarily convinced that they were back in the game. Sordell curled an effort too high as he linked up well with Harriott on the right hand side.
Lucas Akins came on as a substitute for Binnom-Williams and with one of his first touches he grabbed a goal. He had barely been involved as the visitors had been pressing for a goal t give them hope but that hope was extinguished when fellow substitute McCrory crossed in from the left and AKINS produced a guided volley beyond Jones into the corner of the net. A superb finish if ever there was one.
A third change for Albion saw Beavon rested with the points securely in the bag at 4-1. Timmy Thiele was sent on for the closing stages in search of that elusive first Burton goal.
It took just minutes for him to raise the biggest cheer around the Pirelli. A corner from the right was flicked on by Naylor in the middle and THIELE was at the back post with the simple task of heading in. It was joy unbridled for the German who ran off to celebrate in front of the home end supporters.
Porter almost grabbed a consolation for the visitors on 85 minutes after a strong run down the left by Matthew Briggs. The left back burst from his own half holding off a challenge from Naylor before setting up his skipper who was thwarted by McLaughlin.
Sordell squandered a golden opportunity when he found himself clean through but having got around McLaughlin he saw a shot that should have ended in the back of the net somehow deflected behind for a corner. Even from the corner McLaughlin produced a good block to deny midfielder George Moncur who showed a few tricks to work room for the shot.
Porter forced McLaughlin into a save at full stretch as the game headed into added time and Sordell lobbed the ball over both keeper and crossbar as it proved to be a frustrating afternoon for the visitors who had looked good going forwards but paid the price for a poor defensive showing with Albion in clinical mood in attack.