So once again I found myself visiting The Weston Homes Community Stadium and this time I was hopeful that Colchester United would produce a better result than last week’s humbling defeat against Wolves. This week’s opponents were Walsall. A decent team currently holding a Top 10 league position. I took my seat about 5 minutes before kick-off and my mate passed over his match programme with the comment "look who’s on the front cover today". I took a look and was happy to see a youthful looking Luke Garbutt on the front cover.

I actually wasn’t sure if Garbutt was going to start today as Colchester United left back Tosin Olufemi returned from injury this week and I thought he might reclaim his position because he’s a useful young player himself. But I was pleasantly surprised to hear Luke Garbutt’s name in the starting line-up.

The game began with Colchester starting brightly. Luke Garbutt’s first major involvement came after about 10 minutes. A ball was put over the top and Garbutt and the Walsall attacker raced to reach it. Garbutt used his pace to reach the ball first. I assumed Garbutt would attempt to play the ball back to the keeper or even play it safe by blasting it out for an opposition corner but Garbutt had other ideas. With a deft touch, Garbutt flicked the ball up over his head (and the head of the unsuspecting Walsall player) and turned sharp 180 degrees. He then brought the ball down with perfect control and set off running back towards the Walsall half. I swear Garbutt was about three strides away before the Walsall player had even realised Garbutt had flicked the ball over their heads and was now running in the opposite direction. The crowd went nuts at this with many of the Colchester United fans rewarding Garbutt with a standing ovation. It reminded me of Gazza’s control at Euro 96 when he scored against Scotland and I think it was the first time I have seen Garbutt and thought: Premier League class.

And I’m happy to report this moment of class was not a one-off. About 10 minutes later, Garbutt received the ball midway into the Walsall half and ran with it towards the opposition goal. A Walsall defender stepped up to tackle but was left in his wake as Garbutt skipped past. A second defender quickly tried to block but he too was left looking foolish as Garbutt went past him. Garbutt found himself in the penalty box with a third defender blocking his way. Garbutt twisted and his nifty footwork turned said third defender inside out and a sight of goal opened up for the Everton loanee. I think everyone expected Garbutt to shoot and score his first professional goal but just at the last moment the third defender launched a late tackle and Garbutt went tumbling to the ground. Nearly all the Colchester United fans jumped up to shout penalty but somewhat amazingly the referee wasn’t interested and Walsall somehow cleared the threat away. The referee was booed and then Garbutt received his second standing ovation as he picked himself up.

There were other good moments for Garbutt in the first half. His dead-ball delivery was much improved this week. Garbutt takes nearly all the corners and free-kicks for Colchester United. His corners were much more dangerous this week and, when Colchester won a free-kick just outside the Walsall box, Luke Garbutt stepped up to take it. We all held our breath as Luke’s shot whipped past the post. So close and a real shame as his first-half display warranted a goal.

A great Freddie Sears goal had given Colchester a half-time lead and the fans were optimistic for the second half. Garbutt was easily the best player on display that half.

The second half, however, was a complete no-show from Colchester United. I’m not sure what manager Joe Dunne had said to his troops at half-time but, for almost the entire second half, Colchester looked content to just defend their slender lead. I can honestly say I cannot recall a single attack from Colchester; it was all Walsall in the second half.

Luke Garbutt suffered as a result. He stopped making attacks and spent most of the second half defending as Colchester seemed to invite Walsall to attack. I stopped counting how many times Walsall hit the bar or the post.

Garbutt did well though defending. What I like about him is that he stays on his feet and waits for the opposing player to make a move. Then he uses his pace to tackle.

Garbutt’s best moment in the second half was a defensive one. The Walsall player ran at him down the left side and Garbutt backtracked staying on his feet. The Walsall player cut inside with pace heading toward the middle of the pitch and looked to have left Garbutt behind. But young Luke didn’t give up following the attacker from the left side of the pitch all the way over to the right side. I think the Walsall player just ran out of steam when he got over to the right side and saw Garbutt was still on him. As the Walsall player huffed and puffed Garbutt used his pace and simply stepped in front of the attacker took control of the ball and brought it away. This was another moment from which Garbutt got applause from the Colchester fans.

One thing I noticed today is that Garbutt doesn’t pick up anyone during opposition corners. Instead, he stands just outside the box waiting for other bigger players to clear the lines. If Garbutt has a weakness, then it’s probably in the air.

Garbutt and the rest of the Colchester defenders worked tirelessly to defend attack after attack in the seconhad lf and looked to have secured all 3 points but sadly there was to be 5 minutes of added time and, in the 5th minute, with nearly the last kick of the game, Walsall found an equaliser with a free-kick just outside the box.

Disappointing for Colchester but positive for Everton as this was easily the best performance I have watched from young Luke. He was really good today, especially in the first half while Colchester were more attacking. He looks like he’s settling in at Colchester now and getting to grips with regular League One football.

I’ll end this report with another great moment for Luke Garbutt today. Around the 85th minute, the Colchester United speaker system put out the following announcement:

"Voted today as the official Colchester United Starman is..... LUKE GARBUTT!!!"

Cue another round of applause for young Luke. Well done son. Well done.

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Reader Comments (5)

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Derek Thomas
1 Posted 12/10/2013 at 21:55:16
Seems like the Colchester manager has been reading from the Moyes KITAP1 manual.

Trouble is they only have to get lucky once - and the did.

David Donnellan
3 Posted 12/10/2013 at 22:17:41
He had a good loan spell at Cheltenham Town as well, as I remember. Scoring a couple of goals during his loan spell & playing an FA Cup tie for Cheltenham against Spurs.
Michael Winstanley
5 Posted 13/10/2013 at 12:11:44
Cheers Dick, nice to read the lad has a bit of quality about him.
Duncan McDine
6 Posted 13/10/2013 at 17:05:29
Thanks for the great write-up, Dick. Keep them coming, mate... it sounds like he's becoming a fans' favourite and will do him no harm to keep extending the loan as long as Baines and Oviedo are fit.
Andy Mack
7 Posted 13/10/2013 at 21:48:55
Anyone managed to find any highlights of this game anywhere? Great report thanks, nice to have some news on our would-be first teamers.

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