The big win that Colchester Unitedís recent form had been threatening finally arrived on Saturday afternoon as a Craig Fagan hat-trick guided them to a resounding 4-1 victory over Notts County.
Fagan and Williams formed an potent partnership right from the word go against the struggling Magpies and both were on target as the Uís recorded their biggest win of the season. And the home side could have had more in an impressive afternoonís work.
It continued Faganís talismanic position in the Colchester side where, every time he had hit the target, the Uís remained unbeaten. When the former Birmingham man scores, the Uís record reads six wins, one draw and not one single defeat.
Williams had come in up front for the suspended Wayne Andrews, with the returning Wayne Brown replacing Liam Chilvers in the heart of defence.
The game started off relatively quietly, but the Uís strung together a good move after five minutes. It began with good defending by Wayne Brown, who lay the ball to Simon Brown to clear. A great flick on by Johnson set Williams and Fagan free, with the former sending the latter through for a shot which was tipped around the post.
That was quickly followed by more good work by Williams. He chased a ball down into the corner and laid it into the box to Keith. His run and cross was cleared off the line by Barras for a corner and, after the original set piece was cleared, it required good handling by Garden to stop White nodding home.
The home sideís early pressure paid dividends with a goal on eight minutes. Firstly, Izzet won the ball with a strong tackle in midfield on McHugh and, although Fagan was not the favourite to win the loose ball, he won it and ran clear, before striking a fine shot beyond Garden into the bottom corner of the net.
They could have doubled their lead on eleven minutes when Williams got a shot in on goal. An angled ball over the top eluded Barras and, sidefooting it on the volley, the Palace loanee was only able to strike his shot straight at the County keeper.
It was the bright start that the Uís would have been looking for and carried on where they had left off after some good displays in recent weeks. They were looking sharp and lively and had not given the visitors a chance to settle.
They doubled their lead on 16 minutes after a defensive mistake. Richardson let the ball bounce over his head and, as Garden rushed out to attempt to get to the loose ball, Fagan again reacted quickest to loft the ball over the County keeper and into the back of the unguarded net.
It was a crucial second goal after so many occasions this season where the Uís had taken the lead and not capitalised on their advantage. And, on 19 minutes, they could have made it three after superb work by Keith.
The left winger went on a great run beating three players and laid it to Williams. The striker played it back into Keith and he lofted a curled shot over the outstretched arm of Garden but unfortunately also over the cross bar as it dipped past the upright.
It really was all one way traffic in the early stages and the Uís were very good value for their lead. Not only were they vibrant going forward, they were preventing the visitors having time on the ball and Brown had been relatively untested in the first 25 minutes.
Mills reacted to his teamís subservience by putting three centre halves at the back and moving Pipe over to the left hand side in a 5-3-2 formation. It paid some dividend as the visitors then had a small spell of pressure, although the Magpies were still unable to test the home keeper despite the best efforts of Scully in particular.
However, the home side were still potent. On 31 minutes, Williams saw a loose ball from 35 yards out and lashed in a shot that was destined for the bottom corner until Gardenís dive tipped it around the post.
The frustrations of the visitors showed itself on 38 minutes. Stockley had embarked on a run down the left, which ended without bearing fruit and, as he ran away to restart play, Garden decided to come out and push the Uís man. It saw the keeper receive a yellow card.
Mills continued his tactical tweaking by replacing Scoffham with Parkinson, but it was the Uís who again went close to scoring again. Firstly, Faganís clever run set up Keith on the edge of the box, but his goalbound shot was deflected just wide. From the resulting set piece, Wayne Brown saw the ball come to him twelve yards out but his low strike was cleared off the line.
The Uís finished the first half with a string of corners and Faganís placed header was cleared from danger as he looked to complete his hat-trick. However, it was the visitors who finished the half with the best chance as Heffernanís run and low shot was well saved by Simon Brown as it went towards the bottom corner.
Phil Parkinson made a tactical change of his own at half time, replacing Keith with Jamie Cade for the second period. And the Uís again started brightly, with Halford first embarking on a great run down the right and then heading just wide from the resulting corner.
Despite their dominance, the Uís had to remain on their mettle defensively, with Heffernan and Parkinson sniffing around for any mistakes or space that they could find. Yet, there was always the chance that theyíd score again and it arrived on 54 minutes as Fagan completed his hat-trick.
Johnson did well to beat two men down the left, before sending over a cross into the box. It went to the far post where White headed it back into the danger area and Fagan reacted quickest to rise high and push his header past the exposed Garden.
Things were going from bad to worse for the visitors and Scully, having fallen foul of a heavy challenge from Bowry, was replaced by McGoldrick. And their continued frustrations with how the game was going saw Fenton booked for scything down Fagan. From the resulting free kick, the ball fell to White but his shot was well saved by Garden.
White was then booked in the next phase of play, as he was adjudged to have led with his elbow as he went up for a header with Richardson. From that set piece, the circle was completed as the ball fell to Fenton on the far post but he could only hook his shot straight at Brown.
The game was full of incident and the Uís nearly got a fourth twenty minutes into the second half. Johnson again was the provider, bursting down the left and cutting back from the byline and it was only a late tackle that prevented Fagan getting on the end of it.
It was then the visitors who had a chance to pull one back on 68 minutes. Oakesí free kick was well saved by Brown, but the ball fell straight to Parkinson. However, the keeper reacted sharply to save well again and Johnson hooked clear from off the line.
At this stage, though, the game was somewhat fragmented with a number of free kicks in quick succession breaking up the flow of the game. The visitors were having slightly better of things but White was winning his personal battle with Heffernan Ė although the striker came close with seventeen minutes remaining with a long range drive.
Yet, whilst the Magpies were improving going forward, they still looked shaky at the back and Johnson was next to go close on 75 minutes, driving a low shot into the side netting. Since returning to the first team, he had been dangerous going forward but that first goal was just eluding him.
However, Gareth Williams first goal of his latest loan spell arrived on 77 minutes. Halford had won the ball on the edge of his own box and, as the ball entered the County half, he had continued his run. As he received the ball, he laid it out to Williams in space and, having eventually got it under control, he lashed it home past Garden.
The Uís then made two quick changes, replacing Halford with Chilvers and Bowry with Pinault. And they continued their dominance over the visitors with Williams nearly grabbing a fifth with five minutes to go, lashing in a shot which went just over the bar Ė although Fagan and Cade were both in good positions.
It looked as if the visitors may sneak a late consolation goal when McGoldrick stormed unchallenged down the left and crossed for the awaiting Parkinson. However, his cross was blocked behind for a corner. The Magpies were to get that goal, though, as from the resulting set piece, Richardson rose highest to head home to grab that late strike.
The drama was not over though and Izzet brought down Parkinson in the box after a melee in the box deep into injury time. Heffernan stepped up to take the spot kick, but Brown pulled off a great save to palm the ball around the post.
The Magpiesí late rally was meaningless in the greater scheme of things, however, and the Uís rode out four minutes of additional time to record their biggest win since Phil Parkinsonís first game in charge against Port Vale fourteen months ago
Barside Barmy Army!