Life at the new stadium began with the announcement of a sponsorship deal that would see it being named The Weston Homes Community Stadium. The first-ever match was a reduced capacity ramp-up event against Spanish side Athletic Bilbao on August 4, 2008. Scott Vernon had the honour of scoring U's first goal at their new home as 5,610 watched a 2-1 defeat.
In order to iron out any teething problems, United were granted permission by The Football League to play their first two games away from home, and thus the first-ever League fixture came on August 16 against Huddersfield when a 0-0 draw was played out. Mark Yeates became the first U's scorer in a competitive match at WHCS when he bagged both goals in a 2-2 draw with Oldham on August 30. United couldn't force a win at home and following a 3-0 home defeat to MK Dons that left United in the bottom four with a record of 1 League win from 6, Williams was relieved of his duties.
Assistant manager Kit Symons took charge for four games amid speculation that former U's manager Phil Parkinson, then number two at Charlton, or indeed Teddy Sheringham could be the new man in charge. On October 10, 2008 former Wycombe manager Paul Lambert was unveiled as Colchester's new manager. He quickly inspired The U's to record their first home victory in a thumping 5-0 win over Carlisle 15 days later.
On November 18, 2008 the Stadium was rewarded with its first-ever international match when a Henri Lansbury goal gave England Under-19's a 1-0 win over their German counterparts in front of a record crowd of 9,692.
Lambert set to work bringing in several loan players including Marc Tierney, Jimmy Walker and Alan Maybury but a pillar of the club departed in December when Marie Partner left her post as Chief Executive as owner Robbie Cowling shuffled his upstairs pack bringing in Steve Bradshaw. Marie had been Mrs Colchester United for over 21 years and a loyal and valued servant.
Back-to-back wins over Yeovil and Northampton were the first of that kind for 19 months and set up a run spanning the New Year of nine games unbeaten.
Hopes were high, off the field, of the much-needed A12 junction but funding was still not in place because of the economic downturn and the subsequent fall in the housing market that would have contributed to the scheme.
Robbie Cowling bought out all remaining shares in the club via his Aspire Media Group to become sole owner.
A terrific run of 10 wins and four draws from 18 games earned Lambert the January Manager of the Month award as United rose to just 7 points off the Play-Offs. Funding was approved for the A12 junction in March and Lambert continued to strengthen his squad with the loan signings of Ashley Vincent, Neal Trotman and Karl Hawley.
Unfortunately the 'first season syndrome' returned to haunt United as they lost 6 of the remaining 9 home games including the last four on the trot. A new club record attendance was set in April when 9,559 watched one of those defeats to Leeds, but The U's fell back to finish in 12th position - 13 points off a Play-Off place. Strangely the U's had enjoyed their best-ever away season with 11 victories but endured their worst-ever home season with 12 defeats. Lambert vowed he would have a mass clear out in the summer and called each player in one by one before May was out to tell them their fate. He had identified his targets and Robbie Cowling was willing to try to fund those wishes.