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Another new ground next season
at 16:44 14 May 2017

Forest Green currently 3-1 up at Wembley against Tranmere.

85 mins played

Up the U's
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Day of reckoning at the WHCS on Saturday evening - Up the U's
at 14:14 5 May 2017

JM and SB are preparing their charges for the 46th game of the League Season. Now of course there may be another three games to come, potentially ending in glory at Wembley on 28th May, but let us for now focus on the requirement to defeat the Glovers on Saturday evening. The 5.30pm kick off means that we will not know our fate until about 7.15pm.

Darren Way’s Yeovil Town of course would like to be the party spoilers and with our considerable history of final game dramas (May 2006 takes some beating) JM knows that the U’s must be fully focussed to achieve the three points that will give them a fighting chance of the play-offs.

Sadly, the matter is not in our own hands. Not only do Colchester have to win, but also three of Carlisle, Blackpool, Stevenage and Cambridge must FAIL to win.

The other final day League Two fixtures that count are as follows;

Blackpool v Orient – Blackpool sit firmly in the box seat with 67 points and a plus 21 goal difference. Can Leyton Orient and their depleted supporters (the EFL has agreed to Blackpool’s request to limit the away ticket allocation to 1000 die hard Orient supporters) manage an almost impossible result and win or draw at Bloomfield Road. I suppose it comes down to who their supporters believe is the most loathsome, Oyston or Becchetti. Can Orient end their League status in some style and give something back to their long-suffering supporters.

Exeter v Carlisle – This really is the “game of death”. Now, after the EFL have launched an investigation into Huddersfield Town’s 10 changes for last weekend’s game at Birmingham (in the knowledge that they already had secured a play-off berth) will the Grecians risk saving their “stars” and play a weakened team against the Cumbrians, for whom Jabo Ibehre is on fire at present or will they attempt to ensure some psychological influence over their opponents and send them back to Carlisle pointless and possibly knocking them out of the play-off running to boot . It will be a fascinating game at St James’ Park. Exeter are of course already assured of a play-off place and cannot be unseated from their 5th place finish.

Stevenage v Accrington – Last season Accrington Stanley lost their opportunity to be promoted automatically on the last day and then lost in the play-offs. They have achieved mid table mediocrity this season, whilst achieving the double over Colchester; the game at the Crown Ground was probably our worst first half performance of any game this season. Will Accrington really want to lose to another rival on the last day or will they try to spoil the Stevenage party or will they be in flip flop mode. Stevenage after their magnificent run of games have well and truly gone off the boil. They cannot afford to slip up on Saturday and will be under some considerable pressure to secure the three points, which will probably confirm their play-off position, providing other results go their way.

Wycombe v Cambridge – The Chairboys were odds on for a play-off position several weeks ago and then embarked upon self-destruction with a shocking run of defeats, which almost put them out of contention. Their goal difference (+4) means that even a victory on Saturday is unlikely to see them into the 7th position, but can Cambridge with their 10 away victories and marginal better GD than Colchester secure a crucial victory. Certainly, a draw is no good for either side and should lead to a classic encounter.

It is clear that the fixture computer has not let anyone down with such key last day fixtures, that will determine the 6th and 7th place finishes in League Two this season.

The table currently stands thus:

Plymouth 45 +25 86 Promoted
Doncaster 45 +31 85 Promoted
Pompey 45 +34 84 Promoted

Luton 45 +25 74 Play-offs
Exeter 45 +20 71 Play-offs

Carlisle 45 0 68
Blackpool 45 +21 67

Stevenage 45 +7 67
Cambridge 45 +9 66
COLCHESTER 45 +8 66
Wycombe 45 +4 66
Mansfield 45 +4 65

Colchester managed to pick up two further injuries prior to last weekend’s game; Brennan Dickenson and Cameron James. Dickenson of course deservedly scooped the top two awards this week as Colchester United’s Official POTY and the Player’s POTY.

Sadly, our unprecedented injury crisis cost the club an automatic promotion berth and that makes the achievement of the remaining players to be battling for 7th place on the final day all the more remarkable.

Kurtis Guthrie, Sammy Szmodics, Craig Slater, Frankie Kent, Denny Johnstone and Luke Prosser remain long term absentees and their returns next season will make it almost seem like a whole new team has been procured.

JM will ponder whether Cameron James will be fit enough to play against Yeovil. If so then Alex Wynter will give way. Should he not make it then I would imagine that an almost unchanged starting line-up will be announced on Saturday. The one other place potentially up for grabs is a second out and out striker, given that not only is the win required but also the need to better Cambridge’s scoreline (assuming they win at Wycombe of course). That would mean Macca Bonne getting the nod after his fine goal against the Orient. JM must decide and choose wisely.

Team

Walker

Eastman Wynter Elokobi

Brindley Lapslie Murray Briggs

Wright Porter Fosu

Subs:

Brill Vincent-Young Kinsella Loft O’Sullivan Bonne Pyke

A decent crowd is expected, probably 6,000+ with only 200 or so from Somerset.

Weather set fair, pitch immaculate, three points to cap a superb home season with potentially 14 wins, what is not to like.

Let us hope that the U’s can secure that final play-off spot on Saturday evening; after all we have had four successive years of struggle with last gasp escapes, it would be great to secure an opportunity to return to league one at the first attempt and to play Luton Town, a team that we have done the double over this season in the semi-finals.

Enjoy the game.

Up the promotion chasing U’s



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Blackpool stacking the odds in their favour
at 20:35 1 May 2017

The EFL have supported a request from the Seasiders to suspend ticket sales to Leyton Orient supporters ahead of Saturday evenings game.

Clearly hoping to avoid the farcical scenes witnessed at Brisbane Road last Saturday, they will now only have their own disruptive "fans" to contend with.

I can only hope that Orient players demonstrate some pride and give their remaining loyal supporters the opportunity to witness an away victory.

I also believe that this ruling could set an unfortunate precedent. Do clubs now prevent Millwall or Leeds supporters (no offence LB) from travelling to away games for fear of disruption.

It could also be argued that the stewards were dilatory on Saturday by not anticipating an invasion especially as it had been widely discussed in the news prior to the game.

Very unsatisfactory, not least because I am sure many Orient supporters would have liked a weekend away in the North West.

In the meantime Up the U's
[Post edited 1 May 20:45]
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Super U's to find the Orient full of Eastern promise
at 21:44 28 Apr 2017

JM takes his charges to the penultimate game of the season against Leyton Orient at Brisbane Road on Saturday, knowing that three-point s and a further three against Yeovil in the final game may not be enough to secure a play-off spot.

First though some reflection from last week’s trip to the WHCS for a thoroughly entertaining game against the Pilgrims.

I travelled the 265 miles from Durham arriving in good time to peruse the souvenirs in the club shop. The journey was very good and the weather was dry with some sunshine. Inside the WHCS the pitch was probably the very best that I have seen since the stadium opened in 2008. It was immaculate and part of the reason for our excellent home form this season. In fact, Joe Davis could have played billiards on it such was the quality of the baize.

A healthy attendance of 5,432 with 1,025 travelling from Devon made for a decent atmosphere. Plymouth had certainly come to try and win the game, whilst Colchester knew that they really had to secure maximum points to give a real chance of the play offs.

Colchester lined up:

Walker

Eastman James Elokobi

Brindley Lapslie Murray Fosu

Wright Porter Dickenson

Subs:

Brill Briggs Wynter Bonne O’Sullivan Loft Pyke

This really was the game where, with some more good fortune, Chris Porter could have scored four goals. Sadly, he missed them all, the worst, a horrible missed header when well-placed from a delightful cross from Brennan Dickenson on 37 minutes.

Big George Elokobi (who deservedly won MOTM) was unfairly cautioned by the referee for a fierce challenge in the first half on Taylor.

Plymouth had their moments with a cross shot from Sarcevic narrowly missing Walker’s far post. But this was a game where Colchester were dominant without converting the one chance that their play deserved.

The second half brought more opportunities without the U’s able to capitalise, whilst Plymouth demonstrated their Away credentials (13 victories on the road) with some stout and robust defending.

JM brought young Pyke into the action on 75 minutes for the tiring Fosu who had played very well and showed many creative touches. The excellent Lapslie who ran tirelessly was substituted after 80 minutes with Doug Loft gaining some more playing minutes.

However, it was Macca Bonne who once again was on the bench but missed out on any game time.

Towards the final whistle, Chris Porter had two more opportunities to break the deadlock when on 83 minutes he turned smartly, but his ground shot grazed the upright of McCormick’s goal whilst a free kick from Richard Brindley was headed over the goal.

Unfortunately, the drawn game means that it is still two seasons since I last witnessed a U’s victory. Incredible but true!

Tomorrow brings another challenge. A team already relegated to the Fifth Tier of English football with an unpopular owner in Francesco Becchetti who can often be seen in his Mayfair Mansion worth a reputed £25M. Whilst Manager Omer Riza must preside a team short on confidence and without Gavin Massey again.

Leyton Orient have made the game all ticket. Protests from the fans are predicted. Colchester must ensure that they do a professional job on Orient and must not be distracted by marches, sit ins, protests, banners etc. The faithful will be there in number with over 1200 tickets sold so far. The atmosphere will be superb and the U’s know that three points is the target.

It will be akin to the match at Belle Vue Doncaster when a Rovers team already relegated hosted the U’s. There were “funeral marches”, a coffin, a sit in protest by about 200 supporters and at least 7 incursions onto the playing surface during the game. Colchester won 1-0 that day which secured a ply off spot. As stated earlier two wins are vital and may not be enough but we must try.

Ultimately 4 away wins have been insufficient and I fear that we will fall short but JM must motivate his players to win them both.

I suspect that an unchanged starting line up to last Saturday will be the order of the day:

Walker

Eastman James Elokobi

Brindley Lapslie Murray Fosu

Wright Porter Dickenson

Subs:

Brill Briggs Wynter Bonne O’Sullivan Loft Pyke




The table is still too close to predict:

Doncaster 44 85 - Exeter H, Hartlepool A
Plymouth 44 83 – Crewe H, Grimsby A
Pompey 44 81 – Mansfield A, Cheltenham H

Luton 44 71 – Accrington A, Morecambe H
Exeter 44 68 – Doncaster A, Carlisle H
Blackpool 44 67 – Notts Co A, Orient H
Stevenage 44 66 – Yeovil A, Accrington H

Mansfield 44 65 – Pompey H, Crawley A
Wycombe 44 65 – Morecambe A, Cambridge H
Carlisle 44 65 – Newport H, Exeter A
Cambridge 44 63 – Crawley H, Wycombe A
COL U 44 63 - Orient A, Yeovil H
Accrington 44 62 – Luton H, Stevenage A

I’m sure that U’s fans have all considered the permutations but in the final analysis, we cannot influence the table. We must simply win and finish on 69 points and hope that this will be good enough to secure seventh place.

It will go to the wire.

Tomorrow the U’s faithful will roar them to success at an emotional Brisbane Road.

Safe journey to the travelling faithful, enjoy the game.

Up the U’s


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Super U's to overcome the Green Army at Fortress WHCS
at 20:58 21 Apr 2017

JM has three games remaining to achieve three maximums and finish on 71 points. Anything less and the U’s will definitely face another season in League Two.

Should that happen, then the events at the Globe Arena, whilst not helping the U’s cause, would not be the primary reason for promotion failure. A wretched away record of just 4 wins, 8 draws and 10 defeats, is where the blame lies fair and square.

This has been a season long away failure, with only the purple patch around 22 November 2016 until 7 January 2017, where we were at times unplayable and obtained 3 of the 4 away victories.

The 10 defeats at Pompey, Carlisle, Doncaster, Plymouth and Exeter might have been expected but Yeovil, Accrington, Grimsby, Crewe and Notts County should not have happened. That is the reason why we are scrambling with up to 7 clubs for that final play-off position and with only 3 games still to play.

Our first ever visit to the Globe Arena ended in a disappointing draw, but for 87 minutes it seemed that the U’s might end their 2017 away win drought.

Colchester lined up:

Walker

Eastman James Elokobi

Brindley Loft Murray Fosu

Wright Dickenson

Porter

Subs:

Brill Briggs Wynter Pyke O’Sullivan Kinsella Diaz Wright

Doug Loft made a start because Tom Lapslie was nursing a shoulder injury. The mystery as to where Macca Bonne was became instantly apparent, when he was seen partying with the faithful. JM has made it clear that Bonne’s nonappearance is because Loft is back in contention, but that does not explain the entire season when Bonne has mustered no more than 14 minutes in any one game and normally far less. When the season is finally over an inquest (chaired by the Essex Coroner) must surely be arranged to explain exactly why he is so out of favour with the U’s hierarchy.

The faithful, of which there must have been about 250 were in good voice in a disappointing crowd of 1,447.

The U’s started brightly and could have been 2-0 up within the first five minutes. Presentable chances for Fosu and Brindley were not taken.

However, a free kick secured on the left-hand side of the penalty area won by Fosu, was brilliantly converted by Richard Brindley on 22 minutes. The U’s were deservedly ahead on a bumpy threadbare surface and although Morecambe had a goal correctly ruled out for offside, the home side did not offer very much in the final third.

The meat and potato pie (with gravy) was excellent and ran the pie at Rochdale a close second to all the grounds that I have visited over the past 5 years.

The early warm sunshine was quickly replaced by a sharp shower and reduction in temperature which ended just after half time but by then the game was becoming very scrappy and the fluency shown by the U’s in the first 45 was not matched for the second.

Evans was introduced by Jim Bentley at half time (Bentley looks like a night club bouncer and has the physical appearance to match, he prowled the touchline intimidating all and sundry).

Colchester were in control however and JM made a couple of defensive changes, the tiring Loft was replaced by Wynter as JM went four at the back on 76 minutes. Then O’Sullivan replaced Fosu on 83 minutes.

Evans though looked lively and as the clock ticked around to 87 minutes the U’s won another corner (they mustered 10 during the game). Instead of taking the ball to the corner it was presented to keeper Nizic and he launched it forward, a mix up allowed the ball to fall to Evans and he was on the edge of the area when a clumsy challenge by Wynter allowed him to go down and the referee couldn’t wait to point to the spot.

Worse, ex Col U player Rose (after a stuttering run up, which I dislike intensely) despatched the penalty past Walker.

JM then introduced young Pyke for Wright on 90 minutes. Frankly a waste of time. JM was too defence minded and it cost us the two points. Briggs would have been a better introduction on the left side whilst bringing a second striker on after 90 minutes’ beggars belief.

Realistically, with other results going well for the U’s and with only Blackpool, pulling off a surprise win at the Keep Moat, the extra two points would have put us firmly in the box seat, but as I mentioned earlier the play offs were not gained or lost at the Globe arena, but with those shocking 10 defeats away from the WHCS.

At least the games are coming thick and fast. This weekend the Green Army, fresh from their promotion to League One are in Town. Now earlier in the season we were robbed off at least one point by an unfortunate injury to the Referee coupled with an 11-minute delay and then some gamesmanship, which meant that instead of throwing the ball back to Colchester (we put the ball out of play when the Referee was injured), Plymouth retained possession and a poor back pass from Luke Prosser was half cleared by Walker, only to cannon off the onrushing Plymouth substitute and looped into the empty net.

Plymouth of course are now harbouring ambitions of the Championship after Donny Rovers slip up against the Seasiders. Tomorrow will therefore not be an easy game against a side that has secured 13 away wins. However, the U’s simply have to win and so in front of about 5,000 we can expect an entertaining game.

The U’s could line up as follows:

Walker

Eastman James Elokobi

Wright Brindley Loft Murray Dickenson

Porter Pyke

Subs:

Brill Briggs Wynter Fosu O’Sullivan Kinsella Diaz Wright

Take the game to Plymouth, strike early and the three points will be the U’s.

The table is becoming very competitive as the following shows:

Doncaster 43 85 - Wycombe A, Exeter H, Hartlepool A
Plymouth 43 82 – COL U A, Crewe H, Grimsby A
Pompey 43 78 – Cambridge H, Mansfield A, Cheltenham H

Luton 43 68 – Notts Co H, Accrington A, Morecambe H
Stevenage 43 66 – Mansfield H, Yeovil A, Accrington H
Exeter 43 65 – Morecambe H, Doncaster A, Carlisle H
Blackpool 43 64 – Cheltenham H, Notts Co A, Orient H

Carlisle 43 64 – Crawley A, Newport H, Exeter A
Cambridge 43 63 – Pompey A, Crawley H, Wycombe A
COL U 43 62 – Plymouth H, Orient A, Yeovil H
Accrington 43 62 – Newport A, Luton H, Stevenage A
Mansfield 43 62 – Stevenage A, Pompey H, Crawley A
Wycombe 43 62 – Doncaster H, Morecambe A, Cambridge H

One thing is certain, the Playoff positions will not be concluded until after the 6th May. It is going to be exciting.

Enjoy the game.

Up the U’s

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Super U's to net three Shrimps (points) at the Globe Arena
at 23:38 16 Apr 2017

Easter Monday sees JM take his promotion chasing charges to the Globe Arena Morecambe to catch some Shrimps, fresh from Morecambe Bay.

The U’s first ever visit to the Arena comes at a vital time in the season and our most important game since, well Good Friday, when we entertained the Champions elect Donny Rovers in a thoroughly interesting game, where a draw was probably the fairest result.

The league table and remaining games are as follows:

Doncaster 42 85 – Blackpool H, Wycombe A, Exeter H, Hartlepool A
Plymouth 42 79 – Newport H, COL U A, Crewe H, Grimsby A
Pompey 42 75 – Notts Co A, Cambridge H, Mansfield A, Cheltenham H

Luton 42 67 – Mansfield A, Notts Co H, Accrington A, Morecambe H
Exeter 42 65 – Cambridge A, Morecambe H, Doncaster A, Carlisle H
Stevenage 42 65 – Carlisle A, Mansfield H, Yeovil A, Accrington H
Carlisle 42 63 – Stevenage H, Crawley A, Newport H, Exeter A

Blackpool 42 61 – Doncaster A, Cheltenham H, Notts Co A, Orient H
COL U 42 61 – Morecambe A, Plymouth H, Orient A, Yeovil H
Mansfield 42 61 – Luton H, Stevenage A, Pompey H, Crawley A

Now I’m not going to attempt to predict the results; anyone looking at the Prediction league will see my inability to forecast too accurately! But I will just say that we can achieve the 12 points from our last four games and that will be more than enough. I also believe that the game between Exeter and Carlisle on the final day of the season will be crucial in deciding both those team’s fates.

Morecambe, managed by Jim Bentley, perhaps surprisingly won at Stevenage on Good Friday and will be buoyed by that performance, particularly as it has probably eased their relegation worries. Having said that they will not be in flip flop mode today, mainly because they will be looking to secure the points against a team that unfortunately does not travel well on occasion.

I believe that Colchester will have too much for the Shrimps and it will be their goal keeper Nizic who will be picking the ball out of the net rather than Sam Walker.

JM may also be able to field a virtually unchanged team again; the one exception is whether Tom Lapslie will be fully fit. Should he not play then either O’Sullivan or Loft will step in as midfield cover. The one continuing conundrum however is Macca Bonne. He didn’t even get his 5 minutes of playing time on Friday because he wasn’t in the squad. I don’t know whether he is injured or whether Loft’s return to fitness has relegated him from the squad.

Team:

Walker

Eastman James Elokobi

Brindley Murray Lapslie Fosu

Wright Porter Dickenson

Subs:
Brill Wynter Briggs Kinsella O’Sullivan Loft Pyke

Ironically when we have incurred as many as 13 first team casualties at any one time this season, Tom Lapslie has identified the U’s superior fitness as one of the factors as to why they can achieve the play offs. I know many of the injuries have occurred during matches, but several have taken place during training sessions.

Safe journey to the travelling faithful, several of whom will have made a long weekend of it in sunny Morecambe.

Enjoy the game.

Up the Super U’s

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Another vital three points for the Super U's to secure at WHCS on Good Friday
at 18:03 12 Apr 2017

JM, fresh from a spectacular victory against Stevenage (can we play you every week?) is preparing his charges for a vital Good Friday encounter against newly promoted Doncaster Rovers.

Now earlier in the season, I watched as we lost narrowly to Donny Rovers in a keenly contested game at the Keep Moat stadium. This week however the stakes are much higher. Although Doncaster have been promoted, they are not yet assured of winning the league and Darren Ferguson will be keen to cement his side as champions as soon as possible.

By contrast JM will want the three points to strengthen our claim on a play off place. It is therefore a must win for both teams.

Ferguson has just been awarded the League Two Manager of the Year award and John Marquis, who has scored 26 goals in 40 games, has received the League Two Player of the year award. Often of course these awards come with a curse for their next match.

Doncaster have few injury concerns, James Coppinger is doubtful, but I suspect he will play some part in Friday’s game.

Doncaster have also frozen their season ticket prices for next season, meaning that an adult ticket will cost £299 in league one or £13 per home game; whilst a child will only pay £30 or £1.30 per game.

Doncaster will also have a big say in the promotion and relegation issues with games to come after Friday against Blackpool H, Wycombe A, Exeter H and Hartlepool A. Their final game could decide Hartlepool’s fate, as they are locked in a basement Battle with Newport County.

Colchester of course have been rocked by the news that Owen Garvan has left the club by mutual consent after some 6 weeks of discussions between club and player. The official line is “for personal reasons”. The timing is very poor however and whilst wishing him well for the future, I can’t but help thinking that he could have stayed until the end of the season.

Doug Loft has however played for the U23’s and could feature towards the end of the season although Friday is surely too soon.

The league looks like this as at 12 Apr:

Doncaster 41 84
Plymouth 41 78
Portsmouth 41 74

Luton 41 66
Stevenage 41 65
Exeter 41 62
Carlisle 41 62

Blackpool 41 60
Cambridge 41 60
COL U 41 60

JM will be hoping for another big victory to match recent wins against Mansfield, Luton and Stevenage at fortress WHCS. He would do well to forget all about how Doncaster might play in view of their promotion and concentrate instead on ensuring that his players remain focussed on the vital three points at stake for the winner.

Some of the team have commented about the play offs, which is only natural given the very tight battle for those four play-off positions. It is all about results however and earning that final play-off place and no one should forget that.

Easter Monday sees a massive game at sunny Morecambe, before another huge home match against the green Army when Plymouth come to Town. That then leaves Orient Away and Yeovil at Home.

The Play Off Semi Finals have been confirmed for: Sunday 14 May @ 6.30pm and Thursday 18 May @ 7.45pm.

The Final is at Wembley on Sunday 28 May @ 3pm. Keep these dates free in your diary.

JM is likely to field an unchanged team on Friday with Tarique Fosu retaining his starting place in a 3,4,3 formation.

Walker

Eastman James Elokobi

Brindley Lapslie Murray Fosu

Wright Porter Dickenson

Subs:

Brill Wynter Briggs Kinsella O’Sullivan Pyke Bonne

A decent holiday crowd, swelled by Doncaster bringing over 1,000 supporters, will make for an entertaining game at the WHCS.

As a footnote - last season over the Easter period we defeated Doncaster 4-1 at the WHCS and then won 1-0 at Coventry City – this season two victories back to back against Donny Rovers and Morecambe would come in very handy for the promotion campaign.

The team last year against Doncaster was Parish, Edwards, Eastman, Chambers, Shorey, Garvan, Gilbey, Moncur, Massey, Porter, Lee. Subs – Barnes, Wright, Kent, Bonne, Lapslie, Brindley, Ambrose. Only 6 from that squad of 18 will be likely to see action on the field this Friday. Significantly of course some key players are sadly still injured.

I believe that we can achieve the play offs and if we do then anything is possible.

Enjoy the game.

Up the Super U’s


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Owen Garvan departs the club
at 11:51 11 Apr 2017

Disappointing news that Owen Garvan has left the club with immediate effect.

Reported to be for personal reasons, which clearly the club have been trying to resolve for some weeks now.

Owen Garvan, when fit, was a top class midfield player who played 53 games for the U's, including 18 this season.

Always had time on the ball, always looked for a telling pass and was a class act in League Two.

Very sad that he will not be at Wembley for the play off final this season.

He is wished all the very best for the future.

Up the U's
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Simply a must win at the WHCS tomorrow for JM's team
at 20:31 7 Apr 2017

It’s not the despair, I can take the despair. It’s the hope I can’t stand.

One of the John Cleese quotes as the hapless Headteacher Brian Stimpson in the underrated film Clockwise, but it sums up brilliantly the lot of a Colchester United supporter.

Prior to last week’s game at Notts County we noted the threat from Amoebi and Stead. Of course, it was Amoebi who played brilliantly and stole the show with two well taken goals. However, Chris Porter scored one of the best goals that you could wish to see to give the U’s hope.

In the end, of course it was the curse of the Away game that led to the faithful singing “will we ever win away?”

Things got off to the worst possible start when Gerry and I failed to find the restaurant that we had arranged to meet at. Instead we joined many of the home faithful in a local hostelry and then “enjoyed” a pie and cheese and onion pasty from the club facilities.

The pitch looked uneven and bumpy but the day was set reasonably fair and the faithful of which 417 had made the journey were in good voice amongst a crowd of 6,104.

JM had lined his charges up thus:

Walker

Eastman James Elokobi

Wright Brindley Lapslie Murray Dickenson

Pyke Porter

Subs:

Brill Briggs Wynter Kinsella O’Sullivan Fosu Bonne

Now we cannot avoid conceding an early goal away from home and Meadow Lane was no different. On 7 minutes the ball bounced around the Colchester box after Amoebi had hit the post and it was forced home by Hollis.

Colchester though were not dismayed by falling behind and deservedly equalised on 21 minutes when Porter received a throw in ghosted between two defenders and let fly with his left foot and into the far side of the goal. Cue rapturous applause and celebrations from the faithful. Now this was the moment to stamp our authority on the game. However, Colchester reverted to playing one up top with Pyke going deeper and becoming less effective by the minute.

The result was that County became more encouraged and in the 35th minute the unfortunate Cameron James was poleaxed by a shot from Hewitt (ex Col U) and whilst prone in the penalty area Amoebi fired past Walker. 2-1 down and after lengthy treatment James continued but he was clearly badly affected by the injury and was replaced at half time by Matt Briggs.

This disrupted our defence at a critical time in the game and try as we could we made no real impression on the county goal. When Amoebi headed a third on 73 minutes the game was up.

It was only then that JM made the final two subs with Fosu on for Lapslie and Bonne for the ineffectual Pyke. An effort from Porter on 82 minutes might have found the net but it was yet another defeat away from fortress WHCS.

The result of course should have put paid to any lingering promotion hopes, but while it is still mathematically possible to gain a top seven spot, we should continue to hope. That of course is the problem, despair can be coped with, hope less so!!!

6 games remain and with 57 points another 18 could be garnered and 75 would definitely do but 72 might be enough. There’s that hope again.

Stevenage provide the opposition on Saturday with Darren Sarll’s team arriving at the WHCS in a very handy fourth place in the table. It is of course a must win game for the U’s to keep any hopes alive.

Then of course we entertain league leaders Doncaster, who will probably be promoted by then before we play at Morecambe, then Plymouth come to the WHCS then we play doomed Leyton Orient at Brisbane Road, before the final league game at home to Yeovil on May 6th.

I reckon 15 points will do but can we obtain them. Do we have the quality on the field to win the required games, can we win away from home? We will never have a better opportunity than at Morecambe and Orient.

The team is likely to be unchanged for the visit of Stevenage:

Walker

Eastman James Elokobi

Wright Brindley Lapslie Murray

Pyke Porter Dickenson

Subs:

Brill Briggs Wynter Kinsella O’Sullivan Fosu Bonne

It is win or bust, simple as.

Enjoy the game.

Up the U's


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Super U's to clip Magpie's wings in gripping Meadow Lane encounter
at 16:52 31 Mar 2017

This weekend JM takes his rejuvenated charges to Meadow Lane Nottingham to play Kevin Nolan’s Magpies. After a vital three points against the Hatters (and a notable double) this will offer a test to see whether the Super U’s are capable of improving upon their otherwise poor Away form.

This season the record stands at 4 wins, 7 draws and 9 defeats. The victories have come at Wycombe, Cheltenham, Luton and Stevenage, whilst we still have, after Saturdays game at Notts Co, Morecambe and Orient to play away from the WHCS. Frankly nothing short of three victories will be good enough, but can the U’s do it.

Despite JM’s protestations, he is too defensive and negative minded away from home. Invariably in such games the damage has been done before the team are given the opportunity to play freely and without the fear which they seem to have instilled in them in the early stages of Away games.

This has been very much the case at all the Away games that I have been to this season, which have largely resulted in defeats (10 games, 7 defeats and 3 draws).

Carlisle, where they were on their record breaking unbeaten run at the start of the season and where we conceded and were chasing the game when former Super U Jabo Ibehre came off the bench to condemn the U’s to defeat with a headed second goal.

Doncaster Rovers, where we lost narrowly, conceding just before halftime and then battled hard for an equaliser, falling just short in the second half.

Plymouth Argyle, where we looked odds on for at least a deserved point until the Referee was knocked unconscious and was replaced only for the resultant throw in ball to be taken from the wrong position and not given back to the U’s (as it should have been) and a casual back pass to Walker from Luke Prosser led to a bizarre deflection which bounced over Walker and into the back of the net.

Exeter, where despite the scoreline, we were the better team and having once again conceded an early goal we took the game to the Grecians and then paid the price second half with two late break away goals to condemn us to another defeat.

Accrington Stanley, where frankly we were woeful first half, conceded a smartly taken first goal (Billy Kee looks a good potential signing next season) then went two down and Stanley then had a defender sent off, which led to an Alamo siege second half and despite a penalty won by Wright and converted by Porter we failed to equalise.

Grimsby, where we conceded early, Fosu hit the post and we huffed and puffed in the second half we failed to muster a vital equaliser.

Finally, Crewe where the game was in doubt until 30 minutes from kick off and then Dagnall scored early after the U’s lost Sammy Szmodics with a broken leg, second half we worked hard but Dagnall managed a very late second after the referee incorrectly allowed play to continue when it should have been brought back for a U’s free kick.

The pattern here is clear, away from home we start poorly, concede and then if we don’t equalise quickly have to chase the game and leave gaps at the back which often leaves to a second or match clinching goal.

On Saturday, we play at Meadow Lane against a County team who are now safe from relegation and who under Kevin Nolan have started to put together a decent series of results. Leading the line are veteran strikers Shola Ameobi (35 years old) and evergreen Jon Stead (33). They also have former U’s favourite Elliott Hewitt in defence.

Now I have seen the warning signs this week (with some negative views) but before we begin to believe that the Magpies are invincible, let us consider that their home record is only 5 wins, 7 draws and 8 defeats with 20 goals scored and 26 conceded. This is hardly setting the league alight and should not prevent the U’s from securing the points at the weekend.

Not even the distraction of VIP Magpie fan Vicky McClure (star of the Replacement, Line of Duty and This is England) should interfere with the U’s march to victory.

As I have stated before, there is no point in bemoaning our luck about the injuries because we simply must wait for players to recover. In the meantime, we have welcomed Tom Eastman back from injury at a key time to aid the U’s promotion push. Owen Garvan is sadly not yet fit to return, but will be needed for the crucial last few games of the season.

Jermaine Grandison has left the club, having never kicked a ball for the first team and we should wish him well during the close season as he secures employment at another club.

JM may well decide on an unchanged squad this weekend. I trust that he however will not revert to a lone striker and instead play positively with impressive youngster Rekeil Pyke lining up alongside Chris Porter to lead the line.

Regarding substitutes, I would like to see Tommy O’Sullivan get some match minutes, clearly one for the future but he has been knocking on the door for first team football.

Sam Walker will record his 150th appearance for the U’s this weekend and would dearly love to manage another clean sheet to add to his 10 this season and to record his 40th league appearance of the season.

Therefore, the Super U’s could line up thus 3,4,1,2:

Walker

James Eastman Elokobi

Brindley Wright Lapslie Murray

Dickenson

Pyke Porter

Subs:

Brill Wynter Kinsella Briggs O’Sullivan Fosu Bonne

Now the big talking point amongst the U’s fans (of which there could be 300+ at Meadow Lane) will be how many minutes’ game time Macca Bonne will manage. Normally he gets a cameo role and Away from home JM will not play three up front, but I do hope that he receives the nod with at least 30 minutes to play. 5-10 minutes is woefully insufficient to influence a game and JM must be fair to the U’s youngster by giving him sufficient time.

Of course, if we take the game to County and score early (in the first half) then when he does appear, it should be to help secure the points rather than to desperately try and claw something back from a losing position.

Nottingham is 133 miles from my Durham home, whilst the faithful from Colchester will be travelling 145 miles. Will be meeting up with Gerry and hopefully also Wessex for lunch prior to the game.

Weather in Nottingham will be partly sunny and 13 degrees C, the pitch should be decent and the faithful will be in good voice.

I have a good feeling about this one, safe journeys and enjoy the game.

Up the Super U’s

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What a Circus!
at 18:16 26 Mar 2017

One of the officials in this evenings England Lithuania match is Fred Cano

Unbelievable but true

Up the U's
Prediction
Prediction Logged by at 21:40:25
Colchester United v Luton Town prediction logged
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Super U's to get ahead of the Hatters to secure derby double duel at WHCS
at 20:35 24 Mar 2017

This weekend, the WHCS, in common with all other weekend matches, will witness a minute’s silence to remember the victims of the atrocity that took place in Central London on Wednesday afternoon. Such senseless and mindless violence perpetrated against innocent people puts football well and truly into perspective.

JM and his charges embark upon 8 Cup finals between now and 6th May, knowing that 20 points will probably be required to secure 7th place and a Play Off berth.

The visitors are Luton Town, who are handily placed in 5th place on 60 points. Whereas JM has crushing injury concerns, Nathan Jones has top scorer Danny Hylton available after he was taken off on Tuesday evening after a draw at Rodney Parade in order to ensure his availability for the U’s game.

Sammy Szmodics was injured at Crewe last Saturday and sadly sustained a broken leg. He will again be sorely missed after his earlier season injury worries. It is not all bad news for JM however, Dean Brill, fresh from his Black Cats heroics for the U23’s is in the squad along with Tommy O’Sullivan our signing from Cardiff, who is likely to see some game time between now and the end of the season. Richard Brindley is also likely to play and probably start on Saturday.

Now the importance of this game cannot be overstated. The Super U’s simply must win, not only to maintain their excellent home form, but also to close the gap on the top seven. The Hatters were deservedly beaten on Boxing Day in a pulsating game and the U’s, without six of those players, will have to match their opponents whilst finding the back of the net which they failed to do at Gresty Road despite an encouraging second half.

Interestingly, when the two sides met on Boxing Day Luton Town were in 5th place with 35 points from 21 games, whilst the U’s were 13th with 27 points from 21 games.

The weather is set fair and the pitch will be in very good condition meaning that the U’s can play the ball on the deck and hopefully take the game to their opponents from the outset.

JM must decide on his formation and in my view, must attack with purpose in a 3,4,3 formation:

Walker

James Elokobi Briggs

Brindley Murray Lapslie Dickenson

Pyke Porter Bonne

Subs:

Brill Vincent-Young Wright Wynter Kinsella O’Sullivan Edge

Much has been made of Brennan Dickenson’s form, but Cameron James for me is absolute quality and must be well looked after by the club, he has the ability to become a top defender. Big George and Matt Briggs are playing very well; Briggs has been impressive since returning from injury.

Richard Brindley has been missed and will pick up where he left off prior to injury. Sean Murray, after an unfortunate and unlucky start at Blackpool is emerging as a cultured attacking midfield player.

Tom Lapslie, who excelled, when given the captaincy in Porter’s absence, is looking to recapture his best form; whilst Dickenson needs to convert more of his opportunities, and for their part, his striking colleagues need to convert more from the delicious left wing crosses that he provides.

The bench looks very striker unfriendly these days mainly due to injuries to Guthrie and Johnstone, but on Saturday, JM should play three up front from the start.

JM may demonstrate FOMO, but he must throw caution to the wind and attack the Hatters in an attempt to add to their excellent home record, whilst looking to close in on the top seven.

Saturday will see another crowd nudging the 6,000 mark and this time the faithful will be looking for three home points rather than giving the opposition the chance to spoil the party.

League placings show just how tight the positions are and confirm that a further 20 points will be sufficient for the U’s but they must secure three of them tomorrow.

Doncaster 38 78
Plymouth 38 72
Pompey 38 65
Stevenage 38 61
Luton 38 60
Carlisle 38 59
Exeter 38 58
Blackpool 38 57
Mansfield 38 55
Wycombe 38 55
COL U 38 54

Enjoy the game and remember if you want to get ahead, get a hat!

Up the Super U’s

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Oh Mr Porter what can I do, I wanted to go to Birmingham but here I am at Crewe!
at 01:23 20 Mar 2017

When the final whistle blew some 96 minutes into yet another Away defeat for the U’s, I waited until the faithful had traipsed out of their seats and sat in splendid isolation for 5 minutes pondering why our Away form is so wretched.

Forget about the injuries that argument doesn’t hold water, notwithstanding the fact that we are missing 13 players, there is sufficient talent within the squad (just) to have secured the points at Gresty Road.

Against the railwaymen, we were derailed by the journeyman striker Chris Dagnall who struck twice to give the hosts a victory. In fairness to Crewe they were determined and defended with considerable grit and a little good fortune. The stats indicate that possession was fairly even, but Crewe had 15 shots to our 12 and both teams mustered 6 each on target. Colchester though had 8 corners to Crewe’s 2.

The match though may not even have started with two pitch inspections at 1.30pm and 2.30pm with the Colchester supporters gathered outside the turnstiles, while Crewe support staff hastily positioned their gatekeepers to take our tickets from the 233 who had braved the elements. Now having finally gained entry I was staggered to find that not only was the pitch in virtually pristine condition with little evidence of surface water, save in the far corner in the lee of the main stand, but also the Holland’s meat and potato pie was done to a crisp, the content reasonable, the pastry inedible. This did not bode well.

I was pleased however to see that Rekeil Pyke was playing from the start in a line-up that was as follows:

Walker

Wright James Elokobi

Lapslie Murray Szmodics Briggs

Pyke Dickenson

Porter

Subs:

Edge Vincent-Young Barnes Kinsella Brindley Fosu Bonne

Now JM had described Pyke as the Beast during the week; I suspect that he must have confused the young energetic, tenacious, bustling striker with the Chairboys Akinfenwa, because Pyke looks to be a very capable and talented footballer and certainly not remotely like the character from Disney’s re-make of the classic Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve’s 18th Century fairy tale. (Don’t worry I had to look that up)

The 15-minute delay to the kick off had affected Colchester far more than their hosts and was reminiscent of the game at Home Park earlier in the season when after the Referee was poleaxed by the Plymouth striker, we were lackadaisical and gifted Plymouth their winner.

The faithful were in excellent voice throughout, (sadly there were some banal chants about Crewe’s much publicised off field serious problems) but that apart the support was first class.

On Saturday, the team started sluggishly and then lost Sammy Szmodics after he challenged Dagnall on the halfway line and stayed down. He was taken to Hospital and unfortunately it was later confirmed that he has broken his leg and is obviously out for the rest of the season. Get well soon Sammy. Fosu came on to replace him and was unlucky when volleying just wide mid-way through the half.

Dagnall glanced a header past Walker on 26 minutes following a free kick and it stayed that way until half time. Now some of the answers about away performance must have something to do with JM defensive approach. Porter was ploughing a lone furrow against 4 defenders who must have thought that their birthdays had come at once.

Pyke was playing in midfield, Dickenson had a quiet half (I’m sure that he has been unsettled again by talk of transfers), whilst young Cameron James was imperious in the heart of the defence.

At half time, there was no need to water the pitch but in fairness it had barely cut up and the quality of the surface was not in doubt. There was a very fine drizzle but nothing to really speak about.

Colchester came out with more intent after half time, but JM missed a trick by not immediately preparing Macca Bonne for action. During the interval, he had warmed up with the other subs but then took his seat after applying his shirt, shin pads and looked for the world as though he might get 45 minutes of football.

Nevertheless, the left side proved fertile attacking territory with Elokobi, Briggs and Dickenson combining well to present chances for Porter and Pyke. Pyke’s close range header should have brought the equaliser but Garratt in the Crewe goal saved well with his legs.

James was playing with a confidence that belied his years and one particular pass to the onrushing Fosu was measured and dissected the serried ranks of the Crewe defence. Had it been on MOTD, then they would still be replaying it now.

In some frustration, I shouted in the direction of JM and the bench to bring Bonne on and (even though I take no credit for the substitution) he duly appeared seconds later on the 69-minute mark. He should of course have been on at half time. Worse still he replaced the excellent Pyke who must have thought that he was very unlucky to leave the field.

We could have played Pyke, Porter and Bonne up front (after all we are trying to reach the playoffs) instead we simply pushed Bonne alongside Porter. The tiring Drey Wright was replaced by Richard Brindley on 76 mins but perhaps Edge would have a better and more attacking threat especially as Brindley didn’t seem fully fit.

Worse was still to come, Lapslie was fouled and the referee allowed the play to continue to see whether an advantage could be gained. It wasn’t and instead Crewe broke away only for Dagnall to cut the ball in from inside the six-yard box on 84 minutes. The game was up and even though the referee added on 5 minutes, it was insufficient to make up for the time wasting that the Crewe defence and goal keeper had mercilessly adopted throughout the second half.

The final whistle brought some muffled boos from some of the faithful, many gathered by the pitch side to shake hands with George but one “supporter” berated Porter who carried on an exchange with him, before big Sam ushered him away to the changing room.

In an attempt to answer my own question about our wretched away form I can only think that JM is too defensive minded, perhaps fearful of a drubbing, but when you consider that we have lost since the turn of the year to Accrington Stanley, Grimsby and now Crewe, (I’ve seen them all), unless action is taken to stem the tide, the play offs will become but a distant memory.

This weekend is the make or break game at home to Luton Town. Failure to win and I suspect that even the play offs will be a step too far this season.

There are now only eight left games to play; Luton (H), Notts Co (A), Stevenage (H), Doncaster (H), Morecambe (A), Plymouth (H), Orient (A) and Yeovil (H).

With 54 points on the board, we will probably require 21 more to sneak into that 7th position. There is no margin for error and we are now drinking at the last chance saloon.

The situation calls for the same run of results that we achieved from the end of November to early January.

Get behind the boys because this season is not over yet and every game now becomes a cup final.

Up the U’s

Prediction
Prediction Logged by at 21:07:27
Crewe Alexandra v Colchester United prediction logged
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Railwaymen hit the buffers against the Super U's to leave them up the Junction
at 21:06 17 Mar 2017

David Artell’s Crewe Alexandra provide the opposition for JM’s Super U’s at Gresty Road tomorrow.

Colchester partially recovered from their mauling at the hands of Pompey with a victory over Mansfield Town on Tuesday evening to keep them within touching distance of the play offs.

JM knows however that a place in the top seven can only be secured if our Away record can be improved upon. Four victories so far are a poor return and must be bettered and in truth with Crewe, Notts County, Morecambe and Orient to play away from the fortress, we should be looking to obtain another 9 points from these games.

The home games on paper are more challenging, but Luton, Stevenage, Doncaster, Plymouth and Yeovil will not be relishing a game at the WHCS and this must be very much to our advantage.

Owen Garvan is unlikely to return this weekend and so JM is likely to name an unchanged team for the Railwaymen. Thirteen first teamers out injured must be approaching a record, but in reality, only four are sorely missed from the current team, (Kent, Eastman, Guthrie and Slater) because the majority of those injured have been out for virtually the whole season.

Next season, it will seem like we have signed a new squad of players!!!

Crewe previously had the Indian sign over Colchester with an unbeaten record for over 20 years at Layer Road and the WHCS before their 4-0 defeat earlier in the season. Many years ago, I watched Colchester win 4-1 at Gresty Road with Perry Groves scoring a spectacular goal. Any win tomorrow would suffice, but with Goal Difference likely to play a part at the end of the season, I would welcome more goals in the For column in the League Two table.

Therefore:

Walker

James Elokobi Briggs

Wright Murray Lapslie Szmodics

Pyke Porter Dickenson

Subs:
Barnes, Vincent-Young, Wynter, Kinsella, Edge, Fosu, Bonne

The table currently looks like this:

Doncaster 37 75
Plymouth 37 69
Pompey 37 65
Carlisle 37 59
Luton 36 58
Stevenage 37 58
Exeter 37 57
Blackpool 37 54
COL U 37 54

Consistency is now required because every win is vital to hone in on those Play Off positions. What has been unhelpful this week is resurrecting the transfer rumour concerning Brennan Dickenson. It would also seem that JM has been pedalling the story. Yes, we all know that once a player emerges the sharks come circling and in this case, it is our Suffolk fiends who have been and still remain interested.

Dickenson is a quality player who will undoubtedly play at a higher level one day, but it does not need to be Ipswich, he can do a lot better. In the meantime, however the Academy system is producing some home-grown talent at Colchester.

None more so than the current U23’s who have defeated Sunderland this evening to reach the Quarter Finals of the Premier League Cup. Dean Brill also saved a last minute penalty. A superb achievement by the team and well deserved.

In the meantime, the First Team need to take a leaf out of their book and secure a win tomorrow at Crewe.

Safe journey to the travelling faithful.

Up the U’s

[Post edited 17 Mar 21:49]
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