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Orient head coach sacked
by Blue4U2 at 23:21 27 Feb 2021

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/56225981
According to the BBC Embleton was only a Head coach so does that mean Orient have the same setup as U's ?
Also they are heading for mid-table obscurity currently in 14th place
Makes a mockery of how long it took to remove Ball!?
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Happy League 2020/21 Week 26 (of 34) - Deadline Saturday 6th March 12.30
by mfb_cufc at 21:11 27 Feb 2021

Week 25 Results


LUTON TOWN 3 SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY 2

Luton came from 2-0 down to win it with an 86th minute winner. Nobody got this spot-on, but 20 had the outcome with 12 going for a 1-0 in what was the weeks most predicted score.

MIDDLESBROUGH 1 CARDIFF CITY 1
Middlesbrough ended Cardiff's run of successive wins, but they have still got 21 points from the last 9 games since Mick McCarthy took over as manager. Only 2 had this spot-on, and 2 also got the outcome.

CHARLTON ATHLETIC 0 BLACKPOOL 3
Charlton's home horrors in League One continued as they were comprehensively beaten by Blackpool and had two players sent off in the process. Nobody got this spot-on, though 9 did have the outcome.

SWINDON TOWN 2 NORTHAMPTON TOWN 1
Swindon came from behind to beat their fellow League 1 strugglers. A magnificent 7 had this spot-on, and a further 14 got the outcome.

MANSFIELD TOWN 1 MORECAMBE 0
This result also ended a run of three successive defeats and a five-match winless run for Mansfield. A sublime 5 got this spot-on, and another 4 had the outcome.

WALSALL 2 BRADFORD CITY 1
Bradford moved to within 4 points of the play-offs after their fourth straight victory. A sublime 5 had this spot-on, and a further9 got the outcome.

A further update to follow.

THE TABLES (202 out of 280 played)
(Tie-breaker: Most 3 pointers, and then the first to post)




Week 26 Fixtures 10 games picked by this weeks guest TheFatGooner. We have a tenuous link with these fixtures. The link is to do with the 2006/07 season.
Colchester drew 9 games that season they were to Luton, Leicester(x2), Norwich, Cardiff, Birmingham, Burnley, Coventry and Hull.
MK Dons knocked Colchester out of the Leaugue Cup.
Southend were relegated from the Championship that season.

BURNLEY v ARSENAL (12.30)
BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION v LEICESTER CITY (20.00)
BARNSLEY v BIRMINGHAM CITY
COVENTRY CITY v DERBY COUNTY
HUDDERSFIELD TOWN v CARDIFF CITY
NORWICH CITY v LUTON TOWN
HULL CITY v BRISTOL ROVERS
WIGAN ATHLETIC v MILTON KEYNES DONS
COLCHESTER UNITED v NEWPORT COUNTY
OLDHAM ATHLETIC v SOUTHEND UNITED

Good luck everybody.
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Letters from Wiltshire #35
by wessex_exile at 14:43 27 Feb 2021

As many were predicting, time finally ran out for Steve Ball mid-week, after the U’s lost 2-1 at home to Exeter City. Although a considerable improvement in score-line compared to the 6-1 thrashing they handed out at St James Park earlier in the season, apart from the first 10-15 minutes and very brief glimpses throughout the remainder of the game, it was a poor performance, leaving Robbie Cowling with no choice. After a brief interlude, Robbie named Wayne Brown as our new Interim Head Coach (that’s caretaker as far as I’m concerned), and after an even briefer interlude, Robbie and Wayne in a joint statement put to rest any lingering concerns about Wayne’s attitude to race. If Wayne can show the same sort of leadership on the training ground and in the dressing room as he used to show for the U’s on the pitch, I am certain he’s going to do very well in the job.

U’s Caretaker Managers
A performance review


To mark the occasion, Letters from Wiltshire #35 is another ‘special’, this time looking back at the record of our previous caretaker managers over the years, and specifically their first matches in the role. I won’t be doing an in-depth report of each match, there just isn’t the time (even with the 5.30pm kick-off), just a short summary accompanied by a bit of narrative about what was going on with the U’s at the time. To clarify, for the most part I am using the Wikipedia page for Colchester United caretaker managers and their performance record, with Graeson’s excellent ColUData website to fact-check where there appears to be inconsistencies.

So, without further ado, and from most recent backwards, here goes…

Steve Ball (W-0; D-0; L-1)

In charge: 4th – 8th May 2016
First game: U’s v Rochdale (08-05-16)
Sky Bet Football League Division 1 (Tier 3)
Attendance 3,435


We start back at the very end of 2015/16. The U’s were already relegated, and Rochdale out of the running for a play-off spot, so it was one of those pointless end-of-season occasions. The previous manager Kevin Keen had ‘left by mutual consent’ once relegation was confirmed, and David Wright was supposed to be caretaker for the last two matches. However, following a family bereavement, the role of caretaker for the very last game was handed to Steve Ball. Our new John McGreal had already been appointed, but he chose to take up the reins once the season had finished.

For a meaningless end-of-season fixture, and with the U’s already relegated, there was a surprisingly good crowd that afternoon, bolstered by a couple of hundred from Greater Manchester. Ball handed a debut to goalkeeping understudy James Bransgrove, after Dillon Barnes got stuck in traffic on the way to the match. Rochdale took the lead, after a neat one-two between Mendez-Laing and former U’s Ian Henderson saw Mandez-Laing slot home with ease. Shortly after half-time Joe Edwards levelled the score with a sweet strike, served up on a plate by Chris Porter. However, Rochdale restored their lead when Calvin Andrew curled in a lovely finish after some penalty area ping-pong.

Colchester United 1 (Joe Edwards 53’) Rochdale 2 (Nathaniel Mendez-Laing 18’; Calvin Andrew 69’)


David Wright (W-0; D-1; L-0)

In charge: 26th April – 4th May 2016
First game: Barnsley v U’s (30-04-16)
Sky Bet Football League Division 1 (Tier 3)
Attendance 12,021


Another caretaker manager for 2015/16, and this time David Wright. As noted above, Keen had left Colchester United on 26th April once relegation was confirmed, so David Wright took over for the next game – a very tough fixture away at play-off contenders Barnsley. It turned out to be a fantastically spirited performance, and maybe a few more like that might have seen us avoid relegation. In front od a huge home crowd (and a fair few from Essex), the U’s took the game to their high-flying opponents, and two minutes before half-time, Elliot Lee drove at the flat-footed Barnsley defence before squaring to Moncur, who finished superbly.

Barnsley came back at the U’s in the second half, and two goals from Fletcher, the second with just ten minutes to go, seemed to have wrapped things up for the Tykes. Our cause wasn’t helped by ‘keeper Elliott Parish being stretchered off injured in the 80th minute, and with all substitutes already used, Macauley Bonne of all people had to go in goal. However, no one had reckoned on the tenacious spirit of diminutive Tom Lapslie, who in the 8th minute of injury-time dived in to head home Joe Edwards’ cross for a deserved equaliser.

Barnsley 2 (Andrew Fletcher 57’, 80’) Colchester United 2 (George Moncur 42’; Tom Lapslie 90+8’)


Wayne Brown (W-1; D-0; L-2)

In charge: 2nd – 21st December 2015
First game: U’s v Altrincham (06-12-15)
FA Cup (Second Round)
Attendance 2,592


Yep, another from the 2015/16 season, and this time none other than our present incumbent Wayne Brown. Tony Humes had been sacked in November, and initially the caretaker role was given to Richard Hall and John McGreal as a sort of tag-team duo. However, Wikipedia goes with Richard Hall as nominally in charge, so I’ll go with that. There tenure didn’t go well, nor last long, so Wayne Brown was appointed in time for our FA Cup Second Round match against Altrincham.

It didn’t start well, with Altrincham going into a 3rd minute lead with an exquisite 30-yard lob from Jake Moult. However, deft footwork from Callum Harriott levelled the scores shortly after, catching the defence napping to slide his shot under ‘keeper Adam Griffin. Altrincham restored their lead literally straight after half-time, with big striker Michael Rankine finishing well after a bout of midfield head tennis – after just 18 seconds! Tom Lapslie pulled the U’s level less than ten minutes later, heading in an inch-perfect cross from Marvin Sordell. Despite conceding twice, Griffin was actually playing a blinder, keeping out numerous clear-cut chances, but he could do nothing about Harriott’s winner deep in injury-time, blasted in after leaving his marker for dead on the edge of the box.

Colchester United 3 (Callum Harriott 14’, 90+4’; Tom Lapslie 53’) Altrincham 2 (Jake Moult 3’; Michael Rankine 46’)


Richard Hall (W-0; D-0; L-1)

In charge: 26th November – 2nd December 2015
First game: Burton Albion v U’s (28-11-15)
Sky Bet Football League Division 1 (Tier 3)
Attendance 2,893


As above, Richard Hall was our previous caretaker manager once Humes had been sacked, technically alongside John McGreal, but as above I’ll stick with just Richard Hall for this one. On reflection, I’d rather it hadn’t been, because this was dreadful. It was, to be fair, a thoroughly demoralised squad, staring down the barrel of relegation, but in a season of many lows, this was right down there, away at promotion hopefuls Burton Albion

It started brightly, with that man Callum Harriott putting the U’s into an early lead with an excellent 25-yard drilled strike, beating Burton ‘keeper Jamie Jones at his far post. However, that was very much the high point that afternoon. El Khayati equalised for the Brewers midway through the first half, with Duffy making it 2-1 less than ten minutes later. Into the second half, and the U’s just fell apart, with goals from Naylor, Akins and Thiele emphasising just how porous our defence was, and how much trouble we were in.

Burton Albion 5 (Abdenasser El Khayati 25’; Mark Duffy 34’; Tom Naylor 51’; Lucas Akins 72’; Timmy Thiele 81’) Colchester United 1 (Callum Harriott 4’)


Joe Dunne (W-1; D-1; L-2)

In charge: 18th August – 1st September 2009
First game: U’s v Gillingham (18-08-09)
Coca-Cola Football League Division 1 (Tier 3)
Attendance 4,849


After a stunning opening fixture under then manager Paul Lambert, thrashing Norwich City 7-1 at Carrow Road, followed by shady shenanigans by the carrot-crunchers, Lambert cooked up a deal worthy of Delia and walked out on his contract with the U’s to take over at Carrow Road. Needless to say, Robbie hosed them for compensation, but this still left a managerial vacancy to fill. Step forward U’s legend Joe Dunne, who took over as caretaker in time for our third match of the season, at home to Gillingham.

Needless to say, the U’s were top of the league following the first two matches, and showed in in this game. Curtis Weston snatched an early lead for the Gills, but Scott Vernon soon levelled the score for the U’s, set up beautifully by Lisbie. Into the second half, and there was Vernon to return the complement, inviting Kevin Lisbie to drill home an impressive goal to make it 2-1 on the night, and consolidate the U’s position at the top of the table. Although a very bright start for Joey as caretaker, Robbie Cowling eventually decided on a more experienced manager, appointing Aidy Boothroyd at the start of September.

Colchester United 2 (Scott Vernon 38’; Kevin Lisbie 66’) Gillingham 1 (Curtis Weston 11’)


Kit Symons (W-2; D-0; L-3)

In charge: 22nd September – 9th October 2008
First game: Tranmere v U’s (26-09-08)
Coca-Cola Football League Division 1 (Tier 3)
Attendance 5,713


After a poor start to the season, our first following relegation from the Championship, incumbent manager Geraint Williams was struggling, with only one win from the first six league games. Robbie decided a change was needed, which personally at the time I thought was too hasty. However, dispensing with the services of George, Robbie appointed Kit Symons as caretaker manager, in time for a tricky mid-week visit to Prenton Park. It turned out to be an absolute thriller, with Symons immediately staking a strong claim for the permanent position.

The U’s got the ball rolling in the 4th minute, with slick one-touch passing from a Gerken roll-out cutting right through Tranmere, with Perkins on hand to finish superbly. Tranmere levelled soon after, a deep cross which Kay headed in past a stranded Gerken. Were we downhearted – were we heck as like. Three minutes later our lead was restored when Yeates curled in a superb 25-yard free-kick. Not to be outdone, with five minutes to go before half-time Clive Platt made it 3-1, expertly controlling a Yeates pass with his back to goal, before swivelling and blasting home.

Into the second half, and as if 3-1 wasn’t enough, Johnnie Jackson made it 4-1 straight after the break, blasting home a peach of a left foot shot from outside the box. Inevitably, with the U’s sitting back on their lead, Tranmere pressed forward relentlessly, but it took a Gerken howler, letting a speculative 35-yard effort squirm through his hands and into the net, to throw Tranmere a lifeline. They gratefully grasped it, with Shotton blasting home an absolute thunderbolt for their third – and this time there was nothing that Gerken could do. However, we tightened up defence and stifled any further chance of Tranmere getting an equaliser. Although Kit Symons went on to win another of his five matches as caretaker, Paul Lambert was eventually appointed as full-time manager…and we all know how that worked out.

Tranmere 3 (Anthony Kay 12’; Andy Taylor 76’; Ryan Shotton 78’) Colchester United 4 (David Perkins 4’; Mark Yeates 15’; Clive Platt 40’; Johnnie Jackson 47’)


Geraint Williams (W-2; D-3; L-0)

In charge: 29th January – 25th February 2003
First game: Stockport County v U’s (01-02-03)
Nationwide Football League Division 1 (Tier 3)
Attendance 4,011


After a difficult start to the season, which left the club in the relegation zone by January, chairman Peter Heard, with some regrets for his long-serving friend, decided he’d seen enough and had to let manager Steve Whitton go. Whilst looking for a replacement, Geriant Williams, Whitton’s assistant, was appointed as caretaker. He did a damn fine job of it too, starting with a trip to Stockport, lower mid-table at the time. It was a solid performance from the U’s too, so when Luke Beckett shot the Hatters into the lead in the 34th minute, it was definitely against the run of play. Try as the U’s might, Stockport’s deep defence looked like it was going to hold out to preserve a much-needed 3 points for the Hatters, until that is Joe Keith fired home a richly-deserved equaliser with just two minutes to go.

George would go on to oversee three victories and another draw to finish his caretaker term undefeated, one of the best records for a caretaker in the history of the U’s. However, the die had been cast, and an unknown former player from Reading Football Club, Philip Parkinson, was appointed manager – and the rest is history.

Stockport 1 (Luke Beckett 36’) Colchester United 1 (Joe Keith 88’)


Steve Whitton (W-0; D-1; L-0)

In charge: 21st January – 28th February 1999
First game: U’s v Stoke City (23-01-99)
Nationwide Football League Division 1 (Tier 3)
Attendance 12,507


Our first season back in the third tier of the Football League, following the play-off victory over Torquay. After a fairly decent start to the season, the manager who had guided us to that promotion, decided unexpectedly that had taken the U’s as far as he could, and stood down. Whilst Peter Heard looked around for a replacement, Steve Whitton was given caretaker control, for just one match as it would happen, away at high-flying Stoke City.

In a thrilling end-to-end match, the U’s took the lead in the 9th minute through Simon Betts. An unfortunate David Gregory own goal got the Potters back into it, an opportunity they took full advantage of scoring two more before half-time to make it 3-1. However, right on the half-time whistle, David Gregory made amends for the OG with another at the right end to make it 3-2. The second half was hard work against a well-organised Stoke City defence, and always carrying considerable threat up front, but with ten minutes to go Jason Dozzell grabbed the equaliser, and a very commendable first point for Steve Whitton’s side.

In a rare error of judgement, Peter Heard unfortunately decided to appoint external Mick Wadsworth to the managerial position instead of Whitton, though Steve would get his chance later the same year when Wadsworth walked out.

Stoke City 3 (David Gregory OG 30’; Kyle Lightbourne 34’; Larius Sigurdsson 42’) Colchester United 3 (Simon Betts 9’; David Gregory 44’; Jason Dozzell 80’)


Dale Roberts (W-1; D-1; L-3)

In charge: 24th December 1994 – 12th January 1995
First game: U’s v Northampton Town (26-12-94)
Endsleigh League Division 3 (Tier 4)
Attendance 5,064


Our third season back in the Football League after the Conference promotion, and we were going well under manager George Burley…and then, out of the blue (no pun intended), Burley walked out on the U’s to take up the manager position at Ipswich Town. Burley had rescued the U’s from a poor start, and as Christmas approached we were in the play-offs. Few will forgive Burley for his treachery, but it fell on Dale Roberts as caretaker to pick up the pieces.

His first game was Boxing Day against near-neighbours Northampton Town, at the time struggling in lower mid-table. However, clearly unsettled by Burley’s departure, and in front of a bumper 5k crowd at Layer Road, the U’s slipped up, losing 1-0 to a Darren Harmon first half penalty. Although Roberts guided to the U’s to a win in his second game, away at promotion hopefuls Fulham, and drew two of the next three, it wasn’t enough to convince chairman Gordon Parker, who appointed Steve Wignall as manager. Tragically, Dale died of cancer in 2003, aged just 46.

Colchester United 0 Northampton Town 1 (Darren Harmon 35’p)


Steve Foley (W-2; D-0; L-1)

In charge: 20th December 1989 – 2nd January 1990
First game: Southend United v U’s (26-12-89)
Fourth Division (Tier 4)
Attendance 5,563


This was a very difficult season for the U’s, always struggling at the wrong end of the table. Despite that, chairman Jonathan Crisp may well have stood by manager Jock Wallace, who had saved us from relegation the previous season, but Wallace had to stand down because of ill health. Whilst Crisp looked for a replacement, Steve Foley stepped forward for his second spell as caretaker, and what a way to start, away at Southend, challenging for promotion into the Third Division.

This was one match I was definitely at, and belying our low-lying position, took the game to Southend United throughout. It was no more than we deserved when Martin Grainger and then Tommy English scored in rapid succession in the middle of the second half to give us a well-deserved and most-welcome 2-0 victory at our Essex rivals. Foley’s team would go on to secure another victory on New Years’ Day, 3-1 at home to Hartlepool, but the full-time position went to Ipswich legend Mick Mills. Despite Steve Foley’s efforts, who holds the record for points per game for a caretaker manager, the U’s were relegated to the Conference, and Southend were indeed promoted to the Third Division.

Southend United 0 Colchester United 2 (Martin Grainger 65’; Tommy English 69’)


Steve Foley (W-8; D-5; L-9)

In charge: 21st October 1988 – 12th January 1989
First game: U’s v Cambridge United (21-10-88)
Fourth Division (Tier 4)
Attendance 2,138


Unofficially, Steve Foley’s first spell in charge as caretaker manager at Colchester United commenced pretty much on the final whistle of our infamous 0-8 defeat at Leyton Orient, replacing the inept Roger Brown, but officially he wasn’t in place until the following Friday night fixture at home to Cambridge United. It is a lasting urban myth that the U’s threw that Orient game deliberately to have Brown sacked, but I have no idea whether there’s any truth in that or not? The U’s were needless to say struggling at the wrong end of the table, whereas Cambridge were in the hunt for promotion.

After a tense goalless first half, Cambridge United finally broke the deadlock midway through the second half, with a goal from Anderson, who added a second with just over ten minutes to go. Although Tony English grabbed one back with a couple of minutes to go, it wasn’t enough and t’other U’s returned to the Abbey with the win. Although a disappointing start, Foley would go on to preside as caretaker manager over another 21 matches in all competitions, with a fairly impressive overall record of 8 wins, 5 draws and 9 defeats (impressive in that we were a poor team at the wrong end of the table at the time).

As Christmas approached, Crisp persuaded the legendary Jock Wallace out of retirement, with Alan Ball as assistant alongside. The effect was instantaneous, and Wallace steered the U’s clear of relegation.

Colchester United 1 (Tony English 88’) Cambridge United 2 (Doug Anderson 65’, 79’)


Dennis Mochan (W-1; D-4; L-6)

In charge: 8th September – 1st October 1972
First game: U’s v Crewe Alexandra (08-09-72)
Fourth Division (Tier 4)
Attendance 2,767


This is one of the more controversial and dare I say unsavoury moments in the history of Colchester United, involving our then manager and U’s legend Dick Graham. At a tense shareholders annual general meeting held in September, Graham found himself facing significant criticism from shareholders, and particularly a personal attack from police sergeant Alan Frost (who ironically had won his five shares in a raffle). Dick Graham was both incensed and shattered, coming so soon after the Leeds victory, and indeed our subsequent Watney Cup triumph, and walked out with immediate effect. While the club worked hard to try and persuade Graham to change his mind, Dennis Mochan was installed as caretaker.

He certainly didn’t do his cause for consideration any harm, immediately turning around a fairly poor start to the season with a thumping 5-1 victory over Crewe Alexandra, with goals from Dave Simmons (a hat-trick), Mick Mahon and John McLaughlin. Although emphatic, it would turn out to be his only victory whilst in charge, and having failed to persuade Dick Graham to change his mind, chairman Roy Chapman appointed ‘Bald Eagle’ Jim Smith as manager of Colchester United.

Colchester United 5 (Dave Simmons 8’, 58’, 71’; Mick Mahon 55’; John McLaughlin 88’) Crewe Alexandra 1 (Terry Nicholl 66’)

…and finally
So what does this all tell us? To date, Colchester United caretaker managers have never go on to be appointed as the full-time manager straight away. Steve Whitton, George Williams, Joe Dunne and Steve Ball have done so eventually, just not promoted direct from a caretaker role.

Out of twelve debut matches for caretaker managers, the overall record is fairly even, with five victories (Dennis Mochan, Steve Foley’s 2nd spell, Kit Symons, Joe Dunne and Wayne Brown), three draws (Steve Whitton, Geraint Williams and David Wright) and four defeats (Steve Foley’s 1st spell, Dale Roberts, Richard Hall and Steve Ball).

Does this bode well for Wayne Brown and the U’s this evening? I certainly hope so…

Up the U’s
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The two Browns to be the architects of a Super U's victory!
by durham_exile at 11:15 27 Feb 2021

A new start with the arrival of Wayne Brown, albeit on a temporary basis and with baggage that unfortunately has been raked over the coals in the past two days which has deflected attention from the playing squad.

Let us set that aside and concentrate on the issue, that of survival. Now all the modelling of what might be, and form tables is meaningless, it is solely down to what Colchester achieves over the final 17 games. Realistically we need 20 more points to survive for another season. What a sad indictment on what has been the most wretched of seasons.

Forget about the humiliation against Marine and the performance at Exeter, the game that really hurt was the embarrassment against Southend, when we were simply appalling.

Table:
20 Stevenage 31 34 -7
21 COL U 29 33 -8
22 Southend 30 27 -25
23 Barrow 28 26 -6
24 Grimsby 28 24 -25

Grim reading, but what do they say, the table never lies.

Anyway, it starts today a 17-game season and Wayne Brown as Caretaker Head Coach takes his charges to the New Lawn at 1730hrs to do battle against FGR who surprisingly lost to someone in midweek.

Forget about their green credentials, the coffee shirts, the recycled water, and the vegan burgers, it is all about three points for the Super U’s at the 14th time of asking.

Now Wayne Brown is starting with a clean slate and looking to bring some players back into the squad that SB had either fallen out with or ignored.

Gerken
George
Coulter

Welch-Hayes
Doherty
Smith
Sowunmi
Eastman
Clampin
Tchamadeu
Sayer

Wiredu
Lapslie
Senior
Pell
Harriott
Cowan-Hall
Chilvers
Poku
Stevenson
Marshall Miranda
Cracknell

Oteh
Brown
Folivi
Nouble
Bohui
Tovide

Wayne Brown is already familiar with the squad and will have his own ideas to reinvigorate the team.

Well let us see:

Gerken

Welch-Hayes Eastman Smith Doherty

Stevenson Lapslie Wiredu

Harriott Brown Nouble

Subs:

George Sowunmi Tchamadeu Cowan-Hall Poku Oteh Folivi

Regarding fitness the following are probably doubtful; Pell and Clampin

Paris Cowan-Hall has not been given a chance, yes injury has been his nemesis but that is equally true of Harry Pell.

What Brown will be looking for is a degree of continuity, we have played different formations, different teams and SB had his favourites much to my chagrin.

The press unhelpfully are already talking about a permanent replacement but let us give Brown the opportunity to initially get that first victory and then to build over the remaining games to get those 20 points.

Weather in Nailsworth will be 8 degrees at kick-off, dry after some late afternoon sunshine.

A day to get behind the team, a day to forget about the recent troubles and a day to be optimistic and look to the future.

14th time of asking can we do it yes, we can. Perhaps 2-1. A rare double in a season of disappointment.

Enjoy the game.

Do not forget KO at 1730hrs

Up the U's


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Reasons to not be cheerful
by RSCOSWORTH at 22:04 26 Feb 2021

On the 11th of December we were 6th in the League Two table on 27 points, only two points behind Forest Green in 3rd and nine points behind the table toppers at the time Newport County. Fast forward 13 winless matches for the U's and we now find ourselves in 21st position and just seven points ahead of Barrow in 23rd who have a game in hand.

The form table since the 11th of December is as follows:

Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts Ave Pts
1 Bradford City 13 8 3 2 18 11 7 27 2.08
2 Morecambe 14 8 3 3 22 14 8 27 1.93
3 Cambridge United 16 8 3 5 20 16 4 27 1.69
4 Tranmere Rovers 13 7 3 3 21 18 3 24 1.85
5 Forest Green Rovers 13 6 4 3 19 15 4 22 1.69
6 Bolton Wanderers 14 6 4 4 18 16 2 22 1.57
7 Stevenage 15 5 6 4 13 15 -2 21 1.40
8 Southend United 15 6 3 6 15 17 -2 21 1.40
9 Salford City 14 5 5 4 16 12 4 20 1.43
10 Harrogate Town 14 6 2 6 17 17 0 20 1.43
11 Exeter City 12 5 4 3 18 12 6 19 1.58
12 Mansfield Town 13 5 4 4 20 18 2 19 1.46
13 Crawley Town 12 5 3 4 15 15 0 18 1.50
14 Cheltenham Town 13 4 6 3 9 10 -1 18 1.38
15 Scunthorpe United 13 6 0 7 16 15 1 18 1.38
16 Walsall 13 4 4 5 18 20 -2 16 1.23
17 Leyton Orient 13 4 3 6 11 12 -1 15 1.15
18 Oldham Athletic 13 4 3 6 23 24 -1 15 1.15
19 Carlisle United 10 4 2 4 15 11 4 14 1.40
20 Barrow 12 4 1 7 13 15 -2 13 1.08
21 Port Vale 14 2 6 6 17 23 -6 12 0.86
22 Newport County 13 2 5 6 12 18 -6 11 0.85
23 Grimsby Town 13 2 3 8 9 21 -12 9 0.69
24 Colchester United 13 0 6 7 7 17 -10 6 0.46

Just the six points from the 13 matches, the worst in the division behind Grimsby and the league leaders back in December, Newport County.

If the form since the 11th of December was repeated across the division the final table would look as follows:

Pos Team Total Pts
1 Morecambe 80
2 Forest Green Rovers 80
3 Tranmere Rovers 79
4 Bradford City 77
5 Cambridge United 77
6 Exeter City 75
7 Cheltenham Town 74
8 Carlisle United 71
9 Salford City 69
10 Bolton Wanderers 69
11 Crawley Town 65
12 Harrogate Town 62
13 Newport County 61
14 Scunthorpe United 60
15 Mansfield Town 59
16 Leyton Orient 59
17 Walsall 58
18 Stevenage 55
19 Oldham Athletic 55
20 Southend United 49
21 Port Vale 48
22 Barrow 46
23 Colchester United 41
24 Grimsby Town 36

It makes for surprising reading in places with obviously the most disappointing part being Col U finishing 23rd and in a relegation spot. Personally I don't think that will happen, I just can't see us being that bad over the next 17 matches but that wasn't a chance Robbie was prepared to take as he replaced Ball as first team coach with Brown. I feel sorry for Steve Ball, I really do, but ultimately the results and performances weren't good enough and something had to give. Wayne Brown was absolutely immense during our promotion season, and whilst he wouldn't have been my first choice, at least he has an affinity with the club and the fans and has even worked with some of the playing staff in the past. I really, really hope he can get the players back to performing as they should and I'm sure the results will follow. Put a winning run toegther and we could be talking about the Play Offs come the beginning of April...but let's start by winning one game first.

Up the U's!
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Dump ton
by bwildered at 20:31 25 Feb 2021

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Nerve-wracking!
by pwrightsknees at 12:56 25 Feb 2021

What's more nerve-wracking - watching the U's or watching the England batsmen in India?
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FGR -Sat .
by bwildered at 12:22 24 Feb 2021

Forest Green Rovers have put a new spin on grinding out a result by launching a new shirt partly made of coffee waste.

The shirts, which the club says are a football first, will be worn by players when they face Colchester on Saturday and will be available next season.

Players already wear shirts made of bamboo, but owner Dale Vince says using leftover coffee grounds makes them more eco-friendly and lighter to wear.If
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Wayne Brown it is
by RSCOSWORTH at 11:09 24 Feb 2021

https://www.cu-fc.com/news/2021/february/club-update/
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Ball gone
by gsy163 at 22:31 23 Feb 2021

Issued 10.25
Colchester United can confirm that Steve Ball has left his role as U's Head Coach.

Owner and Chairman Robbie Cowling said: "Following the game tonight and a discussion I had with Steve, it was decided that the best way forward was for him to leave his position as Head Coach."

"Steve has been with the club in different capacities for a long time and I would like it placed on record our thanks to him for his hard work and dedication."

"The club will make no further comment at this time."
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Letters from Wiltshire #34
by wessex_exile at 18:44 23 Feb 2021

I won’t dwell on Robbie’s latest message to the supporters – we’ve all read it, and we’ve all probably drawn our own conclusions about what it doesn’t say as much as what it does. To me, bottom line, I suspect the clock is now ticking for Steve Ball (at least), turn around this terrible form pretty damn quick, or start clearing out your locker. Regardless of personal opinions on any of the individuals concerned, I would like to think none of us actually wants to see people made redundant in the current climate. But, these are difficult times that require tough decisions. If Steve Ball is up to the job and can turn this around, I’ll be more than happy to support him. If he’s not, he has to go before irreparable harm is done…and we all know what that will look like, we’ve been there before…

York City v Colchester United
Tuesday 27th November 2001
FA Cup (1st Round replay)
Attendance 2,888




Letters from Wiltshire #34 goes right back to 2001, and our first round replay against York City in the FA Cup. My apologies in advance, with this evening’s 7pm kick-off approaching fast, and such a crucial game for the U’s as well, this blog is going to be perhaps shorter than usual.

In the context of where we are, and the potential fate that befalls us if we don’t start pulling some results together, having the random match selector choose York City as the opponent is a sobering reminder. In the 4th Division at the time of this replay, York City did of course slip out of the Football League in 2004. It took until 2012 for them to finally get back into the Football League, only to be relegated again four years later, and a year after that relegated to National League North for the first time in their history (though they did win the FA Trophy in the process).

How come?
How come I was there, not how come York City are now in Tier 6. Well, first and foremost, I was there because the U’s failed to beat the Minstermen in the original FA Cup 1st Round match at Layer Road ten days earlier, drawing 0-0 in front of 3,350. We were a league above York at the time, so although we’ve experienced far worse in our time (let’s not forget the 1st round 5-1 exit at Yeovil the previous season for instance), another cup upset in the replay was therefore on the cards.

The other reason I was there was work-related – we’d been working on a major road scheme in the Midlands at the time, so when the need for a post-fieldwork on-site progress meeting was called for, it was an easy matter to look in my diary and casually suggest Tuesday 27th fitted well. From there, it was an even easier detour on a post-meeting cold and occasionally wet November evening to watch and see if the U’s could get through to the 2nd Round (for a home tie against Reading, riding high in our league).

I drove over after work, and parked up on one of the local neighbourhood streets around Bootham Crescent, where York City still plied their trade. No doubt as a result of financial difficulties, York City had ceased owning the ground a couple of years earlier, when it was transferred to holding company Bootham Crescent Holdings. It was announced at the time the ground would close and York move to a new stadium in June 2002, but at the time of my visit, there was still no sign of this fabled new ground. This was my first (and last) visit to Bootham Crescent; it was a nice little ground, even if (as usual) us away fans were housed on the shallow open terrace – much like tonight’s opponents Exeter’s old St James Park away terrace before they swapped it for the bouncy-bouncy stand.

Where we were
The U’s were doing okay in the league, had spent the first couple of months in the promotion and play-off places, and although we’d slipped a bit, were still healthily placed for a renewed promotion challenge. Just a week earlier I’d been one of the 53 to witness a valiant point rescued at Ninian Park, following an 87th minute equaliser from Joey Dunne (which would turn out to be his last goal for the club). York were having a harder season in the basement, only six points and five places off the bottom and the trapdoor that awaited.

Steve Whitton’s U’s lined up as follows:

29..Andy Woodman
3….Joe Keith (Dean Morgan 45’)
4….Gavin Johnson
5….Ross Johnson
12..Scott Fitzgerald
20..Micky Stockwell (Lloyd Opara 96’)
17..Bobby Bowry
15..Thomas Pinault
7….Karl Duguid
22..Kevin Rapley (Alan White 72’)
9….Scott McGleish

Steve Whitton was in charge at Layer Road, and had been since the departure of Mick Wadsworth two years earlier. York were managed at the time by Terry Dolan, who I knew very well from his time managing Bradford City whilst I lived in West Yorkshire during the 80s. None of the York City players ring any particular bells with me – Alan Fettis in goal is a name I think I ought to know, and maybe Lee Nogan and Michael Porctor up front? If I had more time I’d do a bit more research – maybe another day?

The match
There was a small but reasonably vociferous gang of U’s fans on the open terrace that night, probably no more than maybe 100-150 at the most, but considerably more than had been at Ninaian Park a week earlier. We were rewarded with a fairly strong line-up as well – for the most part full strength, just with the one significant change of Andy Woodman in goal in place of regular Simon Brown – though to be fair, Woodman was also ‘keeper for the original fixture at Layer Road.

The U’s started brightly, and it only seemed like a matter of time that we’d take the lead, so imagine our surprise when Chris Brass did exactly that for York City in just the 8th minute. It was against the run of play, but following a needless foul by Bowry on the edge of the box, York City played head tennis in our box from the free-kick, with Brass heading home powerfully his chance.

From there through to half-time, and playing towards the far end in the first half, it was difficult to see quite how close we were getting, but most of the action was definitely in and around the York City box for the first half, but with nothing to show for it at half-time. The York Press described it as ‘laying siege’ and so it was – an endless succession of corners, blocked efforts, sublime stops from Fettis, York City throwing everything on the line and holding out.

Into the second half, and more, so much more of the same. Virtual one-way traffic from the U’s, bearing down on the goal right in front of us, with us merry band of frozen supporters just roaring and roaring them on. Dean Morgan, coming on for Joe Keith at half-time, somehow managed to get his feet in a twist when it looked easier to score a virtual open goal – Fettis superbly palmed out a Micky Stockwell thunderous volley, with Brass sliding in to deny McGleish a certain equaliser from the rebound.

Finally, eventually, and with less than ten minutes to go, we got the equaliser we richly deserved. Alan White swung in an inch-perfect free-kick, and up rose spring-heeled McGleish to head in the equaliser in front of a demented away terrace. Everyone then checking watches now – did we have enough time for a second, York City supporters wondering if there was enough time (and momentum) to regain the lead, and probably everyone wondering on a very cold evening if there was going to be extra-time and penalties (brrrr).

To their credit, under the cosh for most of the game, it was York City who responded to the challenge first, and within three minutes they had unbelievably restored their lead. Proctor hammered an effort narrowly wide as a taster, before Cooper passed wide to Darren Edmondson, who just set off on a bee-line straight to Andy Woodman, with defenders closing to intercept, Edmondson unselfishly squared right into the path of Graham Potter, who made no mistake from there. Talk about having the guts ripped out of you, but even then the U’s didn’t give up, and back they came, this time without a doubt against a ten-man York City defence.

With seconds of normal time to go, a frantic goalmouth scramble say the ball rebound out to Kark Duguid, who calmly slammed home the equaliser, before virtually joining us on the away terrace in celebration. And still we weren’t done – in the 6th minute of extra-time, a crisp shot from Morgan was parried by Fettis, and there was Opara (who’d only be on a second or two) to slot home the rebound. It was one of those awful moments when some of the supporters simply couldn’t stop celebrating long enough to notice the linesman’s offside flag.

And that was that, no further goals in extra-time, and so to penalties…

The penalties were taken at the far end in front of the home support, and it was a long time ago, so please don’t ask me to remember the sequence of them. In short, we came to the last kick of the match, and it was Karl Duguid against Alan Fettis, with Doogie needing to score to keep us in the tie. It was a good spot-kick from my vantage point, to the ‘keeper’s side, low and hard, but Fettis chose the right direction, dived well, and pulled off an exceptional save to knock the U’s out of the cup.

York City 2 (Chris Brass 8’; Graham Porter 84’) Colchester United 2 (Scott McGleish 81’; Karl Duguid 90’)
3-2 on penalties aet


I will finish as I witnessed the match finishing – as everyone around the ground was ecstatically celebrating, supporters on the pitch, players hugging each other, with a dignity that did him so much credit, Karl Duguid calmly walked up to Alan Fettis and shook him warmly by the hand, in celebration of a job very well done on the night.

Though I haven’t got a copy these days, I remember an excellent report written in one of the broadsheets the following morning – I think it was the Telegraph, which gave a very balanced account of the match, and including focusing on Doogie’s dignity and professionalism in defeat. We might have gone out of the FA Cup, but it made me proud to read the report.

York would go on to defeat Reading in the 2nd round, and indeed Grimsby Town (after another replay) in the 3rd round, and would eventual fall against Fulham in the 4th round, but I have no doubt the cup revenue helped them enormously.

Up the U’s
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Grecians in for hair raising experience at the JSCS
by durham_exile at 14:59 23 Feb 2021

Today is 23rd February 2021 and we find ourselves 20th in League Two.

On Saturday 7 March 2020 we won 3-0 at Carlisle (JM’s 200th game in charge of Colchester) before the shutters came down on the league season and that ensured we qualified for the play offs. On Tuesday 18 June we played Exeter City in the Semi-Final 1st Leg of the League Two play offs and won 1-0. The rest as they say is history or more properly a Stephen King horror story.

We bounced around the top seven for a while this season and last won a game of football on Tuesday 8 December 2020. Since then, we have gone 12 games without a victory. The result is we are now in a relegation battle. Will it be lucky 13 tonight?

Mansfield 28 34 -2
PV 29 33 -3
COL U 28 33 -7
Stevenage 30 33 -7
Southend 29 24 -27
Barrow 27 23 -7
Grimsby 27 21 -26

Along with others I have called for SB to go. He simply is not a manager/ head coach, and he seems clueless about what is his best team, tactics to employ and how to get the best out of his players.

Let us look at our last game at Crawley:

He started:

Gerken
Welch-Hayes Sowunmi Eastman Smith
Pell Stevenson
Harriott Poku Nouble
Oteh

Subs:
Chilvers
Wiredu
Folivi
Brown
Senior
George
Tchamadeu

Pell was injured (again) on 32 minutes and Wiredu replaced him.
Chilvers replaced Poku on 67 mins and Brown replaced Oteh on 67 mins
Finally, Folivi replaced Harriott on 89 mins.

And this is SB’s problem, he does not play a settled team, he changes the line up every game, he refuses to play more than one striker and he has ruined our best striker Jevani Brown by leaving him as the lone striker and then dropping him and publicly stating he has to show more application no wonder Brown is pi**ed off.

We have two left backs in Clampin and Doherty; we were told a fully fit squad so why did they not feature on Saturday. Playing three Central Defenders at the back in a four is disjointed, SB has tried three at the back before and it did not work, he has tried 5 at the back and it was disastrous.

Play a flat back four and three in midfield and three up front. Be bold and constructive and take the game to the opposition.

Once again, I suggest tonight and for the foreseeable future 4,3,3:

Gerken

Welch-Hayes Eastman Smith Clampin

Lapslie Stevenson Wiredu

Harriott Brown Nouble

Subs:

George Sowunmi Chilvers Oteh Folivi Tovide Poku

Pell is injured, we do not know about Cowan-Hall and Senior must stay on the bench. When Pell is fit he can play alongside Ben Stevenson.

We have 18 games to garner 20 points for survival.

It is all about survival now. Relegation is unthinkable. SB’s job is safer than Klopp’s regrettable but true.

Survival will be good enough after such a shocking year. I would imagine that JM will be smiling. What did he do wrong, perhaps he spoke out about losing five key players? What the Chairman must do is stop internal appointments. Whether people like the situation or not Parky must be invited to return and he might if we survive. He knows about promotion and can get this team back to League One.

I have not even mentioned Exeter City yet. The result at St James’ Park was a disaster and they have the Indian sign over us at present. Matt Taylor plays a simple game always 3,5,2 and it is effective.

But tonight, they have no Ryan Bowman (our nemesis) who was dismissed at Newport together with Alex Hartridge, the nine men managed to grind out a 1-1- draw. It is that type of application and effort that we must start to show before it is too late.

The weather tonight in Colchester will be dry, mostly clear and 11 degrees c. Ideal for the match.

Can we achieve that elusive win? Yes, I believe so. Can we manage a clean sheet, yes, we can but only if we play the game in their half? Sitting back and encouraging the opposition on is not the answer.

Try and enjoy the game.

2-0 Colchester

Up the U’s

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Local striker missed
by Blue4U2 at 20:50 22 Feb 2021

https://www.gazette-news.co.uk/sport/19107599.ex-stanway-rovers-striker-mike-fon
How did we let this one slip away?

Up the "goal challenged" U's
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The Chairman's latest missive
by durham_exile at 14:36 22 Feb 2021

https://www.cu-fc.com/news/2021/february/robbie-statement/

I have to say I'm getting rather blase about these statements. We are now firmly involved in a relegation scrap and the only priority is to avoid the unthinkable.

Humes and Ball out.

Up the U's

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Happy League 2020/21 Week 25 (of 34) - Deadline Saturday 27th February 15.00
by mfb_cufc at 23:08 20 Feb 2021

Week 24 results

BURNLEY 0 WEST BROMWICH ALBION 0

Burnley fail to beat 10-man West Brom. The last two occasions West Brom have received a red card and avoided defeat in a Premier League game have both been against Burnley. Nobody got this spot-on, and only Blue4U2 and Tropical_Us had the outcome

LIVERPOOL 0 EVERTON 2
Everton earned their first derby win anywhere since 2010, and their first win at Anfield since 1999. Liverpool have now lost four successive home matches for the first time since 1923. Again nobody had this spot-on, and just concordman and Pinault_Noir got the outcome.

FULHAM 1 SHEFFIELD UNITED 0
Ademola Lookman's goal boosted Fulham's hopes of Premier League survival. They remain 18th but have cut a 10-point gap to Newcastle in 17th, to just three points inside a week. A massive 10 got this spot-on, and a further 8 had the outcome.

COVENTRY CITY 2 BRENTFORD 0
Coventry ended a five-game winless run, as this loss means Brentford, who had gone 21 games without defeat, have now lost three times in six days. No points for anybody from this game, as 25 predicted a win for Brentford, and the other one predicted a draw.

MILLWALL 0 WYCOMBE WANDERERS 0
Draw specialists Millwall extended their unbeaten run to eight Championship matches after being forced to settle for a point against league 1 bound Wycombe. Well done to Pinault_Noir for being the only one to get this spot-on, and nobody had the outcome. 25 predicted a win for Millwall with 13 going for a 2-0 in what was the weeks most predicted score.

NOTTINGHAM FOREST 1 BLACKBURN ROVERS 0
Brice Samba made a superb penalty save from Blackburn's Adam Armstrong to ensure Alex Mighten's first-half strike was enough to earn Forest victory. A sublime 5 had this spot-on, and another 10 got the outcome.

QUEENS PARK RANGERS 2 AFC BOURNEMOUTH 1
Todd Kane snatched a late winner as QPR clinched their fourth consecutive Championship victory. Well done to Blue4U2 for being the only one to get this spot-on, and 3 more had the outcome. 20 predicted a win for Bournemouth.

BURTON ALBION 0 SUNDERLAND 3
Sunderland moved back into the League One play-off places with a crushing win over 10-man Burton. 4 had this spot-on, and a further 17 got the outcome.

GILLINGHAM 2 BRISTOL ROVERS 0
John Akinde scored twice and also missed a penalty in Gillingham's hard-fought victory, as Rovers suffered their first defeat under interim manager Tommy Widdrington. 3 got this spot-on, and another 17 had the outcome.

IPSWICH TOWN 0 OXFORD UNITED 0
Ipswich and Oxford fought out a bore draw but the home side will be frustrated that they failed to convert some gilt-edged chances. Nobody had this spot-on, but 5 did get the outcome.

MILTON KEYNES DONS 4 NORTHAMPTON TOWN 3
MK get an 88th minute winner, as they twice came from behind in this 7 goal thriller. Not a surprise there was no 3 pointer, though 19 did have the outcome.

WIGAN ATHLETIC 1 LINCOLN CITY 2
Lincoln cemented their position at the top of League One, as they came from behind to win. A superb 6 had this spot-on, and a further 14 got the outcome.

BARROW 1 MORECAMBE 2
Morecambe were the only side in the top nine other than leaders Cambridge to win on Saturday as they ended their frustrating four-game winless run to jump from eighth to fourth. A superb 6 got this spot-on, and another 11 had the outcome.

CHELTENHAM TOWN 0 BRADFORD CITY 2
Cheltenham's eight-match unbeaten league run came to an end as Bradford made it 7 wins in 11 for interim bosses Mark Trueman and Conor Sellars. Nobody had this spot-on, and just sevebalo and burnsieespana got the outcome. 22 predicted a win for Cheltenham.

CRAWLEY TOWN 1 COLCHESTER UNITED 0
Substitute James Tilley struck a 93rd-minute winner for Crawley as they ended a nine-game wait for a home league win. Colchester are now winless in 12 games. In the present climate has any manager got a record like that without being sacked? Only mfb_cufc got this spot-on, and 10 more had the outcome.

NEWPORT COUNTY v FOREST GREEN ROVERS Game moved to Sunday 13.00


The freezing frustrations of last week have melted into a fantastic 16 game one this week. This is likely to be the last time we have this many games in a week, as it has been suggested we have a midweek 6 to make up for postponed games, and I think it is a good idea. With virtually no matches being lost to the pandemic, and spring on the way, hopefully there will not be many more postponed games this season. With 16 games there was a chance the record score of 18 in a week could be beaten. Well considering there was 6 games without a 3 pointer, gerry_us and Blue4U2 have both given it a good shot of creating a record, but the best they can do now is equal it if either can get the Newport v Forest Green game tomorrow spot-on.

There will be a full update after the Newport v Forest Green game tomorrow.

THE TABLES (195 out of 280 played)
(Tie-breaker: Most 3 pointers, and then the first to post)




Week 25 Fixtures

LUTON TOWN v SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY
MIDDLESBROUGH v CARDIFF CITY
CHARLTON ATHLETIC v BLACKPOOL
SWINDON TOWN v NORTHAMPTON TOWN
MANSFIELD TOWN v MORECAMBE
WALSALL v BRADFORD CITY

Good luck everybody.
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Letters from Wiltshire #33
by wessex_exile at 13:09 20 Feb 2021

Today we face a trip to Crawley, not usually a venue that bears fruit for the U’s it has to be said. In nine visits we’ve only won once in the league, and once in the League Cup. Of course, we’ll all remember that League Cup victory, indeed many of us were probably there to see us progress through to 5th round and the dream fixture against Manchester United at Old Trafford. All of our goal-scorers that night, Luke’s Norris and Gambin, and Cohen Bramall (okay, technically an O.G.), are no longer with us, so let’s hope at the very least that recent departee and subsequent returnee Frank Nouble can bag another like his late equaliser against Mansfield. Steve Ball commented during the week about how tight the league is at the moment, and he’s right that a couple of back to back victories would see us move significantly up the table away from danger – but we’ve got to win them first Steve – something we’ve failed to do since our 1-0 victory at Scunthorpe on December 8th.

Colchester United v Torquay
Saturday 23rd March 1996
Endsleigh League Division 3 (Tier 4)
Attendance 2,888




The random match selector for Letters from Wiltshire #33 goes right back to March 1996, and a home game against Torquay United. Very much like the U’s, Torquay’s football history is predominantly about bouncing back and forth between the third and fourth tier. Unlike the U’s, they’ve never been higher than that, but like the U’s have spent time in the National League – in fact they’re there right now. However, given they are riding high at the top, and look on track to be promoted back into the football league, I’m sure many of us would look on at their current success with a degree of envy.



Lest we get too dewy-eyed about our own Conference campaigns, winning and scoring for fun, brushing opponents aside on the pitch whilst taking over stadiums off the pitch, I really wouldn’t want to find ourselves back in non-league these days. One look at the National League table today shows a division chock full of professional former league sides; Torquay, Notts County, Stockport, Hartlepool, Wrexham, Yeovil, Chesterfield, Barnet and others – to slip back into that particular pond would take a herculean effort to get out again.

The way we were
Going into this particular fixture on March 23rd 1996, the U’s under manager Steve Wignall in his first full season in charge, were going well. We were 8th in the league, comfortably in touch with the play-off spots, even and an outside chance of nicking the 3rd place automatic promotion slot (the top two, Gillingham and Preston, were 10+ points ahead and more than likely already out of reach). Torquay, on the other hand, were having a shocker – 15pts adrift at the foot of the table, and doomed to certain relegation into non-league football, for the first time in their history.

Only they weren’t…

Despite their hopeless situation, they had a very tangible lifeline. In the conference, Stevenage were going great guns at the top, and looked certain to win the title. But not promotion. Their Broadhall Way ground had already been deemed unfit for league football by the FA back in October 1995, so all Torquay had to hope for was that Stevenage didn’t falter, and the Gull’s survival was assured.

Torquay actually hadn’t started the season too badly, but whether or not the Broadhall Way decision had an effect on their performance, they started tanking at the very end of September. By the time we met them at the back end of March, they’d won just three league matches in six months. Possibly more closely associated with their terminal dip in form was the transfer of Paul Buckle to neighbours Exeter City in October. Despite leaving just two months into the season, with four goals before departure, Buckle would still finish as Torquay’s leading goal scorer in 1995/96. Buckle would join the U’s in November 1996, and spend a very successful next three years at Layer Road.



The ground regulations were very clear, by the end of December Stevenage had to have a minimum capacity of 6,000, at least 1,000 of which must be seated. They didn’t, and needless to say Stevenage chairman and the ever-colourful Victor Green was furious:

It’s completely unfair. We have still not had a satisfactory reason from the Football League for the deadline being December 31st, when we can give a concrete guarantee that our ground will be ready by the start of next season”.

Maybe they just didn’t like you Vic…and can you wonder why? Green was found guilty by the Football Association of telling Torquay they had to cough up a £30k bung, or he’d sell Stevenage’s leading goal-scorer and thus jeopardise their chances of winning the league. If that happened, and nearest challenger Woking had won the league, their ground did pass muster and Torquay would have been relegated. Green was fined £25k by the FA, though it was suspended for two years, should he breach the rules again – I’m not sure if he did eventually have to pay or not.

Is that a fact?
Interesting match stat from our New Years Day game at Plainmoor earlier in the year – I wasn’t there, so am relying on the dubious power of the internet to share real facts – apparently Mark Kinsella opened the scoring after 15 seconds, and Simon Betts scored our third to win 3-2 with 15 seconds to go!

Back to it
So there we have it, the U’s hunting promotion, the Gulls reliant on another team to keep winning, surely all set up for a comfortable victory at Layer Road? We drove over for the weekend, stopping at my Mum’s to catch up with family, and as usual me and my brother-in-law took in the match on the Saturday afternoon, after a couple of beers in the Drury naturally.

There were a couple of changes in Wignall’s line-up compared to the back of the programme, Adam Locke (Locke Locke) was favoured over Tony Dennis and Super Scotty McGleish started ahead of a youthful Karl Duguid – Doogie in his debut season at Layer Road, and this match just two days after his 18th birthday. Not sure if he was nursing a monster hangover, but Doogie was on the bench, alongside Steve Whitton and Tony Dennis.

1….Andy Petterson
2….Chris Fry
3….Simon Betts
4….Tony McCarthy
5….Gus Caesar
6….Peter Cawley
7….Mark Kinsella
8….Adam Locke
9….Scott McGleish
10..Tony Adcock (Steve Whitton)
11..Paul Gibbs (Karl Duguid)

Although not really significant news at the time, only demanding a footnote on page 6 of the programme, the following short piece is particularly relevant in the context of where we are today:



Torquay were managed at the time by Eddie May, who had taken over in November from caretaker Mick Buxton, after the previous manager Don O’Riordan had been dismissed as they slipped towards oblivion. May had enjoyed a decent playing career, including several seasons at Roots Hall, and a pretty good management CV as well, including as Assistant at both Leicester and Charlton, and in charge at both Newport and Cardiff (twice). U’s connection Paul Buckle had already gone to Exeter, but that did still leave Scott Stamps in their line-up that afternoon. Stamps would go on to play just under two seasons for the U’s from 1997 to 1999, of course including our play-off final against Torquay, with our own Paul Gibbs trading places and appearing for the Gulls.



They also had Rodney Jack in their line-up. Not necessarily a household name outside lower league football, Jack would go on to be quite a tidy goal-scorer at not only Torquay, but Crewe and Rushden & Diamonds as well. He also made nearly fifty appearances for his national side, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, averaging an impressive goal every two games in the process. In the matches I’ve seen him play over the years, Jack had always impressed me as a tricky dangerous player, definitely one to be watched carefully.

The match
Apart from knowing why I was there, who with, and that we were on the Barside, there’s not too much I remember about the actual game itself – other than despite being in a strong challenging position for promotion, it was a surprisingly poor crowd that afternoon, less than 3,000. Mind you, that wasn’t actually unusual that season, with most home games struggling to get over the 3k mark – the notable exception being our Boxing Day match against Leyton Orient, when nearly 5,000 squeezed into Layer Road. Typical U’s, bumper festive crowd, and we ground out a drab 0-0 draw.

Looking at the match stats, it was clearly as comfortable a game as I was expecting. ‘Twiggy’ Fry put the U’s ahead in just the 6th minute, and although this didn’t bode well for beleaguered Torquay, they managed to keep it at just 1-0 right the way through to half-time. Clearly the Gulls struggled to get into matches, because just two minutes into the second half, Scott McGleish made it 2-0, and almost certainly game over as far as Torquay was concerned.

Now it was just a question of not whether we could score any more, but also how many. I can’t remember the reason, certainly there were no red card incidents, but our third duly arrived in the 74th minute with Simon Betts converting from the penalty spot at the Layer Road end. That seemed to be that, and the U’s appeared happy to settle for an easy 3-0 victory. However, finding a spirit they could really have done with more of, Torquay rallied, and in the 86th minute substitute Ellis Laight grabbed a late consolation for the Gulls. Still a comfortable victory for the U’s though, as we moved inexorably closer to the play-offs.

Colchester United 3 (Chris Fry 6’; Scott McGleish 47’; Simon Betts 74’p) Torquay United 1 (Ellis Laight 86’)

Thanks to Paul Gibbs’ fortuitous cross-cum-shot in our final match against Doncaster Rovers, already featured in LfW#23, we did squeeze into the final play-off slot at the end of the season. There we faced Plymouth Argyle in a somewhat bad-tempered and hostile two-legged semi-final. One day the Home Park leg may well feature in these blogs, but I’ll say no more about it now.

Torquay did of course finish rock bottom of the league, without winning another match for the remainder of the season. Remarkably, picking up a few draws, they actually managed to close the gap on 2nd from bottom Scarborough to just 11 points, but a -54 goal difference has got to be some sort of record?

Conversely, Stevenage romped home at the top of the Conference, 8 points clear and with a +57 goal difference…and stayed exactly where they were. Torquay were saved, and after a season of rebuilding in 1996/97, would meet the U’s in the play-off final in May 1998. They were of course unsuccessful, and eventual lost their fight to stay in the Football League in 2007.

Up the U’s
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11th time lucky for super U's at the People's Pension Stadium
by durham_exile at 12:11 20 Feb 2021

"If it wasn't for a really disappointing couple of goals on Sunday, then we win the game." - Steve Ball

A bizarre quote and one that sums up the Head Coach, confused, unclear and lacking in credibility.

Anyway, I promised myself that I would not be too negative in my preview today. So, let us dwell on the positives.

So instead of saying that we have not won for 11 games, let us say that we have 5 draws out of the last 7 games. Also, those draws have been against Mansfield, Orient, Stevenage, Cambridge, and Cheltenham all teams that have been on decent runs or are well placed in the table.

Cambridge 29 49

Oldham 27 34
COL U 27 33
PV 28 32
Scunny 26 32
Stevenage 29 32
Southend 28 34
Barrow 26 23
Grimsby 27 21

The return of Big Frank has been a massive boost for the squad. His goal against Mansfield was masterful and Brendan Wiredu is also a very useful addition to the squad.

In Pell, Stevenson, Wiredu, Lapslie, and Chilvers we have a very effective midfield, but SB is not able to play them all in the same side.

Harriott, Brown and Nouble must play preferably together and upfront.

In defence Welch-Hayes, Eastman, Smith and Clampin look the best four with Doherty left back and Junior Tchamadeu right back cover and utility player Sowunmi who can play in a number of positions.

Then we have Gerken and George as Goalkeepers. I bitterly regret the loss of Ethan Ross who would make a superb number one, but that ship has sailed.

We have to mention Courtney Senior (now with 137 appearances and 14 goals though nothing this year). He has regressed massively and should spend time on the bench and in the U23s to see whether he can recreate the promise that he initially showed at the club. I want the lad to do well, but when a side is struggling, and we are, then there is no room for passengers.

Poku is an enigma. He can be brilliant, last season at Salford was his best game ever in a U’s shirt, but he fails to strike that form on a regular basis.

Paris Cowan-Hall is the forgotten man, he was outstanding against Spurs and kept Son in his pocket all game. I know that he has been injured but SB has ignored him. Versatile he can play defence, midfield, or even up front. What is going on here?

Marley Marshal-Miranda is often on the bench and plays midfield, but I do not know enough about him to make a qualified judgement.

Then the two imponderables Josh Bohui and Michael Folivi. SB does not use them to best effect and in fact they are very much on the periphery of the team.

Samson Tovide is the player that excites me. Young, untried but plenty of potential. Get him into the team soon even as the famous 8-minute substitute.

Quite frankly these players should be 18th in the league. The fact that they are is down more to crass stupidity from SB rather than failings on their part.

There have been too many 4,6,0 or 4,5,1-line ups where a lone striker is isolated or exposed to two or three defenders and marked out of the game.

Many people have made this season one of survival. That frankly is rubbish. We wasted a golden opportunity with the FA Cup to make 250K and that set the standard of indifference and incompetence.

Four teams will be promoted and two relegated, it is that simple. Barring miracles, we have lost any chance of promotion and so we are in a relegation scrap. Ultimately Barrow and Grimsby will go down (Southend will escape) but in 18th place, we are too close for comfort.

Victory today could see us rise to the dizzy heights of 12th in the table. That is simply not good enough. We have 19 games to play and we still need 20 points to be mathematically safe. 40 points would see an unlikely top seven position but let us be realistic 40 points from 19 games is not going to happen. 5 successive failures to get out of the basement league that is poor by any standard. Yes, no team has a divine right to promotion, but we are advancing backwards under the current regime.

Tony Ashby has left the club this week and the silence has been deafening. Will he be replaced as a Director of the Club?

Hayden Mullins joined the club with a pedigree of knowledge and experience, is he actually allowed to get involved at any stage.

50 years since that game against Leeds and 15 years since Parky took us to the promised land.

2021 is looking like our lowest position finish since we went out of the league. A grim prospect.

As a man who is of the glass half full persuasion, I am looking for the positives and today we must look to win the game at the 12th attempt. A clean sheet must be the aim and then to score a priceless away goal to win the match.

I would look to start with the following XI:

Gerken

Welch-Hayes Eastman Smith Clampin

Stevenson Pell Lapslie

Harriott Brown Nouble

Subs:
George Sowunmi Doherty Wiredu Folivi Oteh Chilvers

Sadly, I will be wrong in my selection, but that is why SB is the Head Coach and me simply a supporter.

Weather in Crawley West Sussex 14 degrees Celsius and dry with sunny intervals. Almost sub-tropical in fact.

Colchester to win by 1-0 with Jevani Brown restored to the team getting the all-important winner. He should not have been dropped in the first place.

I have spent £250 on games this season with three “free games” after winning weekly codes. At least I have watched every game and would have already spent more actually attending about 12 games when travelling expenses and game day spend is considered.
Of course I have also spent £120 on club merchandise this season.

Come on the U’s give me and the rest of the faithful something to cheer today.

Enjoy the game.

Up the U’s


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View from the management...
by gerry_us at 19:40 19 Feb 2021

from the Manager's view of Crawley game..

"All I know of the league is that if we as a team now get a couple of wins, we will go right up to the top ten. That's how tight it is. That's where we are looking, and we need to do it. We have been so close of late, even in the last couple of minutes on Sunday, and we just need to get that win over the line."

Oh, so it's that easy then...Oh. and what is a win?
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Happy Cup 2020/21 Final - Deadline Saturday 20th March 12.15
by mfb_cufc at 16:07 18 Feb 2021

A recap of the Semi-final scores:-

ghughes11 9 (2) durham_exile 5

Lewis_1 8 (1) oxfcolu 6 (1)


This is the third season running the Happy Cup Final has been contested by two from Division One. After losing in the final two seasons ago ghughes11 will be looking to go one better, and Lewis_1 makes the final for the first time, in only his second season as a member. The winner will recieve a personalised Colchester United mug.


Final Fixtures They are the four FA Cup quarter-final fixtures played at different times on the Saturday and Sunday, and six from the League on Saturday.

This is a one off game no replays. The usual tie-breaker rules apply, most 3 pointers, and then more importantly the first to post. There are no replays in the FA Cup matches, so scores are settled on the 90 minute result. If any fixtures are postponed, the final will be decided on the remaining games. Finally, no more than four scores the same as your opponent please. All 10 games to be predicted at the same time please.

AFC BOURNEMOUTH v SOUTHAMPTON (FA Cup Sat 12.15)
EVERTON v MANCHESTER CITY (FA Cup Sat 17.30)
CHELSEA v SHEFFIELD UNITED (FA Cup Sun 13.30)
LEICESTER CITY v MANCHESTER UNITED (FA Cup Sun 17.00)
NORWICH CITY v BLACKBURN ROVERS
PORTSMOUTH v IPSWICH TOWN
SUNDERLAND v LINCOLN CITY
CAMBRIDGE UNITED v FOREST GREEN ROVERS
COLCHESTER UNITED v PORT VALE
CHELTENHAM TOWN v SALFORD CITY

DON'T FORGET THE DEADLINE IS SATURDAY 20TH MARCH 12.15

Good luck to both of you.
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Tony Ashby leaves CUFC
by Leadbelly at 13:54 17 Feb 2021

https://www.gazette-news.co.uk/sport/19094950.colchester-uniteds-director-operat

Wrong Tony?!
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