Colchester United v Northampton Town Tuesday 10th November 1998 Nationwide League 2 (Tier 3) Attendance 3,597
Match 12 of the series, and we return to League action, almost exactly 20 years before Match 11 at Newport County, with a home match against Northampton Town under Steve Wignall (second of the series featuring Northampton). This was our first season back in the 3rd tier of the Football League, and perhaps to put our current woes into some perspective, it had been 17 whole seasons (1980/81) since we’d last been at this level. More to the point, in 30 seasons since 1967/68 we’d only been at this level for six of those seasons (mostly those imperious years of Garwood, Gough, Froggatt et al of the 70s).
Now this is another one that my memory banks are really struggling with. First and foremost, when this cropped up on the random number generator yesterday evening, I couldn’t for the life of me even recall why on earth I was at a midweek game at Layer Rd in the first place! Fortunately, where memory banks fail, company archives come to the rescue, and I have worked out that this coincided with some of our Kent-based investigations in advance of HS1 (then known as the Channel Tunnel Rail Link). Putting two and two together, I must have been in Kent for that reason, and saw an opportunity for a relatively short trip via Dartford to watch the U’s. This isn’t unrealistic, my following of the U’s is littered with taking such opportunities when they presented themselves, even on occasions manipulating the timing of project-related events to ensure these opportunities presented themselves.
In the days before squad numbers, the U’s lined up that evening: 1….Carl Emberson 2….Joe Dunne 3….Scott Stamps 4….Geraint Williams 5….David Greene 6….Paul Buckle 7….Jason Dozzell 8….David Gregory 9….Mark Sale (programme says Tony Lock) 10..Tony Lock (programme says Neil Gregory; Tony Lock 89’) 11..Steve Forbes (programme says Paul Abrahams; Neil Gregory 85’)
Not surprisingly, given our relative proximity, there have been many connections between us and the Cobblers over the years, so much so that the 1998 programme devoted a double-page spread to these (courtesy of football historian Leigh Edwards). The article included detailed profiles on Tony “Rooster” Adcock, former NI international Colin Hill, the afore-mentioned John Froggatt, our record goal-scorer Bobby Hunt (couldn’t we do with him now!), Nicky Smith from our Conference glory days, Bob Allen (including our 1947/48 FA Cup success) and John Kurila. Also mentioned in dispatches were Chris Hyslop, Trevor Lee, Gerry Perryman, Ian Phillips, Eddie Smith and Keith Williams. Two names stand out from the Cobblers that evening in 1998, Andy Woodman in goal (who would join us on loan in 2000, and then sign for most of the 2001/02 season before heading off to Oxford United) and of course their manager Ian Atkins. Transferring from Birmingham City, Atkins was player-coach for our first season in the Conference (scoring 7 goals), before returning also as player-coach to Birmingham in 1991 (and replaced by Big Roy). He had been Manager of Northampton Town since 1995.
Going into this game, the U’s had been a bit up and down, winning the first match at home to Chesterfield (remember the time when we always seemed to play Chesterfield at the start of the season?), and then emphatically 4-2 at Wrexham. However, from then, results were mostly down, and particularly the previous six matches which had seen four defeats and two draws. By that Tuesday evening we were 5th from bottom on 17 points, with the Cobblers one place above us on the same points.
Other than I know I was barside in a half-decent crowd for a Tuesday night (over 3.5k) I cannot give you a detailed match summary, because I really haven’t a clue, so I’ll restrict this to the salient points courtesy of the excellent ColuData website ( https://www.coludata.co.uk/). It would appear nothing of note happened in the first half, which finished 0-0. Atkins brought on Ali Gibb (right midfield) for the second half, replacing Chris Wilder (right back), presumably a tactical attacking substitution to try and change things around a bit. He then replaced Lee Howey (playing in an attacking no. 8 role for the match) in the 81st minute with Dave Savage (midfielder), which suggests he was trying to shore things up and at least hold on to the point?
The crucial events were then to follow. In the 85th minute Wignall brought on forward Neil Gregory for attacking midfielder Steve Forbes, and in the 88th minute the pressure appeared to pay off with David Greene putting the U’s 1-0 up. There then followed a double substitution, Atkins bringing on Christian Lee as a forward, replacing midfielder Sean Parrish, in a desperate attempt to rescue at least a point. Wignall countered by replacing forward Tony Lock with defensive midfielder Nicky Haydon, which was enough for the U’s to hold on to the precious 3 points.
Colchester United 1 (Greene 88’) Northampton Town 0
There were still difficult days to come, not least Wignall being replaced by Mick “bigger b’stard than Mick Wadsworth” Wadsworth”, but by hook and by crook we managed to claw away from relegation by three places and just two points. The crucial match was another Tuesday night victory in late April at home to Bournemouth, which I remember very well. Northampton weren’t so fortunate, and were relegated alongside York City, Lincoln City and Macclesfield Town.
However, there are a couple of items in the programme worthy of further consideration, first of which is an incidental article about the fortunes of what were dubbed in the programme the “Colchester boys”.
Looking through this today, I think this is the first programme I have which mentions Lua Lua by name, scoring a consolation penalty in a South East Counties League Division 2 defeat at home to tomorrow nights opponents Swindon Town (see any of you there if you’re travelling), and then appearing on the bench in our following 3-1 Avon Insurance Combination League defeat away against Fulham. Lua Lua only joined us in September 1998 – is the Swindon penalty a record of his first goal for the U’s?
Also, and finally, for those that may have vague recollections of the time frame, this was our last league match before the first round of the FA Cup the following Saturday, away at Bedlington Terriers. I leave you with the somewhat optimistic announcement in the programme regarding ticket arrangements if a replay was required…
MANCHESTER UNITED 1 LEICESTER 0 United are now unbeaten in their last 134 home Premier League games when they have scored first. Leicester continued their horrific run against United, now losing 18 times against them - more than any other opponent. Only 2 got this spot-on, and a further 16 had the outcome, that included 13 who went for a 2-1, in what was the weeks most predicted score. Ironically 7 predicted a 2-1 win for Leicester.
TOTTENHAM 4 CRYSTAL PALACE 0 Spurs have now won each of their last nine Premier League games against Palace after this outstanding performance. They will probably have a harder game than this on Tuesday week. Nobody had this spot-on, but a big 29 did get the outcome.
WOLVES 2 CHELSEA 5 Chelsea have become the first team in Premier League history to have 11 consecutive league goals scored by players aged 21 or younger as they destroyed Wolves. A Tammy Abrahams hat-trick means he has scored 7 goals in his last 3 appearances. There were 13 different scores predicted for this game, but it is not surprising nobody got it spot-on, though 9 did have the outcome.
HULL 2 WIGAN 2 Teenager Joe Gelhardt's first goal in professional football rescued a point for Wigan. The draw did little to get either team's season going, with both having won just once in their opening seven league games. Just 2 got this spot-on, and 2 also had the outcome.
MIDDLESBROUGH 1 READING 0 Boro toast their 500th league match at the Riverside with a sixth straight Championship win over the Royals, after this unconvincing victory. A massive 9 had this spot-on, and another 13 got the outcome.
SWANSEA 0 NOTTINGHAM FOREST 1 Swansea's unbeaten start to the season came to an end as substitute Alfa Semedo earned Forest a deserved win. Noticed that Swansea keeper is Freddie Woodman. Son of ex-U's Andy. Only 2 had this spot-on, and 2 also got the outcome. 22 predicted a win for Swansea.
For the second week running 3 pointers proved hard to come by, and just like last week one teams victory made all the difference, with Middlesbrough's 1-0 providing 9 of the 15 total spot-ons. Considering how hard 3 pointers were to find, it was another outstanding week from noah4x4 to get 3 of them, the 1-0 wins for Man Utd, Middlesbrough and Notts Forest, and one outcome means he is the weeks top scorer with a brilliant 10 points. In these early days of the season the 1-0 scoreline has certainly been the way to go, with 11 of the 40 games ending that way. 8 home wins and 3 away. With another one today the 2-2 draw has now had 5, outscoring the popular 1-1 and 2-1, who have both had 3 ending that way. Another two members to benefit from that 1-0 scoreline were Daniel, who had the wins for Man Utd and Middlesbrough on his way to getting an excellent 9 points, and mfb_cufc, who had the wins for Middlesbrough and Notts Forest to give him a decent 7 points. Best of those to get one spot-on was Blue4U2, the Hull 2-2, and four outcomes also gave him a decent 7 points.
In the Premier The phenomenal start to the season made by noah4x4, with almost 1 in 3 of his predictions earning him a 3 pointer, continued this week, and he has stretched his lead at the summit to an amazing 14 points. A tremendous effort for someone thinking more cricket than football at the moment. Three outcomes were enough for Sector4 to hold onto second place, and a good week for mfb_cufc consolidated his top three spot. A solid week for RSCOSWORTH, that included having the Middlesbrough 1-0 spot-on, moved him into the top half for the first time this season. At the bottom It was good to see Colukev avoid having to be expelled, but the next task is to avoid being relegated. Past performances prove he is up to it. After another disappointing week he is joined in bottom three by TheHappyGooner.
In Division One After having to settle for second on the tie-breaker rules for the last two weeks Blue4U2 has finally made it to the top, and at the same time created a useful 5 point cushion. Up three places into the other automatic spot is ghughes11, who was another one to benefit from having the Middlesbrough 1-0 spot-on. Last weeks leader Lewi_1 has to make do with a play-off spot this week. After getting his first 3 pointers of the season Daniel moves up an impressive nine places, and into the play-off spots for the first time this season. The other play-off places are still held by concordman and BFG, but only on the the first to post rule. Further down the league well done to gsy163 on getting his first 3 pointer this season. This means everybody in both divisions has achieved one now.
THE TABLES (40 out of 280 played) (Tie-breaker: Most 3 pointers, and then the first to post)
Week 7 Fixtures picked by this weeks guest ghughes11. DON'T FORGET THE DEADLINE THIS WEEK IS 12.30.
LEICESTER CITY v TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (12.30) BURNLEY v NORWICH CITY NEWCASTLE UNITED v BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION BRISTOL CITY v SWANSEA CITY DONCASTER ROVERS v PETERBOROUGH UNITED GILLINGHAM v IPSWICH TOWN MILTON KEYNES DONS v SOUTHEND UNITED WYCOMBE WANDERERS v PORTSMOUTH CAMBRIDGE UNITED v SWINDON TOWN COLCHESTER UNITED v LEYTON ORIENT
Apologies all, it’s been quite a hectic week at work so this one had to wait until today I’m afraid. I’m off to the New Lawn after this, so looking forward to seeing Noah and anyone else when I get there.
Newport County v Colchester United Saturday 17th November 2018 Sky Bet League 2 (Tier 4) Attendance 3,512
Match 11 of the series, and we’re not travelling far back in time for this one, just 11 months ago at Rodney Parade. So, there have been plenty of firsts going around on the Matches of Yesteryear, and here’s another one, the first of the series that I only have the tickets for, and not a programme (though that in itself is quite notable in a way – see if you can spot why on the tickets).
This was quite a local game from where I’m based in North Wiltshire, so me and the youngest drove over for this one. I’ve trained it in the past, which is fine if I want to have some beer, but not so fine when the train takes twice as long and is significantly more expensive. In the league, back-to-back 1-0 home wins against promotion favourites Lincoln City and Swindon had propelled the U’s into 3rd place before this match, with Newport in the play-off places. However, immediately prior to this game results had been considerably less ‘glorious’ for the U’s, exiting the FA Cup 1-0 at Accrington Stanley the previous Saturday, followed by a Tuesday night meaningless 3-1 defeat against meaningless Cambridge United in the meaningless EFL Trophy…meaning that was all three cups over for us – again.
The U’s lined up at Rodney Parade: 1….Dillon Barnes 2….Ryan Jackson 22..Kane Vincent-Young 6….Frankie Kent 5….Luke Prosser (c) 4….Tom Lapslie (Ryan Gondoh ’76) 16..Diaz Wrigh 10..Sammie Szmodics 7….Courtney Senior (Collins 81’) 11..Brennan Dickenson (Mikael Mandron 58’) 45..Frank Nouble
Looking at the Newport line-up that day, there are no obvious names of note to pick out, though there was considerable speculation at the time that their talismanic striker Pádraig Amond might be off to the lofty heights of Shrewsbury – they needed have worried, he signed a contract extension in the January transfer window, and went on to score 21 goals for them that season – and four already this season. Of course, the really big name, and for a big big player, was our very own Big Frank, and his first match against his former club. By the way, Brandon Comley was away on international duties with Montserrat.
With the U’s riding high in the league, and despite the distance from Essex, there was a pretty decent and vocal following from the U’s, and a lot of familiar faces to catch up with as a result. Mind you, it was a bit of a scrum trying to jam us all in the relatively small section of seats available – and not without some pretty heated steward-fan banter back and forth about where our choir could stand to serenade the audience. This was also the first time I’d tried the bar facility for away fans at the ground (having just the one mind you 😉), and whilst it had the general look and feel of an East European bunker, it wasn’t that bad otherwise.
With the game relatively recent, there are still plenty of match reports out there on the internet, so I’ll try and restrict myself to just my subjective perception of the game. The U’s certainly started brightly, passing the ball around well, controlling possession for long spells, but (and this will sound familiar) with very little to show for it. No killer ball into the box, no decisive runs, virtually no one prepared to leather it from 25 yards, apart for one effort from Big Frank, but it was catching practice for their ‘keeper. After the match, Newport manager Mike Flynn said “They were by far the better team in the first half” – better probably, by far certainly not. Still, lots of pretty passing triangles with nothing to show for it meant it was still 0-0 at half-time.
The U’s continued in the same vein into the second half, seemingly believing they had all the time in the world to ponderously pass the ball into the net. The wake-up call came in the 54th minute, with a completely unmarked Newport player delightfully flicking on a corner for Matt to score from point blank range. At the time, I was certain Barnes was to blame, looking asleep to the danger of the flick-on, and maybe with hindsight the video evidence suggests I was being a tad harsh, but in my defence Barnes did not have a particularly good game. Far too often, with a swift break on the cards, Barnes dithered about who to throw it out to, until the opportunity had been and gone.
The goal forced McGreal to change things around, and Dickenson (who had been dreadful all game) was replaced by Mandron. Though the wake-up call did, sort of, wake the U’s up, we still weren’t really creating any decent chances for ourselves, so again Newport County kindly showed us how it should be done. A delightful defensive splitting pass right through the middle of our back line, and Pring easily side-foots past Barnes, who had no choice but to commit but went the wrong way – not his fault this time.
Finally, after enough encouragement, the U’s started to really press, and really start creating chances. Lapslie was terrier-like as usual, but having trouble staying on his feet, and was replaced by Gondoh on 76th minutes, and there-on in it was pretty much all U’s – we hit the bar, Big Frank had a shot cleared off the line, blasted decent efforts just wide – basically, did everything but score. I think special mention does need to be made here for Sammie and Frank, they did at least work hard all game.
However, if we want to talk about decent efforts on goal, we must spare a mention for the comedy gold moment of the match – with the U’s penning Newport back in their own half, inevitably they did break away very late in the game. Harris cut in from the right, evaded a couple of tackles, and clipped over Barnes (though he got a touch) from close range. The ball actually looked destined to spin in off the post, but with the Newport crowd already celebrating a goal, Pring decided to make sure and slide in with the killer touch – only to scoop it up on to the bar and away to safety!
Newport County 2 (Matt 54’, Pring 67’) Colchester United 0
Though that gave me something to smile about at the death, this was a disappointing performance from the U’s, very much reflecting concerns we all had about our style of play – too ponderous, too slow, not enough direct running, and not enough decent crosses into the box. Mind you, the fireworks display from across the river was a nice touch at the end.
The U’s slipped out of the automatic promotion places after this match, replaced by Newport, but went on to have a decent run right through to Christmas, which saw us back in 3rd place. Incidentally, on that Saturday evening, the top seven in order were: MK Dons, Lincoln City, Newport, U’s, Mansfield, Exeter, and Tranmere – Exeter slipped away and were overtaken by todays opponents FGR, so your starter for 10 – which other team wasn’t there at the end, and which team replaced them?
I must have been cross after the Newport game – when I got home I bought Reservoir Dogs…
Incidentally, the ticket thing – they were free! As me and Alfie arrived at the ground to buy our tickets, one of the U’s ladies (I’ve seen her loads of times at matches over the years) thrust this pair of beauties into my hand – must have been complementary tickets for someone else who no longer needed them, but I wasn’t going to argue 😊!
JM and his charges take to the road for a league double header in preparation for next weekend’s home fixture against the Orient and then the little matter of the Spurs Carabao Cup encounter.
JM will be looking to secure the U’s position in the top half of the table and ensuring that minds do not wander too far from the necessity to claim valuable league points.
I will review both games against Forest Green Rovers at the New Lawn and the Tuesday evening game against Swindon at the Energy Check County Ground.
Saturday takes the U’s to Nailsworth in Gloucestershire for the eco friendly club led by Mark Cooper, but former U’s stalwart Matt Mills is unable to play for FGR this time.
A look at the table shows that after 7 games both FGR and Swindon are sitting in the play off positions. It is early but it is also vital that we continue to pick up points to maintain our climb of the table.
We have a decent record at the New Lawn but last season we lost 3-0 at home (a game that I watched on I follow) during our disastrous phase where we slumped out of the automatic promotion places on a wretched run of results. Another away victory would be very well received by the faithful.
Four points from the next two games would be a handsome return, especially as both fixtures will be close encounters.
The weather in Nailsworth will be sunny and 20 degrees Celsius tomorrow.
On Tuesday we travel to Swindon, doubtless still smarting from their Carabao cup defeat at the JobServe CS. Richie Wellens has obtained maximum value from his striker loanees Jerry Yates from Rotherham and Eoin Doyle from Bradford.
The weather in Swindon is likely to be 15 degrees Celsius with some early Autumnal sunshine in readiness for the evening game. The U’s to battle for a hard-earned point to prepare for the Orient game.
Now JM has a headache ahead of both games with returning players from international duty in Luke Gambin and Brandon Comley but sadly no return yet for Harry Pell. Kwame Poku is likely to remain in the matchday squad whilst Callum Harriott could come into contention this weekend.
There is little doubt about the first five positions:
Jackson Eastman Prosser Clampin
But JM must think long and hard about the midfield:
Does he play Senior and Gambin or go with Stevenson Lapslie and Comley or Wiredu With perhaps Brown, Nouble and Norris or is there a place for Cowan-Hall or Robinson. Can Callum Harriott also be drafted in. It is a real selection dilemma for the U’s tactical supremo.
He will already be thinking about his XI for the following Tuesday evening but there are 9 valuable league points up for grabs before that. JM will surely want to keep the unbeaten run going for as long as possible.
Therefore, I reckon the following for FGR tomorrow:
Jackson Eastman Prosser Clampin
Senior Stevenson Lapslie Gambin
Subs: Ross Chilvers Wiredu Brown Robinson Cowan-Hall Comley
JM may consider drafting in Callum Harriott at Swindon on Tuesday with Kwame Poku. He will also have Cohen Bramall and Omar Sowunmi available for squad selection, but the next two games might be too soon for them.
FLEETWOOD 2 OXFORD UNITED 1 Fleetwood's seven month unbeaten home run continued with this victory. A massive 12 got this spot-on, in what was the weeks most predicted score, and a further 15 had the outcome.
TRANMERE 2 GILLINGHAM 2 Tranmere came from two goals down at half time to rescue a point. It could have been even better if they hadn't missed a penalty. Nobody had this spot-on, but 6 did get the outcome. 17 predicted a win for Tranmere.
WYCOMBE 3 LINCOLN 1 Left-back Joe Jacobson scored twice as Wycombe moved to the top of League One. This convincing victory ensured Wycombe moved to their highest league position in their 132-year history. Again no 3 pointer for anybody here, though 8 did have the outcome.
CARLISLE 1 EXETER 3 League Two pacesetters Exeter maintained their unbeaten record with this win. Well done to wessex_exile for being the only one to have this spot-on, and another 16 got the outcome.
GRIMSBY 0 CREWE 2 Grimsby were another team to miss a penalty this week, and Crewe took full advantage as they continued their excellent start to the season. Well done to the not so Stupid_Gooner by being the only one to get this spot-on, with 8 more having the outcome.
LEYTON ORIENT 1 SWINDON 3 Swindon moved up to fourth in League Two after this comfortable victory. Well done to BFG for making it a hat-trick of members in being the only ones to get a score spot-on, and a further 16 had the outcome.
Last week produced a number of decent of scores, but it didn't prove to be so easy this week. It was left to Fleetwood - with their 2-1 win meaning the weeks most predicted score was successful for the second week running - to put some respectability to the weeks proceedings. Their win achieved 51 of the weeks total 114 points, and 12 of the 15 spot-ons. So with 3 pointers hard to come by without the Fleetwood effort, two members did well to have two. They were BFG and wessex_exile, who both had that Fleetwood 2-1 spot-on to go with the their good picks mentioned above, and two outcomes each means they share the honour of being the weeks top scorer with a decent 8 points. Best of those who had one 3 pointer were RSCOSWORTH, concordman and GOSBTS, who all had the Fleetwod 2-1 spot-on, and three outcomes, to give them a very good 6 points.
In the Premier For the first time this season noah4x4 failed to get a 3 pointer, but his four outcomes helped to maintain his 7 point lead, as Sector4 matched his score thanks to having the Fleetwood 2-1 spot-on. Others to benefit from getting 3 points for the Fleetwood 2-1 were mfb_cufc, who moved into the top three for the first time this season, thrillseeker, who also moved up a couple of places, and RSCOSWORTH, who moved out of the relegation zone for the first time this season. No shows from TheFatGooner and Colukev leaves them occupying the bottom two places. In the latter's case it is the third week running. So please post next week Kev and avoid me having to expel you from all Happy competitions.
In Division One As in the Premier it is four outcomes that keeps Lewis_1 at the top on the most 3 pointer rule despite Blue4U2 getting the same 4 points by having the Fleetwood 2-1 spot-on. Another to benefit from that Fleetwood win was blueeagle, and he remains third. Another of the 12 to be thankful for Fleetwood was ghughes11, and he stays in the play-off spots, even though he drops a place as BFG moves into the play-off places for the first time this season after his top scoring effort. Also achieving that goal is concordman, after his good score. Biggest mover in this league was the weeks other top scorer wessex_exile, up seven places, and just a point short of the play-offs. As is GOSBTS, who continued his gradual climb, with a good week, and unitedwhites who had to settle for five outcomes for the second week in a row. That same number of outcomes was also achieved by Daniel, and he is incredibly still waitng for a first 3 pointer, but has more outcomes than anybody in both divisions.
THE TABLES (34 out of 280 played) (Tie-breaker: Most 3 pointers, and then the first to post)
Week 6 Fixtures
MANCHESTER UNITED v LEICESTER CITY* TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR v CRYSTAL PALACE* WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS v CHELSEA* HULL CITY v WIGAN ATHLETIC MIDDLESBROUGH v READING SWANSEA CITY v NOTTINGHAM FOREST
*WARNING these fixtures use VAR, that means the result could be affected by poor decisions. As Edwin Starr once said V(W)AR what is it good for? Absolutely nothing.
After the excitement of the last week with four consecutive victories including two in the Cups (virtually unheard of in modern football parlance) it is important for the team to focus solely on the bread and butter of the league as we prepare to welcome Darrell Clarke’s Saddlers to the JobServe Community Stadium.
Clarke has added 16 new signings to the Bescot with only Bradford with 15 new arrivals closest to the total. They started well but have fallen away but make no mistake they will be keen to put things right against the U’s and we must guard against complacency.
JM by contrast is looking to extend this winning run and has made two impressive signings during the past few days. Loanee Theo Robinson, who impressed at Oldham and then at Gillingham, will get the opportunity to open his home account for the U’s whilst it might be too soon for new signing Callum Harriott from Reading. He impressed when on loan four years ago with 7 goals in 23 appearances and this time has signed a two-year deal. Fitness might be key and so I don’t expect to see him in the squad tomorrow. Both signings have impressed Colchester supporters who are beginning to believe that this could be our year for automatic promotion.
They join youngster Freddie Hinds from Bristol City who will play predominantly for the U23’s.
This weekend JM has a selection dilemma which will only increase when Harry Pell, Tom Lapslie and Cohen Bramall return from injury. Sadly, Pell is out until October.
This weekend Brandon Comley and Luke Gambin are also away on International duty with Montserrat and Malta respectively.
JM still has some quality to choose from however:
Jackson Eastman Prosser Clampin
Brown Stevenson Chilvers Senior
Subs: Ross James Hasanally Poku Cowan-Hall Robinson Kensdale
The Goalkeeper and back four pick themselves, whilst young Noah Chilvers should get a start in midfield. Senior and Brown to join them whilst the rejuvenated Nouble and top scorer Norris have formed a good partnership.
The real excitement could come from the bench however with Theo Robinson and Kwame Poku deserving of match time. Indeed, JM could play a front three of Robinson, Nouble and Norris as it is a home fixture. Too adventurous perhaps, but for a few minutes at Boundary Park last week we played with three up front. Exciting times indeed.
The only thing missing so far this season has been the ability to put a team firmly out of the picture. JM must target Walsall as potential whipping boys (no disrespect) but a handsome 4-0 home victory is called for tomorrow.
The Spurs game and a capacity crowd of 10,000 obviously is overshadowing forthcoming fixtures but whilst such games come along occasionally, it is the Saddlers games that offer three points and the chance to climb the table and ultimately to get out of League Two which must be the aim this season.
The weather tomorrow will be partly sunny and 18 degrees Celsius.
A decent crowd after some quality results should make for a good atmosphere.
Reading v Colchester United Saturday 26th January 2002 Nationwide Division 2 (Tier 3) Attendance 12,743
Well, it had to happen eventually – a match without a doubt I attended but can’t for the life of me recall a single moment of! I certainly remember the journey over, which included a particularly fraught incident following several tins of lager on the first leg of my train journey, my connection from Basingstoke to Reading having no working toilets, and an empty lager tin – but I’ll leave you to work the rest out!
This wasn’t my first trip to the Madejski Stadium, which opened in 1998, I’d been quite a few times before, including the LDV Vans Trophy game earlier the same season (which we lost 2-1). Alan Pardew was managing the Royals at the time, who following six consecutive wins (all clean sheets) were sat comfortably top of the league, six points ahead of Brighton (albeit Brighton had two games in hand). The U’s were managed by Steve Whitton, and positioned reasonably well in mid-table, six points off the play-offs.
The U’s lined up at the Madejski: 1….Simon Brown 30..John Halls (six-game loan from Arsenal) 19..Alan White (White White) 12..Scott Fitzgerald 7….Karl Duguid 3….Joe Keith (Gavin Johnson 55’) 20..Micky Stockwell 10..Kem Izzet 17..Bobby Bowry (Thomas Pinault 77’) 9….Scott McGleish 11..Graham Barrett
For the Royals that day were two who were destined to become some of the greatest names of the early 21st century for the U’s – Phil Parkinson in the starting line-up (and subbed in the 72nd minute), and Jamie Cureton coming off the bench in the 60th minute. Other names of note included John Mackie (on the front cover of the programme), John Salako, and of course Reading goal-machine Nicky Forster.
I don’t have the stats for the U’s fans in attendance, but I’d reckon it was somewhere between 3-400, in a stadium which was just over half-full on the day – actually quite a decent crowd for Reading at the time, no doubt reflecting their recent success. The matchday facts (courtesy of https://www.coludata.co.uk/) were that Nicky Forster put Reading ahead from the penalty spot a few minutes before half-time, and Andy Hughes doubled the lead not long into the second half. In the 55th minute Steve Whitton replaced Keith with Johnson, and in the 60th minute (presumably tactically), Cureton made his appearance, replacing Tony Rougier. In the 69th minute, Nicky Forster again showed why he was such a renowned striker, putting Reading 3-0 up, and the game out of reach for the U’s. Shortly after, with Parkinson on a yellow card, he was replaced by Keith Jones, and not even the late introduction of Thomas Pinault for Bobby Bowry was enough for the U’s to get anything from the game.
However, in the absence of any meaningful match memories, what I can share is a little glimpse into my working life, and more importantly, how that has a direct bearing on being at the Madejski Stadium. Over the years, my company has provided archaeological services in support of the development of numerous football grounds and associated infrastructure. These have included Melksham Town, Rolvenden FC, Chichester City, Ebbsfleet United, Brentford’s new stadium, Hayes (before they became Hayes & Yeading United), Dorchester Town, Margate, even Southend United’s proposed stadium at Fossett’s Farm, and most notably the St Mary’s stadium at Southampton. This association also includes appointment by Reading FC to carry out archaeological works to clear the site ahead of the development of the Madejski Stadium and associated Reading Gate Retail Park (as it was then known).
Most of the proposed development site was occupied by Smallmead Tip, a household refuse landfill site mainly in use during the late 60s and 70s. The tip covered a vast area south of Foudry Brook, and to the west of what was then a drainage leat and footpath from Hartley Court in the south to Manor Farm in the north. Incidentally, the area around the Madejski still has built-in methane vents to this day because of the landfill still remaining in the surrounding area.
We were appointed in 1996 to evaluate land outside the footprint of the former tip to the east, in 1997 to the carry out a watching brief during removal of all the landfill material, and in 1998 to excavate remains identified during the previous evaluation. The first image below shows the extent of the watching brief overlain on the 1st Edition Ordnance Survey map of the area, and indeed where the former drainage leats used to run, which we subsequently re-discovered under the landfill, though that was about as exciting as this area got unfortunately.
The evaluation in the ‘lobe’ to the east, however, was a little more productive, identifying three ditches, all containing both 1st/2nd century Romano-British pottery, and some residual prehistoric finds. Two of the ditches (1546 and 1547), though somewhat sinuous, were broadly parallel, and were likely part of a Romano-British enclosure or field system. Though of a similar period, the third ditch (1548) was definitely later, and most likely indicates a rearrangement of the field system at some point (plan and section drawings below).
The residual prehistoric material was interesting, including not only Late Bronze Age (1100-700 BC) pottery, but worked flint of both Early Neolithic (4-3000 BC) and potentially Mesolithic (8500-4000 BC) date. We were already aware of the prehistoric potential of the overall area, and a zone of high prehistoric potential further to the north was subsequently preserved in situ beneath a car park.
Oh yes, and in case you’ve forgotten, the match finished…
The Reading match was not long after a slump in our form had started, and which was largely going to continue through to the end of the season, only winning another four games in the end. Though we were never in any real danger of relegation, this was a disappointing finish, given we had been around the promotion and play-off spots for the first three months of the season. Reading were eventually overtaken by Brighton & Hove Albion, but were still promoted in second place, with Stoke City going up via the play-offs.
The U’s were captained for this game by Scott Fitzgerald, who had only been given the role in the middle of the week before. Some may recall this was following the sudden and unexpected departure of Simon Clark, who out of the blue had asked for his contract to be terminated with immediate effect, so that he and his family could go out to the Far East. Clark insisted at the time that this was a personal matter and nothing to do with Colchester United. He ended up playing three seasons with Woodlands Wellington in Singapore, and is currently Lead Youth Development Phase coach for Northampton Town.
We were, of course, going to see much more of Phil Parkinson and Jamie Cureton in the years to come, but that will be for another day I expect…
Colchester United v Wycombe Wanderers Saturday 16th November 1996 FA Cup (1st Round) Attendance 4,378
For the ninth in the Matches of Yesteryear series, and for the first time, we look back at an FA Cup match, and against our auld enemies the Chairboys. One of the stranger football rivalries it has to be said, and as most of us know, occasionally a bit ‘ahem’ lively too. Most historians agree that the origins of this rivalry date back to the first ever meeting between the two clubs, in a 1985 FA Cup 1st round match at Wycombe’s former home Loakes Park, which the U’s lost 2-0.
Steve Wignall was managing the U’s for this match, and although we had pipped Wycombe to promotion from the Conference in 1992, they had since passed us en route, and were a Division 2 (i.e. 3rd tier) side when we met. At the time, the U’s were sat solidly mid-table in Division 3, Wycombe were having a tough time in Division 2, and were in a bit of a relegation scrap at the time (losing five of their previous six league games, without even scoring a goal in any of them).
The U’s lined up at Layer Rd: 1….Carl Emberson 2….Joe Dunne 3….Paul Gibbs 4….David Gregory (Tony Adcock) 5….David Green 6….Peter Cawley 7….Chris Fry 8….Richard Wilkins 9….Robbie Reinelt (Karl Duguid) 10..Adam Locke 11..Paul Abrahams
Names of note within the Wycombe line-up included John Cheesewright in goal, who left the U’s for a spell abroad playing in the Hong Kong 1st Division, before returning to sign for Wycombe Wanderers. Wycombe also started with Steve McGavin up front, who we sold to Birmingham City for £150k two years earlier, and who then sold him to Wycombe for £175k only 23 games after that. Steve would be destined to return to Layer Rd in 1999 for two more seasons. This was Richard Wilkins’ second spell at the U’s, initially leaving us as we were relegated to the Conference (we sold him to Cambridge United for £65k).
Although quite some time ago, I recall quite a bit about this match to be honest. Me and my family had traveled over to celebrate a clutch of family birthdays that occurred in mid-November, including my dear old Mum (RIP), my eldest sister, and my god-daughter. I went to the game with my brother-in-law and his son (my nephew), and I guess because my nephew was there (he was only four at the time) we sat in the Family Area at the Clock End – which I think was one of the only times I ever sat in that stand, though I had of course stood on the wonky terraces that preceded the stand many times. Leafing through my programme whilst writing this blog, I discovered my ticket for the match inside - £7.00 for an adult – if only it were that these days!
The Wycombe supporters, and there must have been about a thousand of them, were housed at the Layer Rd end. As often happens for matches between the two clubs, the barside support was swelled with many old familiar faces, the sort you wouldn’t necessarily want to meet on a dark night, even if you supported the same team! Wycombe played towards their own fans for the first half, and it was a fairly tense even contest to begin with. Wilkins blasted just wide early on, and Steve Brown miscued shortly after to lift a shot out of the ground. McGavin was also causing problems, particularly down our left, as was De Souza in the box, and gradually the Division 2 side started to take control of the game. The pressure eventually told just before half-time, when De Souza drilled home from close range after one of those goalmouth ping-pong scrambles where no one seemed to be able to get a decent foot behind the ball.
Wycombe continued to press in the second half, with De Souza again going close, but the U’s were starting to get back into the game. Wilkins put his head where everyone else’s feet were and only just missed, there was strong penalty appeal denied when Crossley handled in the box (ball to hand apparently – yeah right!), and then a cracking volley from Reinelt that Cheesewright only just stopped with his feet. However, as if often the case, with all this U’s pressure, we were always going to be susceptible to a break, and that’s what Williams did with a one-on-one on Emberson in the 65th minute, rounding him easily to tap into the open goal.
Now we come to easily the most memorable event of the day – with the Wycombe fans celebrating in a somewhat overexuberant manner, and clearly enjoying goading the adjacent barside, some of the barside decided a frank exchange of views was needed, and entered the field of play in order to do so. With several barsiders on the pitch, and amidst the general confusion caused, Wilkins took full advantage to slot home the debut goal of his second spell for the U’s, and remarkably our referee for the day (Jeff Winter) let it stand. From here on it was all U’s, with even Twiggy getting in on the act, Adcock hit the bar and Cheesewright somehow managed to palm over Duguid’s shot on the rebound when a goal looked certain. From the resulting corner, there was another one of those mad goalmouth scrambles, during which the U’s vehemently claimed the ball had crossed the line, but it wasn’t given, and the match finally finished with Wycombe desperately hanging on to their victory.
Colchester United 1 (Wilkins 69’) Wycombe Wanderers 2 (De Souza 43’, Williams 65’)
On the walk back to the car, the general consensus of opinion was that we had probably scored from the late corner, but Winter had decided to ‘even things up’ as he should never have allowed play to proceed when Wilkins scored the first goal for the U’s. As unpalatable as it is to lose against the Chairboys, particularly at home, once we had managed to get a foothold in the game, we actually didn’t play badly at all, and certainly deserved a draw against our Division 2 opponents.
Wycombe went on to beat Barnet in the second round (after a replay), and then went out in the third round at home to Bradford City. They would go on to avoid relegation reasonably comfortably, eight points clear of the drop.
As for the U’s, this was a second consecutive first round exit (after Gravesend and Northfleet the previous season), and though we didn’t know it at the time, it was going to be another eight years before we reached the third round again. After losing out at Plymouth in the play-offs the previous season, Wignall targeted the play-offs again as a minimum achievement. He didn’t quite make it, with the U’s finishing one point and one place off (sound familiar?).
Yesterday’s well-deserved victory away to Oldham Athletic ended a tremendous week for the U’s with three clean sheets and three victories.
It was keenly contested contest, but I felt that the U’s were too classy for the Latics and a second goal would not have flattered the Essex side.
I travelled north from the West Midlands to Oldham after a family wedding which had taken place on the Friday near Shrewsbury.
I think that now the Away supporters are accommodated in the Chaddy end of the ground, it is easier both for parking and access. Attendance yesterday was 3,091 with 145 of the faithful included within that figure. More performances like yesterday will see that figure rise as the club have started to convert performances into results and are playing some decent football.
Weather was better than the forecast with plenty of warm sunshine and the merest hint of rain. The pitch was also in very good condition. In fact, the grounds that I have been to so far this season (Plymouth, Grimsby and Oldham) have all sported excellent playing surfaces.
Before we start it should be noted that Bristol City had once again benched Sammie Szmodics and he was once again an unused substitute. What a waste.
JM once again lined up as follows:
Jackson Eastman Prosser Clampin
Senior Comley Stevenson Gambin
Subs: Kensdale James Chilvers Ross Robinson Brown Cowan-Hall
Gerken was outstanding yesterday, handling good, confident saves and distribution very good. The back four look settled with Jackson playing more like a right half and the imperious Eastman never missing a header or a challenge. Now years ago, the Forest fans used to sing “You’ll never beat Des Walker” – we had a legend at the back in Pat “Rio” Baldwin, but Tom Eastman is better than both. I am looking forward to seeing him perform in the Spurs game against Harry Kane.
Now Luke Prosser had a shaky start to the season but yesterday he was back to his assured best. The fourth member is Ryan Clampin who yesterday struck a shot that whistled just over the bar. 18 inches lower and it would have been a contender for goal of the season.
Yesterday JM answered my question could Senior and Gambin play together and the answer was a resounding yes. They started right and left wings respectively and swapped sides repeatedly during the first 45.
Now despite their lowly position the Latics have some skilful and pacy players. Maouche, Fage and Wilson three examples of young players who were sharp and tested the Colchester defence.
Up front I think that Frank Nouble has never played better for the U’s. He was brilliant at Grimsby and possibly even better yesterday with power, pace and another quality strike to win the match.
Chuck Norris looks more like his old self and was unlucky with a chance yesterday which found the roof of the net.
The faithful were in good voice throughout and their rapport with both Noah Chilvers and Theo Robinson whilst they were warming up was enjoyable. Chilvers the hero from Selhurst Park and Robinson with his Southend allegiance.
The chant 1-0 to the Arsenal could well be replaced with 1-0 to the Colchester if current form is maintained.
Colchester despite the lively Oldham midfielders, bossed the first half and when Norris sent Big Frank away on the left wing, he cut inside the box drew the keeper and scored with a hard-low diagonal shot that found the bottom of the net. Just before half time but it had been coming and Colchester deserved their lead.
Big Frank struck a crane pose made famous by the Karate Kid in the film trilogy. It is debatable whether JM is Mr Miyagi but the faithful were warming to JM yesterday.
Now at half time I had the Latics meal deal, a pie and a drink for £5. The meat and potato pie was on a par with those served at Rochdale which is high praise and the coffee was ok. But it was a good deal.
No substitutes at half time for either team and second half the U’s were kicking towards the faithful. The game was following a similar pattern with Colchester successfully soaking up Oldham pressure and counterattacking with purpose. Courtney Senior had a better game and made more forward runs with purpose and lost the ball less.
I also think that Stevenson and Comley are making a decent midfield pairing and it will be interesting when Lapslie and Pell are able to return. Pell must play and Stevenson also in my opinion, but we will wait and see because JM will have a dilemma.
Now JM is notorious at making late substitutions but yesterday he got the changes right. The faithful had called for Theo Robinson and after 74 minutes JM obliged. But here was the surprise he took Gambin off thus allowing Nouble, Norris and Robinson to operate as a strike force of three albeit for a few minutes. Now after only 20 seconds on the field a lung bursting run from Courtney Senior led to a decent pass forward to Robinson but the ball went slightly too wide for a direct shot at goal, instead he was forced to spin and gather the ball before curling a superb shot which grazed the top of the bar before falling to Chuck who shot and hit the base of the post within seconds of the first strike. A second goal would have been thoroughly deserved and the faithful lapped it up.
Now I would have liked to have seen the front three seeing out the game, but JM opted to bring on Jevani Brown after 81 minutes for Chuck Norris and Paris Cowan-Hall after 86 minutes for Courtney Senior. The result was to see out the remaining minutes successfully and without incident.
At the full time whistle the players and JM came over to the faithful ensuring no repeat of the shambles at Grimsby. At last we are beginning to climb the table and the football is shaping up well.
I would like to see Theo Robinson start and he will probably do so against Gillingham on Tuesday night. He looks sharp and just the sort of striker that will complement our style of play whilst adding to the goals tally.