Brilliant goal by Norris after 90 seconds. Looked lively, also bagged a penalty, hit a post and his work rate impressed.
By contrast, Senior looked disinterested. Along with Poku the pair repeated all their routine failings. Running into dead ends; selfish; losing Gallup etc. By the time they were substituted we were losing 2-4. Neither contributed anything in defence, in a game littered with defensive errors and gifted goals. Example, Sowhumi passed to their CF inside our area. Coventry much the better side until the substitutions (Norris, Senior and Poku were withdrawn).
The youngsters then showed determination and passion taking control of the last 20 minutes, albeit Coventry carved out some good chances too. Pulled back to 4-4 and might have won it with better fortune (twice hit post etc). Might be time to give a couple of youngsters their opportunity. They can't do worse than Senior.
Have you noticed that the U's are repeatedly awful in the cold, wind, rain, but in sunshine and dry conditions can be excellent? But whatever, the weather, real fans don't wear gloves? That is because muffled thuds offer no benefit to applause and chants and hence our contribution as "twelfth man"
So why do some lazy thud players wear gloves? Goalkeeper excepted!
To me that is a sign that they don't really want to be in the pitch in poor weather, and so that proved yesterday. Like the real fans, hardy players won't wear gloves or long skin pants or socks above knees.
Yesterday, just as at windy cold Cambridge, few had a good game (except Stevenson), but those wearing gloves were the stand out "not fit to wear the shirt" candidates. So get those gloves off them McGreal and pick those that actually want to play in the rain, wind and cold. Else fans will not venture out either.
SOUTHAMPTON 1 BURNLEY 2 Burnley are now unbeaten in their past seven Premier League meetings with Southampton. Nobody got this spot-on, and just mfb_cufc had the outcome. 23 predicted a win for Southampton.
WBA 2 NOTTINGHAM FOREST 2 Forest get a 91st minute equaliser to stop West Brom from going 9 points clear at the top of the Championship. That was good news for the 2 who had this spot-on, and the 3 who got the outcome. Not such good news for the 12 who had West Brom to win 2-1 in what was the weeks most predicted score.
CARDIFF 2 WIGAN 2 Cardiff closed the gap on the Championship play-off places despite being held to a draw. No points for anybody from this game with 27 predicting a win for Cardiff.
MIDDLESBROUGH 0 LUTON 1 Luton made it back-to-back wins in the Championship and ended a run of 12 away defeats in a row with the only shot on target in the game. Nobody got this spot-on, and only 2 had the outcome. 25 predicted a win for Middlesbrough.
SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY 0 READING 3 10-man Wednesday have now gone six league matches without a win. Nobody got this spot-on, and just TheHappyGooner had the outcome. 20 predicted a win for Wednesday.
BRISTOL ROVERS 2 BLACKPOOL 1 Rovers ended their 14-match winless run as they came from behind to beat 10-man Blackpool. A magnificent 7 had this spot-on, and another 5 got the outcome.
IPSWICH 4 BURTON 1 A first win in five matches for Ipswich as Burton take their winless run to six. Nobody got this spot-on, but 21 did have the outcome.
OXFORD UNITED 0 SUNDERLAND 1 Sunderland secured their seventh victory in nine games. It was also their seventh clean sheet in their last eight matches. A magnificent 7 had this spot-on, and a further 11 got the outcome.
PLYMOUTH 2 CREWE 1 Plymouth were another team to come from behind to win as they ended the four-match winning streak of promotion rivals Crewe. A massive 11 got this spot-on, and 7 more had the outcome.
STEVENAGE 0 SALFORD 1 Stevenage remained seven points from safety following this latest defeat. A great 8 had this spot-on, and a further 11 got the outcome.
Storm Dennis made sure all today's games were played with strong winds and heavy rain affecting them. At least all our 10 games survived the conditions, but they produced a mixed bag of results. Five games had some shock results and only produced 13 points between them, but that was more than made up with the other five games going very much to form, and we ended with a decent return of 35 spot-ons in total. Considering there was only five games producing a 3 pointer it was a great effort from basher2010 to get four of them, the wins for Bristol Rovers, Sunderland, Plymouth and Salford, and with two outcomes he is this weeks top scorer with a brilliant Gerryesque 14 points. Three members also did well to have three 3 pointers, they were mfb_cufc and thrillseeker who both had the wins for Bristol Rovers, Sunderland and Plymouth, with the former getting a superb 12 points, and the latter an excellent 10 points. The third being noah4x4 who got the wins for Bristol Rovers, Sunderland and Salford to also give him an excellent 10 points. Best of the seven members to get two 3 pointers was BFG who had the 1-0 wins for Sunderland and Salford, and three outcomes to give him a very decent 9 points.
Champions League The competition starts on 18th February, and just Daniel and Blue4U2 are to post their predictions before the Tuesday 20.00 deadline.
In the Premier Another excellent week for noah4x4 extends his lead to 33 points, and is now very long odds on to be the first member to win back-to-back Premier titles, and at the same time create a new record for 3 pointers in a season currently standing at 38. Having the Salford 1-0 spot-on made sure Sector4 held onto second spot, and getting the wins for Bristol Rovers and Salford spot-on has sevebalo returning to the final Charity Shield spot after one week away. A third double-figure score for the season keeps thrillseeker well in contention for a top three finish. "Is the bubble about to burst" said gerry_us. Well after a solid 6 points I would say not quite yet. A seasons best score for mfb_cufc moved him a couple of places. Having the 2-1 wins for Bristol Rovers and Plymouth spot-on helped to move eagledares out of the bottom three.
In Division One Having the Salford 1-0 spot-on maintained a healthy lead for Blue4U2, but there is now a new member in the other automatic spot as the brilliant top scoring effort from basher2010 moves him up four places into there. After getting the 1-0 wins for Sunderland and Salford spot-on Daniel has to settle for a close third this week. Two more 3 pointers, the West Brom 2-2 and the Bristol Rovers 2-1 keeps Lewis_1 well in contention for a first season promotion. As does GOSBTS, who had the Plymouth 2-1 spot-on to remain in the play-off places, along with blueeagle who also benefited from having the Plymouth 2-1 spot-on. Further down the league the very decent week for BFG raised his hopes of making the play-offs. Two 3 pointers for gsy163 and durham_exile will give them hope as well. In the latter's case it is for the second week running, and the decent 8 points were needed to raise his spirits after earlier events at Vale Park. A decent 8 points also for burnsieespana, as he keeps his good recent run going.
THE TABLES (204 out of 280 played) (Tie-breaker: Most 3 pointers, and then the first to post)
Week 29 Fixtures
CRYSTAL PALACE v NEWCASTLE UNITED LEICESTER CITY v MANCHESTER CITY (17.30) CHARLTON ATHLETIC v LUTON TOWN FLEETWOOD TOWN v PORTSMOUTH NEWPORT COUNTY v BRADFORD CITY NORTHAMPTON TOWN v EXETER CITY
So, after a disappointing result at Port Vale, our mission is clear, and has three simple objectives:
Objective #1 - stay in the Play-Offs Pretty straightforward really, with goal difference on our side, we just have to do as well as the best performing team below us. Currently, and realistically, that means Northampton and Bradford City, with Forest Green 6pts adrift at the moment. We've still to play away at both of those two, which makes those games absolutely massive. If it proves necessary, we also have the luxury of FGR at home for the last game of the season.
If we manage that...
Objective #2 - finish 4th or 5th Much trickier - Plymouth and Cheltenham both have two games in hand, and Plymouth might be too far ahead to be caught already. However, we still have Cheltenham at home to come, win that and we'll be right on their heels. The Play-Offs are a complete lottery, but if I had the choice, I'd rather go into the second leg of a semi-final, knowing what we had to do, at home.
If we manage that...
Objective #3 - pinch 3rd place Dreamland, obviously - it would need us to win almost all of our remaining fixtures. I thought 80pts might be enough, Durham thought 82pts, and I reckon it'll be somewhere around that mark - certainly not less than 80pts. If we accept that our games at Bradford and Northampton are must-win because of Objective #1, and we win all of our remaining home matches, that's eight victories. Notwithstanding what teams around us do to each other, that leaves us needing a couple of good results at Salford, Carlisle, Newport or Walsall.
Stranger things have happened - I'll be there at Salford to see how the run-in starts.
JM takes his inconsistent U’s to Vale Park today for another key game in the battle for Promotion from League Two. Inconsistent because after their long unbeaten 16 game run, they have recently defeated Swindon and Plymouth but inexplicably lost to Cambridge and Grimsby.
It is this puzzling dilemma that most concerns me as a Colchester United supporter. Looking purely at League Games, we have played 33 games, won 13 drawn 13 and lost 7 with a GD of +16 and 52 points.
We lost 5 out of the first 14 league games and then have only lost 2 out of the last 19 games (but of those disturbingly have lost 2 out of the last 3 games).
We now embark upon the first of 13 cup finals with 7 Away games and 6 Home matches. In total we will have played 56 League and Cup games this season.
Our magnificent Carabao Cup run will have garnered £1M in the coffers. The transfer deals brought in almost another net £1M after the Brown transfer. So, it has already been a successful season, but if we fail at the last and languish in the basement league for another season it will have been a failure.
The 13 “Cup Finals”
Port Vale A Salford A Cheltenham H Carlisle A Scunny H Crewe H Newport A Mansfield H Bradford A Northampton A Oldham H Walsall A FGR H
They will of course determine our fate this season. Colchester must still strive for one of the top three positions. The Play Offs are a lottery and we can do without squeaky bum time in April/May.
Swindon 33 63 Crewe 32 61 Exeter 32 60 Plymouth 31 57 COL U 33 52 Northampton 32 52 Cheltenham 31 51 Bradford 33 51 Port Vale 33 51
Today we travel to another promotion contender Port Vale at Vale Park Burslem. John Askey’s side have only lost one of their last six games but will be without three players today all serving suspensions. James Gibbons the second of a two-game ban, Mitchel Clark the first of a three-game ban and talisman Tom Pope a one game ban for two yellow cards in their win on Tuesday at FGR. Ill discipline could cost them for this big game today against the Super U’s.
However, forget all about the players who will not be playing, it is the XI that take to the field that need concern us. Port Vale, like Cambridge and Grimsby have all hit form as they take on the Super U’s. Frankly there are no easy games and we will have to play superbly well between now and FGR (last game) to garner sufficient points to achieve a top three position. We probably need 30 points from 13 games, a tall order but 82 points should be enough for third position.
JM is still frustrated by the fact that Paris Cowan-Hall is out. Tom Lapslie has now picked up an injury playing against the Farmers U23. He says that one or two other players are carrying knocks. Worrying times indeed.
We now know what our best starting XI is:
Jackson Eastman Prosser Bramall
Harriott Stevenson Nouble
But it is the optimum use of those from the subs bench that will ultimately determine our success or otherwise:
JM must use all his 18 squad players and probably two or three other fringe players. It was unfortunate that we failed to bring in another striker or a replacement for Jevani Brown despite stating that we would.
The weather in Burslem today will be 10 degrees Celsius with rain and a stiff breeze (the Start of Storm Dennis). The pitch will drain well (it was laid on tons of crocks from the pottery factories) and it is big at 114 x 77 yards. The last time I went to Port Vale it was also very wet and we prevailed 2-1. I believe we will do the same today in similar conditions.
Safe journey to those travelling and enjoy the game.
Today is all about three points and getting our promotion wagon back on track.
Well, here we are going through the exhilarating highs and despairing lows of what it is to follow the U’s rollercoaster journey this season – one wonders what Saturday will bring, apart from yet another storm (Dennis this time). Vale Park is a tough enough place to go at the best of times, so will howling winds and lashing rain be the great leveller for the U’s? We shall see, but in the meantime, how about we go back to a time when our perennial concentration around this time of the season always seemed to be at the wrong end of the table, maybe put things a little bit into perspective…
Northampton Town v Colchester United Saturday 24th April 1999 Nationwide Football League Division 2 (Tier 3) Attendance 6,146
Match #44 of the series, and we go way back to 1998/99, and at the tail end of what was our first season back in Nationwide League Division 2 (that’s Division 3 in old money). Steve Wignall had left in January, with Mick Wadsworth taking over, and despite a fairly ropey time in March and early/mid-April we were doing just enough to avoid getting sucked into the relegation dogfight. Northampton Town weren’t quite as fortunate, sitting in the fourth and final relegation slot. They weren’t by any means adrift, and had been on a fairly decent run through April, but desperately needed points from their last four games if they were to escape.
Always a pleasant surprise when I find these things, as this is another match that I discovered I still had my ticket stub for - £10.50, nice! Mind you, I needed one, as the match (certainly for the U’s supporters) was an all-ticket affair – the U’s had been allocated 800 tickets, and over 500 had been sold by the middle of the week before, with most of the rest expected to go by close of sales at 5pm on the Friday.
I travelled over to this match on the train, meeting up in Northampton with my brother-in-law Steve, his parents Joyce and Dennis, and my nephew and niece (Steve had bought my ticket for me). I’m not 100% certain, but I think we met at the Sixfields Pub – I know they don’t normally allow away fans in, but I know I’ve been there once, and pretty sure this was the occasion. Given the significance of the game for both clubs, there was a very decent crowd that day, with the allocated 800 places more or less filled by the noisy faithful from Essex, and all in excellent voice. I know Joyce and Dennis were very rare travellers for away games, so that gives a measure of the level of support for the U’s that day.
Northampton Town were at the time managed by our very own Ian Atkins, who had spent a season at the U’s as player-manager failing to get us out of the Conference at the first attempt. His career thereafter was a largely unsuccessful mismatch of player-manager, player-coach and assistant manager appointments at various clubs, including Birmingham City, Cambridge United and Doncaster Rovers. He eventually arrived at Northampton Town in 1994 – where he finally hung up his playing boots – and had already managed the Cobblers to two Wembley appearances (winning one) and promotion to this league.
That Mick Wadsworth was developing a penchant for Frenchmen is nought but a scurrilous rumour, but having already signed Stephane Pounewatchy, Fabrice Richard and Steve Germain, he had added a young 17-year old Thomas Pinault (from AS Cannes – same club as Steve Germain) to the squad during the week leading up to this game. Pinault had gone straight into a reserves game at Oxford United on the evening of the day he signed, though didn’t make the matchday team for this game. Also not on the team sheet was talismanic and mercurial Lua Lua, who thanks to a moment of madness at Burnley on Easter Monday, was starting a three match ban for the straight red card he’d earned. With points vital to ensure survival, that was not a smart move…
Before we get to the match itself, we encountered a very sorry ‘health and safety gone mad’ moment, whilst queuing to get into the ground. Steve’s elderly and quite frail parents (sadly no longer with us) had a small bottle of water each to take into the ground. Regrettably, the stewards were having none of it, and insisted that they had to be either drunk there and then or tipped out on the floor. All very unnecessary, and quite distressing for Steve’s parents to be honest, but that’s jackboot stewarding for you.
And so to the match. Whilst there was much about the day and matters leading up to the game that I remember very well, there’s hardly a thing about the actual match itself I can recall. If anyone else has any recollections of the game, I’d be delighted to hear them – might even flush out things I’d thought I’d forgotten.
What I do know from the stats is that Paul Buckle got us off to the perfect start, scoring in just the third minute, with Dave Savage equalising in the 18th minute. Then came the Tale of Two Penalties – Carlo Corazzin converted from the spot just before halftime to put the Cobblers 2-1 up in their quest to avoid relegation. Not to be outdone, Warren Aspinall returned the compliment from the spot straight after halftime (in front of the travelling faithful), to bring the U’s back level – and great merriment in the away end.
With an hour gone, Wadsworth was the first to mix things up, making a double substitution – David Gregory for his brother Neil, and Doogie replacing Abrahams. Not sure if that really worked at the time, as Northampton restored their lead a few minutes later when Lee Howey scored their third. However, something must have eventually clicked, because substitute Doogie again levelled the scores in the 71st minute.
It was then Atkins’ turn to try to change things to their favour, making his own double substitution in the 80th minute, bringing Ally Gibb and Duncan Spedding on. However, the U’s held firm, and after sacrificing Jason Dozzell for the young Steve Germain in the 87th minute, we held on for a 3-3 draw – almost there for the U’s, a point really not enough for the Cobblers.
Northampton Town 3 (Dave Savage 18’, Carlo Corrazin 41’p, Lee Howey 63’) Colchester United 3 (Paul Buckle 3’, Warren Aspinall 47’p, Karl Duguid 71’)
This game marked a number of milestones for Colchester United – it was both Paul Abrahams' and Neil Gregory’s last appearances for the U’s, and as it turns out Paul Buckle’s last goal for us as well. The vital point gained left us one point short of the magical 50-point mark. Not quite mathematically safe at the time, that would come the following Tuesday night at home to promotion chasing Bournemouth.
Remarkably, although Northampton Town went unbeaten for all of April and May ’99 – nine matches in a row – there were only three victories in that lot, and they couldn’t garner enough points to avoid relegation. Ian Atkins carried on in charge into the following season, but after a poor start finally left in October 1999.
Wadsworth, after decimating the club (and the team spirit) over the summer, thankfully resigned in August 1999. After a reasonably positive start to his managerial career at Carlisle United and then Scarborough, his time at the U’s would probably be considered by neutrals broadly as a success – certainly compared to the dismal litany of failure that followed. Just goes to show that stats aren’t everything…
After the euphoria of that famous victory over Plymouth Argyle at the weekend, it is back to League business at the JSCS this evening when Ian Holloway brings his Mariners to Town. Now it would be easy for our team to switch off after deservedly earning three points at the weekend, but there is much to be done to keep pace with the top three sides.
Earlier in the season I went to Blundell Park with Gerry and after enjoying fish “n” chips at Papas on Cleethorpes Pier, we watched the U’s throw away a two-goal lead to eventually draw 2-2. It was literally a game of two halves, where Nouble and Norris deservedly cemented a 2-0 lead at half time only for the U’s to gift a penalty early in the second half and then to concede the equaliser with only three minutes remaining.
This evening there can be no sentiment or concession made, it is all about being ruthless and putting the Mariners to the sword. I predict 4-0 to the Super U’s.
I was delighted that JM played the dream midfield on Saturday and he must replicate that line up this evening:
Jackson Eastman Prosser Bramall
Harriott Stevenson Nouble
In truth this XI is probably our strongest position by position at present and in Ben Stevenson we have the ideal replacement for Jevani Brown at number 10. More importantly though we should have played all three in midfield some weeks ago (as I have been saying), but JM does like his wingers. However Senior and Gambin are often better as impact players from the bench. Kwame Poku may also be better and stronger next season (don’t forget he is a prodigious talent and still only 18) possibly at number 10, we will see.
Ross Sowunmi Senior Clampin Poku Norris Gambin
It would be encouraging to be able to identify a firm timeframe for Paris Cowan-Hall to make an appearance after his injuries, but perhaps Easter might be the optimum time. He has been missed.
FGR v Port Vale, Northampton v Swindon and Salford v Plymouth are all intriguing games this evening. The “Vegans” have slipped off the pace of late and the Valiants are hitting some form (just before we play them this weekend at Vale Park). Similarly, Salford have invested in more attacking options recently (Darron Gibson and James Wilson, both ex United) before we play them at the Peninsula Stadium on Saturday week. So, the tough games keep coming but if we can keep our form going then promotion beckons.
Remaining League fixtures after tonight:
Port Vale A Salford A Cheltenham H Carlisle A Scunthorpe H Crewe H
Newport A Mansfield H Bradford A Northampton A Oldham H Walsall A FGR H
Weather tonight will be 4 degrees Celsius and breezy but dry. After Storm Ciara things are settling down for a day or so before the cooler temperatures return.
Hopefully the crowd will be buoyed by Saturday’s victory.
It was noted that Saturday’s stunning defeat of promotion rivals Plymouth Argyle was the first time we had beaten them since our League Cup victory back in 2003. Well our record against tomorrow night’s opponents Grimsby can challenge that – if you’re wondering ‘not another Tuesday night trip to Blundell Park’, the last time we played at Grimsby on a Saturday was also back in 2003…and the last time we won there? Over 40 years ago believe it or not, on 22nd September 1979, winning 2-1 thanks to two goals from Trevor Lee, with the U’s managed by none other than Bobby Roberts on that day.
Brentford v Colchester United Wednesday 1st January, Tuesday 18th February and Tuesday 11th March 2003 Nationwide League Division Two (Tier 3) Attendance 0 (January), I have no idea (February) and 3,990 (March)
Ahead of yet another vital game on Tuesday night we have something of an oddity and a bonus in the Matches of Yesteryear series – three games for the price of one – and as we’re currently being battered by Storm Ciara, quite an appropriate selection as well. Match #43 of the series is actually a trilogy, the U’s taking three attempts to finally complete their much weather-affected league fixture at Griffin Park in the 2002/03 season. What’s even more bizarre was that each attempt was under a different manager for the U’s.
#1: January 1st 2003 The first go was New Year’s Day, the U’s at the time managed by Steve Whitton. Em and I had travelled up to London on New Year’s Eve, joining revellers in various bars around Westminster and Waterloo before gathering at the foot of Big Ben to cheer in the new year. The plan for the next day was twofold, Em was meeting friends for lunch, then doing a bit of sight-seeing and shopping, I was meeting my Brentford supporting mate Nick for a few beers and the game. Em and I had an absolutely brilliant night on the streets of London, something we’d never done before, and enjoyed it immensely!
It had been quite wet in the days leading up to the match, and although relatively dry whilst we’d been out and about in the evening, it then proceeded to pour down throughout the night. We awoke in our Waterloo hotel somewhat bleary-eyed, to a text message from Nick “Match postponed – waterlogged pitch”. Though disappointed that my afternoon of beer and football was up the creek, I was of course absolutely thrilled that it allowed me to share some memorable shopping experiences with Em (yay me). Not surprisingly, I don’t have a programme for this match, and I’d guess most if not all ended up in landfill – but if any survived, they’d probably be quite a collector’s item these days.
#2: February 18th 2003 Attempt no. 2 a month later, and with Whitton since departed, the U’s were being caretaker-managed by Geraint Williams, winning his previous two matches away at Bristol City and home to Mansfield. Determined to give it another go, me and Nick arranged to meet up before the game in the Royal Oak. My company had a major excavation going on at the time, ahead of the development of Heathrow T5, so a bunch of colleagues also turned up to watch the game. Although all neutrals as far as support was concerned, they were quite content to sit in the covered New Road stand with Nick, rather than share the pleasure of the Ealing Road open terrace on a freezing night with me and a hundred or so other hardy souls. I’ve no idea what the attendance was, and I can’t find it published anywhere – Brentford were averaging about 5.5-6k easily at home, but there was no way the crowd that night was anywhere near that.
There had been a pitch inspection late in the afternoon, and although there were concerns about the icy conditions, referee Phil Crossley had decided to let the game go-ahead – much to the delight of Soccer AM’s resident ladette and Torquay celebrity fan Helen Chamberlain. Long-standing Griffin Park stadium announcer Peter Gilham was booked to be away on holiday for the rearranged fixture and needed someone to stand in. Completely by chance, he saw Helen Chamberlain on Soccer AM state she had always wanted to be an announcer at a football ground, so he contacted her to see if she’d stand in, and she jumped at the chance.
For the record, the U’s line-up at kick-off was Brown, Stockley, Fitzgerald, White, Chilvers, Duguid, Pinault, Izzet, Keith, Williams and McGleish, with substitutes Morgan, Bowry, Atangana, Baldwin and McKinney. Amongst others, Rowan Vine was on the pitch for the Bees. The conditions were exceptionally icy underfoot, with players struggling to keep their feet, particularly in the shadow of the main Braemar Road stand on the south side of the ground. In a difficult first half, it was really the U’s who were adapting better to the conditions. Brentford goalkeeper Paul Smith had to be on his toes to save a number of decent efforts from the U’s, and late in the half Scott McGleish hit the post with a good strike. It wasn’t all U’s though, with Simon Brown denying Kevin O’Connor when he was clean through, and O’Connor putting another decent opportunity over the bar.
However, not only was the icy pitch difficult to start with, the temperature was plummeting and the conditions actually deteriorating as the half progressed. With the score 0-0 at halftime, the referee carried out another inspection and decided enough was enough and the game had to be abandoned. Unfortunately for Helen Chamberlain, the announcement came just as she was getting into her stadium announcer opportunity, and despite her entreating us all to stay and listen, we rapidly filed out of a frozen Griffin Park for the welcome warmth of nearby pubs. Brentford club historians reckoned it had been the first match at the ground that was actually abandoned in over 35 years – tough break Helen.
#3: March 11th 2003 And so, finally, on to attempt no. 3 in March, this time under new manager Phil Parkinson. Now I think (because there have numerous visits to Griffin Park over the years) that this was when I first met up with a suited and booted Whalebelly, in the New Inn – our meeting was definitely an evening game at Brentford, and the timing feels about right for this year, but maybe you can remember more Whales? I’m fairly certain my mate Nick wasn’t available for this match, because I think he was back at Lampeter University at the time – but I may have got the two crossed, and I met Whales at no. 2 and Nick at no. 3?
Perhaps understandably, at this stage Brentford had abandoned any effort to produce yet another full matchday programme, and instead printed off what was little more than a team sheet – two pages of double-sided A4, stapled and folded into an A5 programme – they still had the temerity to charge £1 for it though!
The U’s lined up: 31..Richard McKinney 25..Sam Stockley 5….Scott Fitzgerald 19..Alan White 26..Johnnie Jackson 7….Karl Duguid 10..Kem Izzet 17..Bobby Bowry (Thomas Pinault 71’) 3….Joe Keith 11..Dean Morgan (Micky Stockwell 63’) 9….Scott McGleish
All things considered, compared to the weather-related contexts of the previous two attempts, my memory of this game is quite vague, but at least I’m fairly certain that this time it wasn’t raining too heavily, or too cold, or snowing, or blowing a storm or any other metrological event that might challenge a football game. This was Parky’s fourth game in charge, and after winning his first two matches on the back of some decent results from George as caretaker, the U’s were pulling away from the relegation zone. Brentford, under Crazy Gang founder member Wally Downes, were solidly mid-table, a few points and places ahead of the U’s, and with no real likelihood of either the play-offs or relegation. This was Johnnie Jackson’s debut for the U’s, signed by Parky initially on a one-month loan from Spurs, literally that day I think – certainly so recently that he isn’t even listed in the match ‘programme’.
I certainly remember the match was a reasonably even game, perhaps possibly (with my Col U blue-tinted spectacles on) the U’s marginally the better team. However, it was Mark McCammon of Brentford who broke the deadlock with 8 minutes to halftime, thinking literally on his feet to chest the ball past McKinney. The jury’s out on whether it was an inspired cross from Mickael Antoine-Curier, or a wayward shot, but McCammon saw his chance and took it well.
The game livened considerably into the second half, with the U’s pushing hard for an equaliser, and Brentford clearly just as keen to get that two-goal insurance buffer. Doogie very nearly equalised with less than 20 minutes to go, beating the goalkeeper Paul Smith, but his effort was brilliantly cleared off the line by Kevin O’Connor. In the last Matches of Yesteryear blog (Southend v U’s) I reflected on one of the more blatant penalties not given – for this game, it’s probably the other side of that coin. In the 84th minute referee Phil Crossley spotted defender Lee Fieldwick handling the ball in the penalty area – I say spotted, but too be fair there didn’t appear too many others who had spotted it. Brentford players surrounded Crossley protesting the decision (Vine I think was booked for his troubles), whilst Joey Keith calmly prepared himself for the spot-kick. A minute or so later, it was 1-1, we were celebrating like maniacs, and that’s pretty much how, for the third time of asking, the match finally finished.
Brentford 1 (Mark McCammon 37’) Colchester United 1 (Joe Keith 84’p)
You can usually tell from the post-match comments what those involved really thought about game-changing moments, and Parky had this to say “Over the 90 minutes we fully deserved to take something out of the game and whether it was a penalty or not we'll take it". Make of that what you will…
It’s worth reflecting briefly on the remarkable career of Peter Gilham. He has been the Brentford stadium matchday announcer since 11th October 1969, and in over 50 years has only missed two matches – their January 2006 FA Cup third round victory over (then) Premier League Sunderland, and the abandoned match against the U’s. Known as Mr Brentford by supporters, Gilham has no intention of retiring, and will move with the Bees to their new stadium next season.
Jon Varney, Brentford’s Chief Executive, stated “It would have been unthinkable for us to leave Griffin Park and Peter Gilham behind. It will be one of the strangest days of all of our lives when we leave this old place but we are only a mile up the road. We are not tearing up our roots and those roots include Peter Gilham – he is Mr Brentford. It’s just not the Brentford way to contemplate leaving people like Peter behind”.
In a football world awash with TV money, obscene salaries, virtually zero loyalty at all levels, and supporters increasingly feeling alienated by and disconnected from the clubs they grew up supporting, it’s things like this that gives you hope for the future – well done Jon Varney, well done Brentford FC and well done Peter Gilham!
HUDDERSFIELD 2 QPR 0 Huddersfield moved six points clear of the Championship relegation zone as they condemned QPR to a third straight loss. Well done to TheFatGooner for being the only to get this spot, and a further 19 had the outcome.
LUTON 0 CARDIFF 1 Lee Tomlin's third goal in four games keeps Luton rooted to the bottom as Cardiff moved to within four points of the Championship play-off places. 3 had this spot-on, and another 12 got the outcome.
AFC WIMBLEDON 1 FLEETWOOD 2 Paddy Madden's late winner saw Fleetwood make it back-to-back League One victories for the first time since September. A sublime 9 got this spot-on, and a further 7 had the outcome.
SHREWSBURY 1 MK DONS 1 Ex-U's loanee Rhys Healey gets the equaliser for MK Dons. Only 2 had this spot-on, and nobody got the outcome.
LEYTON ORIENT 1 MACCLESFIELD 1 Jacob Blyth salvaged a point for Macclesfield with a 91st minute equaliser. That late goal was good news for the 3 who got this spot-on, and 1 more had the outcome.
MORECAMBE 1 MANSFIELD 1 An 86th minute goal from Alex Kenyon earned Morecambe a valuable point. That late goal means a magnificent 7 had this spot-on, and again 1 more got the outcome.
The Wimbledon game was the only to have goals in the first-half, and although the other five games had goals in the second-half, it was late ones that made a big difference to the final scores this week. In the end we had three 1-1 draws, as the good run for that score continued, making it 12 of them in the last 5 weeks. Someone who has taken full advantage of this particular score recently is gerry_us, and he cashed in again this week by having all three. By also getting the Fleetwood 2-1 spot-on, and outcomes on the other two games, he gets a top scoring absolutely brilliant 14 points, in what must be a record for a six game week. Beating the 13 achieved by RSCOSWORTH in Week 24 this season. Another member to have benefited from the 1-1 recently is Colukev, and he had the ones at Shrewsbury and Orient this week to give him a decent 7 points. Best of the other four members to get two 3 pointers was GOSBTS, who had the Fleetwood 2-1 and the Orient 1-1 spot-on to give him a superb 8 points. The other three members all got a decent 7 points, they were Blue4U2 and durham_exile, who both had the Fleetwood 2-1 and the Morecambe 1-1 spot-on, and TheFatGooner who got the Morecambe 1-1 spot-on to go with his good Huddersfield 2-0 pick.
Happy Cup The fixtures for the semi-finals are now ready for predicting. Plenty of time though as the deadline is 2nd March. All details on the separate Happy Cup thread.
In the Premier Having the Cardiff 1-0 spot-on enabled noah4x4 to increase his lead to an impressive 28 points over Sector4. With less than 100 games left to the season I think the bookies would probably pay out now on him winning the title. But you never though after the run this weeks star performer gerry_us has put together lately. After Week 20 he was bottom with 64 points and looked almost certain to be relegated being 22 points from safety, and without a 3 pointer for 66 games. But in the seven weeks since then he has accumulated 55 points, that includes 14 spot-ons, in what must be the biggest turnaround of form ever seen in the Happy League. In the same period noah4x4 has managed 26 points. More of the same could see gerry-us as his main challenger for the title. In the meantime he is up three places this week, and within 3 points of a Charity Shield spot. That final place is occupied now by TheFatGooner after his decent week moved him up the highest position he has ever been. At the other end of the scale only 3 points in the last four weeks has mfb_cufc suddenly finding he is involved in a relegation scrap. But with only 18 points separating 2nd to 2nd from bottom, nobody can feel safe at the moment.
In Division One A decent week for Blue4U2 has seen his lead increase to an impressive 13 points. Just outcomes for Daniel again, but he remains in the other automatic spot. He is coming under pressure now though as the superb week for GOSBTS moved him up to a seasons best third, and within a point of the top two. A spot-on each for Lewis_1 and basher2010 maintains their play-off places along with blueeagle. Another one to benefit from having the Fleetwood 2-1 spot-on was wessex_exile, and he moves up a place and within a point of the play-offs. Further down the league a decent score for durham_exile completes a good day for him after his beloved U's impressive victory. The league is suddenly split in half, with a 7 point gap from the top half to the bottom. But after the recent exploits of gerry_us it will give hope to everyone that the play-offs could still be possible if they can put a good run together as well.
THE TABLES (194 out of 280 played) (Tie-breaker: Most 3 pointers, and then the first to post)
Week 28 Fixtures 10 games picked by this weeks guest unitedwhites
SOUTHAMPTON v BURNLEY (12.30) WEST BROMICH ALBION v NOTTINGHAM FOREST (12.30) CARDIFF CITY v WIGAN ATHLETIC MIDDLESBROUGH v LUTON TOWN SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY v READING BRISTOL ROVERS v BLACKPOOL IPSWICH TOWN v BURTON ALBION OXFORD UNITED v SUNDERLAND PLYMOUTH ARGYLE v CREWE ALEXANDRA STEVENAGE v SALFORD CITY
After last week’s debacle at the Abbey Stadium and the end of our 16-game unbeaten run, the U’s are back on home soil for a double header with Grimsby in town on Tuesday, but before that we play the potential league champions Plymouth Argyle.
Argyle, the Green Army have recently started to play and have games in hand over Swindon Town, but they are not the finished article. I went to the reverse fixture at Home Park on 10th August and it was one of those games when the better team lost. Also, their team and their odious supporters were insufferable at the final whistle and one would have thought that they had already won the league such was the elation.
Now I should say from the outset that I have never taken to Plymouth as a football club, probably going back to the days when Neil Warnock was in charge and when they defeated us in the Play Off semi-finals. No bitterness though! Although at the start of this season we were due to sign Joel Grant from Plymouth, but at the eleventh hour he changed his mind and signed a new contract with the Devon club. When he was injured at Home Park against us, I didn’t show any sympathy and I notice that he is currently warming the bench most games.
Ryan Lowe left Bury after their promotion at the end of last season and took most of the better players to Plymouth and they were expected to take League Two by storm. Until recently they have been indifferent, but their purple patch has arrived at exactly the right time.
Lowe has been playing mind games about the fitness of Antoni Sarcevic (who scored the only goal against us in August) and Josh Grant – regardless of what he is saying I expect them both to play or at least be on the bench tomorrow. What Lowe cannot do anything about is his captain defender Gary Sawyer, who was red carded last week against Newport County. And will miss the next three games.
We are also likely to meet up against Joe Edwards again who played for us for one season and became a fan’s favourite. He also played against us in August.
Still enough of Plymouth, tomorrow is now all about three points for the U’s. A difficult game but one that has now become vital in our attempts to achieve promotion. I reckon we can prevail 2-0.
I would play the following team tomorrow in a 4,3,3 formation:
Jackson Eastman Prosser Bramall
Stevenson Pell Comley
Harriott Norris Nouble
Subs: Ross Sowunmi Clampin Poku Senior Gambin Robinson
The back four pick themselves but it is the midfield where we need to strengthen. Last weekend Pell and Comley were isolated and lost control of the centre of the park. Playing the three together will not only strengthen that key area of the pitch but also allow the players to have a sight of the goal because Ben Stevenson when he was here the first time scored some cracking goals and now never gets an opportunity. Likewise, Harry Pell is capable of scoring from outside the box.
This formation takes cognisance of JM’s love of wingers because there is still a place for Callum Harriott and Big Frank on the respective wings with Chuck in the middle. The bench still contains defenders, midfield, wingers and a striker. Let no one forget that our failure to bring in a striker and replacement for Brown and the departure of Junior to Israel leaves us short of strikers. JM cites Jake Hutchinson, but I have yet to see him play and although I have seen Hasanally and Kensdale play neither are what you would call regular starters.
Paris Cowan-Hall faces an uncertain future at the club, and he appears to have been singularly unlucky with injuries which is a shame because when he played against Spurs, he looked the real deal.
Otherwise what we have we must stick with now until the end of the season.
The league table looks less rosy after that damning defeat at Cambridge, but we are not out of it yet:
“…Parky couldn’t quite keep the momentum from September going in the league, and we finished 11th at the end of the season. However, for the entertainment of the faithful, he was just about to embark with the U’s on two successful runs in both the FA Cup and the LDV Vans Trophy, the latter just about to start the following Tuesday (14th October) at Cheltenham”.
Prophetic words it turns out to close Matches of Yesteryear #41…
Southend United v Colchester United Tuesday 17th February 2004 LDV Vans Trophy (Southern Area Final Second Leg) Attendance 9,603
Little did I realise that my closing comment on the previous blog would be a signpost to this match, but there you have it – the random match selector seems to have a habit of doing this sort of thing. Match #42 of the series, and we come to the end of our LDV Vans Trophy cup run of 2003/04, away at Roots Hall in the Southern Area Final Second Leg. I have already covered the First Leg (Match #17), and indeed that splendid ‘Silver Goal’ victory at Sixfields (Match #7) in the Southern Region Semi-Final.
For many of us, this match followed straight on from our long trip to Sheffield United on the previous Sunday, to watch our brave U’s go out of the FA Cup in the 5th Round, losing 1-0 to Colin’s Blades in a game they really deserved more from. For me, it was my fifth game in barely a month, stretching back to that memorable Tuesday night FA Cup 3rd Round replay against Accrington Stanley in mid-January – Em and Alfie’s first and only trip to Layer Rd, though the lad didn’t know much about it at the time, as he wasn’t to be born for another eight months.
So what constitutes a ‘cup run’, is there a recognised metric to define performance in a cup competition as such? I’m not aware of one myself, but I’d say any run of four or more matches ought to be about right. On that basis, I’d reckon that the LDV Vans Trophy cup run of 2003/04 is probably unique for me, as I’d managed to be at all six matches – helped enormously by the accident of geography that the first two rounds were games at Cheltenham and then Yeovil.
Southend at the time were struggling near the foot of Nationwide League Division 3, and at considerable risk of relegation out of the football league. The U’s were mid-table in Division 2, with an outside chance of possibly sneaking the play-offs with a decent run of results. However, being more than a division apart hadn’t made much difference in the 1st leg, with the U’s losing 3-2 at Layer Rd, leaving themselves lots to do at a packed-out and as usual hostile Roots Hall. This wasn’t just my first visit to Roots Hall since our Boxing Day 2-0 victory back in our Conference relegation season of 1989/90, this was the first visit since then for Colchester United as well.
This was school half-term week, so with my eldest two away at their mums, and Em working away on the Isle of Wight (after Alfie’s first 10-week scan on the Monday), I was free to be able to travel over to Essex for this match, popping in to see my youngest sister before the match (she lived then on Colchester Road, right next to Roots Hall) and staying at my Mum’s overnight. I met up with my brother-in-law, nephew and niece for the game, to join a pretty much full away end of vociferous U’s supporters – as usual happily exchanging pleasantries with the South Essex bottom-feeders. I remember the following day the Gazette carried a very full match report, together with plenty of photos, a few of which also captured the four of us in the stand behind the goal, but sadly I didn’t keep a copy for posterity – but then again, why would I?!
The U’s lined up:
1….Simon Brown 22..Greg Halford (Rowan Vine 61’) 19..Alan White 18..Liam Chilvers (Wayne Brown 45’) 25..Sam Stockley (Gavin Johnson 81’) 7….Karl Duguid 6….Thomas Pinault 10..Kem Izzet 4….Joe Keith 9….Scott McGleish 12..Craig Fagan
The Blues at the time were managed by Steve Tilson, who had taken over from our very own Steve Wignall during November. Appointed by Ron Martin, his task was made clear to him on day one, avoid relegation at all costs, and they were just starting to pull clear by the time of this match. On the pitch that night were a host of players we have grown to hate over the years, including Kevin Maher, Tes Bramble and Drewe Broughton. Carl Emberson, bought in by Wignall, was on the bench as the reserve keeper, indirectly losing his place as the No. 1 to Darryl Flahavon after just seven matches of the season.
As for the match, well it couldn’t have started better for the U’s, with Southend’s one goal advantage wiped out in just the third minute. Determined to take the game to the Blues from the outside, McGavin and Izzet exchanged passes in the home penalty area, with diminutive midfielder Kemi poking home from close range to send the away end into bedlam. With the match no level, and away goals not counting, we were in fine voice, and the U’s responded with wave after wave of attacks.
However, Southend had already been showing their resilience in the league, and were gradually working their way into the game, giving as good as they got. As you might imagine, with so much at stake against fierce local rivals, the game had quite a feisty edge to it too, with both Lewis Hunt and then Sam Stockley booked in the first half. In the third minute of first half injury time they got their reward, when Broughton, who also clipped the post with a fierce drive, smashed one past Brown to level the scores on the night, and restore their one goal advantage.
The second half was a bit of a disappointment, with the game descending into a niggly messy affair, with no team really getting on top. Parky bought on Wayne Brown for Liam Chilvers at halftime to tighten up the defence, and for his second debut at the U’s. The competitive edge was still there, with Craig Fagan, Kevin Maher, Alan White and Jamie Stuart also picking up bookings during the half. Broughton wasted an excellent chance to put the Blues 2-1 up on the night, heading over when it looked easier to score, but the miss of the night was for Tes Bramble, who made a right mess of his chance from only six yards. He nearly made amends five minutes later with a rasping 25-yard effort, but Brown performed miracles to save it.
In the final ten minutes, we threw the proverbial kitchen sink at Southend, with Doogie in particular going close on a couple of occasions. However, the seminal moment came in the 3rd minute of injury time, when Izzet was flattened in the box for a clear penalty – clear to everyone that is apart from referee Mike Ryan, who was having none of it. Absolute mayhem followed, with U’s fans spilling over on to the pitch, stewards desperately trying to maintain order, and I’m pretty sure Izzet (and possibly also McGleish) booked for their protests. However, all to no avail and the match finished 1-1, with Southend victorious 4-3 on aggregate over the two legs.
Southend United 1 (Broughton 45+3’) Colchester United 1 (Kem Izzet 3’)
So Southend progressed to their first major final appearance, though at the Millennium Stadium not Wembley, facing Steve McMahon’s Blackpool in front of 34,031 supporters. McMahon had won this competition two seasons earlier with Blackpool, and they ran out comfortable 2-0 winners on the day, with an early goal from Murphy, and a second from Coid ten minutes into the second half.
As there’s little else to chuckle about – missing out on a cup final appearance to our fiercest local rivals, let’s remember a happier moment from our battles through the ages…
Quite frankly I’m sick and tired of hearing about someone who was a bit player at best but people seem to have forgotten that we did not release him. We offered him contract and he chose not to sign it because we couldn’t guarantee him first team football so he left. Not because we didn’t want him but because he chose to leave. It’s worked out well for him but it’s taken time and who’s to say it wouldn’t have worked out even better had he stayed here but that we’ll never know.
I challenge anyone on here to come up with five players that we’ve released over the last 15 seasons that have gone on to better things. I’m struggling to come up with four! The vast majority of times the club gets it right with the players they choose to release and Bonne was one they wanted to keep but HE CHOSE TO LEAVE just like Kinsella, Lua Lua, Cureton, Iwelumo, Halford, Danns, Jackson, Moncur, Gilbey, Szmodics, Kent and Vincent Young.
There is an announcement on the OWS about the Hall of Fame. The Former Players' Association Hall of Fame committee will be adding in their own choice, but supporters can vote for their legendary U's player to be inducted in 2020. Two players chosen by the fans will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this season, and nominees must be retired from professional football and have played over fifty first team games to be eligible.
To cast your vote for your chosen player, please contact the club on firstname.lastname@example.org with the name of your nomination (I assume it's one vote per supporter).
HALL OF FAME CURRENT INDUCTEES 2006/07: Micky Cook, Tony English, Brian Hall, Mark Kinsella, Peter Wright 2007/08: Tony Adcock, Dick Graham (Manager), Bobby Hunt, Vic Keeble, Martyn King, Reg Stewart 2008/09: The remaining members of the 'Leeds 1971' team: Bobby Cram, Ray Crawford, Brian Garvey, Brian Gibbs, John Gilchrist, John Kurila, Brian Lewis, Mick Mahon, Dave Simmons, Graham Smith 2009/10: Percy Ames, Mick Packer, Mike Walker 2010/11: Bob Curry, Kem Izzet 2011/12: John Fowler, Roy McDonough, Steve McGavin 2012/13: David Gregory, Steve Leslie 2013/14: Joe Dunne, Nicky Smith 2015/16: Duncan Forbes, Karl Duguid 2018/19: Steve Foley, Ian Allinson
There are plenty of names I could think of, I just wonder if the club would be prepared to bend the rules slightly this year and include Chris Barker (he only played 39 times for the U's)?
Anyone who nominates Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe will be first against the wall come the revolution...