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Jake Hutchinson
at 19:44 21 Mar 2020

I have read plenty of interesting and positive comments about the young striker but would be grateful for the SP from any boarders who have seen him play.

At 17 he will be looking to break into the first team squad and did travel to Morecambe when we played them at the Globe Arena.

Up the U's
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Frozen in time - League Two fixture postponements following COVID-19
at 11:10 16 Mar 2020

COVID – 19 Update

After a scintillating victory at Brunton Park last Saturday for JM’s 200th game in charge of Colchester, we would have returned to the JSCS for a double header with Scunny coming to Town on Saturday and table toppers Crewe the following Tuesday night.

Now of course the Coronavirus is rightly concentrating minds at present and JM has already come out and stated that he would rather see postponed games than playing them behind closed doors. So, he fully supports the line taken by the FA and the EFL and UEFA. Which is the only game in Town.

A reminder of the symptoms associated with Covid-19

Fever – Common
Fatigue – Sometimes
Cough – Common usually dry
Sneezing – No
Aches and pains – sometimes
Runny or stuffy nose – Rare
Sore throat – Sometimes
Diarrhoea – Rare
Headaches – Sometimes
Shortness of breath – Sometimes

As things stand Colchester, in common with other teams will not play their games until the beginning of April, but this is a fast-evolving scenario and advice might change daily.

Position remains as follows:

Remaining fixtures:

Crewe 1st – 9 to play
Mansfield A
COL U A
FGR H
Port Vale A
Northampton H
Newport H
Bradford A
Grimsby H
Cambridge A

Swindon 2nd 10 to play
Oldham A
Stevenage A
Crawley H
Salford H
Walsall A
Mansfield A
Cheltenham H
Morecambe A
Orient H
Macclesfield A

Plymouth 3rd – 9 to play
Morecambe A
Orient A
Exeter H
Grimsby A
FGR H
Walsall A
Northampton H
Oldham A
Port Vale H

Exeter 4th – 9 to play
Salford H
Scunny H
Plymouth A
Bradford H
Cheltenham A
Morecambe H
Mansfield A
Carlisle H
Orient A

Cheltenham 5th – 10 to play
Cambridge A
Macclesfield A
Grimsby H
Newport H
FGR A
Exeter H
Swindon A
Crawley H
Stevenage A
Salford H

Colchester United 6th – 9 cup finals to play
Scunny H
Crewe H
Newport A
Mansfield H
Bradford A
Northampton A
Oldham H
Walsall A
FGR H

Northampton 7th – 9 to play
FGR A
Carlisle H
Cambridge A
Oldham H
Crewe A
COL U H
Plymouth A
Bradford H
Newport A

Port Vale 8th – 9 to play
Crawley H
Bradford H
Oldham A
Crewe H
Carlisle A
Grimsby H
Cambridge A
Newport H
Plymouth A

Bradford 9th – 9 to play
Orient H
Port Vale A
Macclesfield H
Exeter A
COL U H
FGR A
Crewe H
Northampton A
Walsall H

Table top nine:

Crewe 37 69
Swindon 36 69
Plymouth 37 68
Exeter 37 65
Cheltenham 36 64
COL U 37 58
Northampton 37 58
Port Vale 37 57
Bradford 37 54

Regardless of how we feel about the cessation of Football, the overriding message must be stay safe and follow Government Scientific advice.

Good Health remains Number One.

Up the U’s


[Post edited 16 Mar 16:37]
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Colchester overwhelmed the Cumbrians at Brunton Park
at 15:08 8 Mar 2020

So, the 200th game for JM in charge resulted in a victory at Brunton Park. Not so much a victory more total domination in a very one-sided affair in Cumbria.

And in a nutshell that is our predicament this season. Great performances and results interspersed with abject and lacklustre games resulting in defeats and immense frustration from supporters whether armchair or the travelling faithful alike.

Yes, Carlisle were a poor team, but they had tasted defeat only once in the last 9 games and had the benefit of returning injured players to their team. The old maxim you can only play the opposition that lines up against you is always a truism!

Anyway, more of that to come. I allowed myself the luxury of stopping off in Penrith for supplies and fuel. The M6 was light and Warwick Road in Carlisle was much better now that the road works have largely been removed.

Arriving at the ground I turned in only to be told the car park had been flooded and was closed. Fortunately, the Riverside car park (and still only £3) was open and I parked there.

The programme (first one for three games after failing to secure a programme at Salford, Cambridge or Stevenage) was a double header (like Morecambe did recently) covering both Colchester and Newport who come to Carlisle on Tuesday night.

The meat and potato pie and tea cost £4.70 and the pie was hot with decent pastry and filling whilst the tea was wet and warm. The plastic fork had strong tines and did the job of opening the crust without problem.

The faithful numbered 146 out of a crowd of 3,769. The singing elements were split between the youngsters who stood in the front and the more mature element who sat near the back of the stand. The Pioneer Stand is a large stand with more than sufficient rows to challenge someone with vertigo and yesterday the stewards were preventing us from sitting in line with the 18 yard box and my position was therefore Row T seat 162 and more or less in line with the 6 yard box.

Those to my right would have been watching from slightly behind the goal line. Nevertheless, the elevated position allows a good view of the entire ground. It is many years since I have stood behind the goal, at the Petteril End. I think the last time we stood was when Carlisle beat us 3-1 and a youthful Karl Duguid scored a consolation goal for the Super U’s.

Now there is always a partisan crowd at Carlisle (notably in the Paddock) spurred on by the stuffed fox that is brought out without fail every home game by the Mascot Olga the Fox.

The pitch was looking good a little sparse but plenty of green colour and despite the rain that had fallen during the week it was holding up well. The breeze was blowing left to right across the pitch.

Luke Prosser won the toss and elected to play towards the faithful in the first half which was the right decision.

JM had decided upon the following line up for his 200th game.

Gerken

Jackson Eastman Prosser Bramall

Harriott Pell Stevenson Poku

Norris Nouble

The subs bench comprised:
Welch-Hayes Comley Clampin Ross Robinson Gambin and Senior

Tom Eastman looked keen and well rested after his time on the bench whilst Omar Sowunmi played whilst Ben Stevenson was my Man of the Match, brilliant and gave a real midfield masterclass.

It was good to see Miles Welch-Hayes albeit only in the warm up.

The first 15 minutes was quite cagey, but Colchester you sensed were growing into the game with more purpose and endeavour. Callum Harriott and Kwame Poku were seeing plenty of the ball and the defence and Dean Gerken were largely untroubled.

I should state that Omani Patrick who wore number 40 for Carlisle caught the eye. Pacy and impressive on the wing he faded second half but that was because service to him dried up. He would make an interesting addition to the U's squad next season.

Chuck Norris tried a soft shot which he mishit and followed that with a speculative shot from distance which Keeper Collin parried away. The impressive Cohen Bramall adds to his transfer value every week. He looks impressive with a cultured left foot an eye for goal and takes a wicked free kick.

His opportunity arrived some 25 yards out and he struck the free kick well, but Collin managed to tip it over the bar. On 41 minutes Kwame Poku curled a delightful left foot shot into the far corner of the net and past the despairing dive from Collin. Cue delirious scenes amongst the faithful. It was no more than Colchester deserved and it was to get better only two minutes later when another corner was headed in at the near post from two yards out by Chuck Norris.

2-0 at half time and the Cumbrian natives were restless with plenty of boos as the players left the field of play. I saw Noah and shook his hand at HT, he said the journey North had taken 7.5 hours with suitable stops for refreshments.

I tried a hot chocolate which wasn’t too bad and settled down for the second half.

Colchester were very much in the ascendancy and Carlisle were trying hard but without the ability to make any real progress. Harry Pell is an enigma; he played the role of defensive midfielder yesterday whilst Ben Stevenson controlled the passes spraying the ball both left and right whilst freeing Poku and Harriott down both wings.

Whilst Cohen Bramall is allowed the freedom to advance and get forward at any opportunity, Ryan Jackson seems to have lost some of the wanderlust that he possessed earlier in the season. I wonder if his earlier injury has curtailed his attacking prowess.

Big Frank had a quiet day by his standards, whilst Chuck Norris had clearly tucked into a 32 oz T-Bone steak pre match such was his full bloodied approach to the game.

Although the game was very much Colchester’s to lose, it was over as a contest when the third goal went in. A neat interchange on the edge of the box on 59 minutes saw Poku strike the ball which spun wickedly and nestled into the right-hand corner of the goal.
Colchester looked to add to the tally but played comfortably within themselves whilst various sections of the home crowd sought an early exit. Poku tried for his hattrick but mishit a shot after having done the hard work.

Carlisle bizarrely had two players who saw themselves as Jack Grealish and Gareth Bale lookalikes. Harry McKirdy wore the number 11 shirt and operated with rolled down socks and short shin pads. Any other resemblance to Grealish was sadly lacking. Jack Bridge meanwhile wore his hair in a Bale style, but didn’t trouble the Colchester defence at any stage.

JM made some substitutions as the game wore on. Harriott was replaced by Senior on 82 minutes whilst Norris was replaced by Theo Robinson on 85 minutes and the hardworking Poku was replaced by Luke Gambin on 88 minutes.

In my view JM missed a golden opportunity to play young Miles Welch-Hayes at either Full Back or Centre Back for the last ten minutes.

Those from Carlisle who were still in the stadium at full time (90 +4 mins) booed the home team. Colchester celebrated on the pitch and JM came over to take the applause from the faithful. A thoroughly professional performance which earned the reward of three big points.

Table:

Crewe 37 69
Swindon 36 69
Plymouth 37 68
Exeter 37 65
Cheltenham 36 64
COL U 37 58
Northampton 37 58
Port Vale 37 57
Bradford 37 54
Salford 37 50

Although I have included Salford in tenth place, I think they have too much to do to secure a top seven place, but you never know!

My journey home took in some fish n chips from the noted chippy in Brough.

Back to back home matches to come and time to turn on the home performances to maintain our position in the top seven. I intend to update the remaining fixtures for the top nine before each preview game.

In the meantime, Up the U’s


[Post edited 8 Mar 23:00]
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Old boy haunts the Black Cats
at 10:42 8 Mar 2020

"Mika Mandron came from France
The English press said he has no chance
£50,000 down the drain, as Mika Mandron scores again."

A brace for Gillingham at the Stadium of Light yesterday

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Cumbrians to be outfoxed by the Super U's at Brunton Park
at 21:31 6 Mar 2020

JM and his charges must put the disappointment of their performance and result against Cheltenham to one side and instead, for his 200th managerial game in charge, find a way to grind out a positive result at Brunton Park Carlisle on Saturday.

JM age 47 has managed 199 games for Colchester since taking over from Kevin Keen with 74 wins, 55 draws and 71 losses, a win percentage of 37.

As a player he made 489 appearances – 233 for Tranmere between 1990-99, 150 for Ipswich Town from 1999-2004 and 106 for Burnley between 2004-07.
Congratulations on the milestone JM, let’s make sure it is remembered with win number 75.

The table is beginning to suggest five teams vying for the top three automatic promotion spots whilst the other 4 teams are jockeying for the two remaining places in the top seven and therefore play off positions.

Swindon 35 69
Crewe 36 66
Plymouth 36 65
Exeter 36 65
Cheltenham 35 63
Northampton 36 58
Port Vale 36 56
COL U 36 55
Bradford 36 54

Quite simply two will miss out altogether and if we do make the top seven then the semi final and final will not be easy games. I reckon Northampton and Port Vale will miss out and the top three at present will go up automatically, therefore the play offs will be contested by Exeter, Cheltenham, Bradford and Colchester.

We will play Cheltenham and Exeter will play Bradford. Colchester and Bradford will meet at Wembley. Maybe time for my medicine!!!!

Remaining fixtures:

Swindon 1st 11 to play
FGR H
Oldham A
Stevenage A
Crawley H
Salford H
Walsall A
Mansfield A
Cheltenham H
Morecambe A
Orient H
Macclesfield A

Crewe 2nd – 10 to play
Stevenage H
Mansfield A
COL U A
FGR H
Port Vale A
Northampton H
Newport H
Bradford A
Grimsby H
Cambridge A

Plymouth 3rd – 10 to play
Macclesfield H
Morecambe A
Orient A
Exeter H
Grimsby A
FGR H
Walsall A
Northampton H
Oldham A
Port Vale H

Exeter 4th – 10 to play
Walsall A
Salford H
Scunny H
Plymouth A
Bradford H
Cheltenham A
Morecambe H
Mansfield A
Carlisle H
Orient A

Cheltenham 5th – 11 to play
Port Vale H
Cambridge A
Macclesfield A
Grimsby H
Newport H
FGR A
Exeter H
Swindon A
Crawley H
Stevenage A
Salford H

Northampton 6th – 10 to play
Mansfield H
FGR A
Carlisle H
Cambridge A
Oldham H
Crewe A
COL U H
Plymouth A
Bradford H
Newport A

Port Vale 7th – 10 to play
Cheltenham A
Crawley H
Bradford H
Oldham A
Crewe H
Carlisle A
Grimsby H
Cambridge A
Newport H
Plymouth A

Colchester United 8th – 10 cup finals to play
Carlisle A
Scunny H
Crewe H
Newport A
Mansfield H
Bradford A
Northampton A
Oldham H
Walsall A
FGR H

Bradford 9th – 10 to play
Salford A
Orient H
Port Vale A
Macclesfield H
Exeter A
COL U H
FGR A
Crewe H
Northampton A
Walsall H

Anyway, enough of the fixtures it is still in our own hands, but we must garner a minimum of 20 points to guarantee a top seven place.

Carlisle are beginning to play under Chris Beech and they also have had good news this week about injuries. Losing Hallam Hope to Swindon was a blow to them but they have adapted well.

Colchester faithful will be aware of that famous game in April 2013 when we had to win at Brunton Park and did so 2-0 under Joe Dunne. However, I remember an even better performance and victory under (and whisper it Paul Lambert before he went over to the dark side) it was 2009 and we also won 2-0 that day. We controlled the game from start to finish and won at a canter.

The match that we do not talk about was in December 2018 when we lost 4-0 in horrendous conditions and my younger son and I had to drive back along the A69 and down the A1 because the A66 was blocked by snow.

Tomorrow I reckon we will prevail 2-0 (our favourite scoreline).

Now JM only has long term absentee Paris Cowan-Hall missing even Tom Lapslie and new boy Miles Welch-Hayes are fit and could feature. Omar Sowunmi is suspended of course.

No messing about tomorrow 4,4,2:

Gerken

Jackson Eastman Prosser Bramall

Poku Pell Stevenson Harriott

Robinson Norris

Subs:

Welch-Hayes Gambin Senior Ross Nouble Comley Lapslie

Carlisle weather looks like 10 degrees Celsius tomorrow with rain showers and occasional sunny intervals. Not as breezy as normal in Cumbria, however.

10 games to play and it is all about whether we want promotion or not. The talking has got to end, and we must start to obtain the results that we require, otherwise it will be another season of failure.

Safe journey to the travelling faithful, hopefully the A66/ M6 will behave itself. Certainly, the weather today after a frosty start has been relatively mild and sunny.

Up the U’s


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League Two promotion race
at 11:10 3 Mar 2020

This evening we have three intriguing fixtures

Exeter v Crewe
Plymouth v GRIMsby
Swindon v Scunthorpe

Swindon 34 66
Crewe 35 65
Exeter 35 64
Cheltenham 35 63
Plymouth 35 62
Northampton 36 58
Port Vale 36 56
COL U 36 55
Bradford 36 54

Let us be clear we are looking to secure 20 more points to guarantee a top seven finish.
Whilst the situation still remains in our own hands and feet nevertheless we remain rightly interested in other team's results and will do until the last games of the season.

A draw for Exeter and Crewe and defeats for Plymouth and Swindon would be the best case scenario this evening but realistically any points dropped by our competitors between now and the end of April should be warmly welcomed.

We need to win up to 7 of our last 10 games starting at Brunton Park on Saturday.

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Robins to have their wings clipped at the JSCS by Super U's
at 17:12 28 Feb 2020

After last week’s thoroughly deserved victory at Moor Lane against Salford City, the Super U’s are playing hosts to Cheltenham Town, who played Northampton Town on Tuesday night and secured a 2-1 victory in front of JM, SB and Harry Pell. The Robins are playing very well, and this should be an intriguing encounter at the JSCS.

Cheltenham played 4,4,2 on Tuesday, something like this:

Evans
Raglan Boyle Long Hussey
Broom Thomas Tozer Doyle-Hayes
Reid May

Of the playing staff the one player that I cannot stand is Reuben Reid. A slightly corpulent figure he invariably does well against us (he always did for Exeter) and I will be pleased if he is quiet at the JSCS.

It looks increasingly like 7 from the top 9 for the vital automatic and play off positions.

Swindon 34 66
Crewe 34 64
Exeter 34 63
Plymouth 34 62
Cheltenham 34 60
COL U 35 55
Northampton 35 55
Port Vale 35 55
Bradford 35 51

So, a vital game on Saturday and one of our 11 Cup Finals. Now forget all about the opposition, every game from now will be difficult, exacting, challenging and momentous in equal measure before the FGR match. We will secure points at some games and may drop points at others, but so will our opposition, as the pressure starts to bear.

A total of 33 points up for grabs and 20 will guarantee the play offs, 30 possibly an automatic spot. The latter will require almost superhuman effort, but it is still mathematically possible.

Cheltenham H
Carlisle A
Scunny H
Crewe H
Newport A
Mansfield H
Bradford A
Northampton A
Oldham H
Walsall A
FGR H

Cheltenham, led by Michael Duff, will be formidable opponents and have hit form at the right time. Tomorrow will demonstrate whether we have corrected our “wobble” and are back on track. We drew 1-1 at Whaddon Road earlier in the season, but three points are required tomorrow.

JM made a brave call at Salford and played 4,4,2 I would adopt the same formation and personnel tomorrow, but there are question marks over the fitness of Ryan Jackson, Chuck Norris and Callum (Ainsley) Harriott after the robust challenges that all three were subjected to at a sodden and wind-blown Moor Lane.

Gerken

Jackson Sowunmi Prosser Bramall

Poku Pell Stevenson Harriott

Robinson Norris

Subs:

Ross Clampin Gambin Senior Nouble Comley Eastman

Moore or Welch-Hayes could be deployed if Jackson is not fit and Senior would come in for Harriott if he is unable to play.

The more times I watch the Kwame Poku goal at Salford the better it looks. A superb piece of play and he would have almost matched it had his strike that went narrowly wide of the upright had gone in minutes later.

Although it may not be popular, I would rest Tom Eastman again. Not because he has suddenly become a bad player, but Omar Sowunmi was simply outstanding against Salford and Tom Eastman will benefit from the rest. It is the reason why we have a squad of players and JM must utilise them well over these energy sapping games on heavy and difficult pitches.

Twin strikers with Big Frank on the bench worked well against a physical Salford side and I expect that Cheltenham will also play with two up front and so although they are not such a physical side, they are nevertheless a good footballing side and matching up formations is highly recommended on Saturday.

The weather tomorrow is likely to be 7 degrees Celsius and breezy with sunshine and up to a 30% chance of precipitation. We have had sleet, snow, strong winds, rain and power cuts in Durham this week so anything else will be a bonus in North Essex.

The 430 supporters who made the journey last week will hopefully have liked what they saw and should be joined by up to 3,600 others to produce a 4000+ crowd at the JSCS including 250 from Gloucestershire. The game deserves it and a Colchester victory will cheer the faithful after the disappointment of the Grimsby home match.

Enjoy the game. Safe journey.

Scoreline: 3-1 to the Super U’s

Up the U’s


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Jevani Brown
at 20:19 24 Feb 2020

I am beginning to think that I got Jevani Brown's ability wrong.

Whilst I kicked up a fuss when we loaned him to promotion rivals FGR at Christmas they have since gone into terminal decline.

And what of Brown. Well he has started 10 games, 6 of which he has substituted in.

He has also appeared on the bench 6 times.

This of course is for both Colchester and FGR. I suspect that when his loan is up he will return to Colchester and then we must decide what is going to happen to him.

I do not understand because whilst at Cambridge he was hailed as the prodigal son and his ability was being touted in high places.

There have been rumours of attitude behaviour etc. I am not sure what future he has at our club or whether we will be able to recoup some or all of the £315k that we paid for him.

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Super U's prevail against the Ammies at Moor Lane
at 10:44 24 Feb 2020

Saturday witnessed another double this season, after the earlier game at the JSCS where we won with a last-minute goal, the Super U’s eked out a creditable and deserved 2-1 win at the Peninsula Stadium Moor Lane Salford. This result however was due to a brilliant first half and then a stubborn backs to the wall performance in the second half in atrocious conditions at the ground.

The pitch had been subject to two inspections, the first at 0900hrs when the referee considered it was playable albeit the grounds staff had reservations. JM was keen to play, and the staff worked on the surface to create a pitch that passed muster at 1300hrs for the second inspection. I had watched the weather and twitter feeds and by that time my son and I were well down the motorway.

We arrived in good time at the Park n Ride which offered excellent value for money. £2 per car and then onto the bus provided by Swans Travel. It was a 7-minute bus journey to the stadium and the bus dropped us about 50 yards from the Away entrance. Tickets were available on the gate at £10 adults and £5 concessions. Other clubs note no increase in process on the day.

Despite the changeable weather on the way down there was a quiet dry spell before the heavens opened just before kick off and the brisk wind blew the strong showers into the faces of the faithful behind the goal and in the small allocated seating area to the immediate right of the corner flag.

We had time to gather a meat and potato pie each with a tea and a cone of chips – total cost £11.50. The pies were good with plenty of filling and helped keep the cold at bay.

I was sporting my new padded Macron coat (a birthday gift from my youngest son) and the perfect day to blood the apparel. I quickly saw Wessex and Noah in the faithful support of 430 in a crowd of 2,589.

My son had played at Moor Lane whilst at University over 12 years ago and it has of course been developed since those non-league days. The Away end now consists of covered terracing but of course the prevailing wind was blowing the weather straight into their faces. The small seated area similarly was getting the brunt of the weather courtesy of the wind.

The opposite side is all seating and then the well populated Home end is standing only. The side that we were seated is also all seated with a segregated area and contains the executive boxes where the Class of 92 sit when in Town. My only moan I couldn’t get a programme but there is one online to download.

The ground capacity is just over 5,000, the flood lights are shaped in the club badge style and the Pogues song “Dirty Old Town” is played immediately before the teams come out onto the playing surface.

I wish we would revert to the Post Horn Gallop at Colchester but that’s another argument.

The Stewards were in evidence but were professional in their duties and we waited for the game to start.

Graham Alexander was of course buoyed by their EFL Trophy result against the Exiles on Wednesday night and we wondered whether that would spur them on or distract them. I suspect that they were encouraged by the result.

JM had suggested changes and he certainly delivered. I had called for a change of keeper, but he stuck with Gerken (don’t get me wrong I think that he had been consistent and an asset, but Ross offers a very good back up and should be afforded another opportunity in due course). The changes were interesting though.

Gerken

Jackson Sowunmi Prosser Bramall

Poku Pell Stevenson Harriott

Robinson Norris

Subs:

Nouble Comley Eastman Clampin Gambin Senior Ross

Now I know that some boarders expressed surprise at Eastman’s omission, but Omar Sowunmi put in a man of the match performance and with Kwame Poku showed great enterprise and commitment.

Two strikers were exactly right, it was not a day for Senior or Gambin, the pitch was too heavy. Whilst the wings were reasonable the middle and just the other side of the half way line were like a quagmire and as the match wore on the rain opened the surface creating some difficult and challenging areas of the field.

Colchester were attacking the end populated by the faithful in the first half and this was right. The best of the weather occurred during the first 30 minutes. Salford are a workman like side they have spent well and have several good additions to the side. Recent acquisitions include James Wilson and Darron Gibson both former Manchester United players. Wilson has been dogged with injuries and Gibson has battled to overcome his demons.

They started brightly but our defence was relatively untroubled, and Colchester began to settle to the conditions. Jackson and Bramall were seeing a lot of the ball down both wings and Poku was growing into the game. Ben Stevenson was imperious in the midfield and Harry Pell was putting in a commanding performance full of commitment and effort.

On 27 minutes Poku picked up the ball about half way into Salford territory after a pass from Stevenson and ran going around three defenders before the ball took a wicked bobble but he stabilised it and struck a superb left foot shot powerfully into the left-hand corner of the net from his perspective. When watching the goal back on the highlights you can hear the instruction "take him on" when Poku picks up the pass and that's just what he did. Cue wild celebrations amongst the faithful. It was simply sublime and the best goal that I have seen this season from a Colchester player.

Even better he celebrated with his teammates in the corner not 5 yards from where we were sitting.

A deserved lead and you could see what it meant to the players, who celebrated in style and ensured the supporters understood their commitment made in testing circumstances. All the emotion from Grimsby and Port Vale came pouring out. In truth we were good value for the lead and seconds later the effervescent Poku could have scored again bending a delightful left footed effort just wide of the left hand upright.

Colchester in the ascendancy and with justification.

As the half wore on the occasional shower descended, borne in the wind and the wind certainly howled around the stadium. The trees peeking over the far side of the ground give the stadium a leafy look and stood like sentinels in the grim conditions.

Cohen Bramall had a trade mark free kick which went just over the bar, but we would have been justified had another goal gone in at this stage.

After 41 minutes Robinson fed the pacy Harriott on the left wing. Now what Callum (aka Ainsley) Harriott did well on Saturday was to cook up an impressive performance of wing play without the tricks and flicks. It was a day for direct action and his pace undid the Salford defence. He unleashed a thunderbolt from 30 yards which tore into the far-right hand side of the goal deceiving the keeper Letheren. 2-0 and we were in dreamland, but it was deserved.

Unfortunately, just on half time Salford got the ball down to the touchline and it seemed to squirt under Bramall and along the line to the waiting Ash Hunter who tapped home from three yards out. So, 2-1 but we remained optimistic.

The showers abated at half time which allowed the faithful to gather refreshments.

Now second half of course Colchester were defending the end where the faithful were standing and sitting. No substitutes had been made but the weather had taken another turn for the worse and the rain had a mix of sleet and hailstones in it. Nasty.

Colchester were also being forced back by a spirited Salford team who were seeking an equaliser. Although they huffed and puffed, I was never convinced that they would manager to score but the pitch only made things more difficult. The conditions continued to deteriorate, and our defence went deeper, and we were operating with only one striker at this point.

Omar Sowunmi made an outstanding goal line clearance to prevent an equaliser and this was a commanding performance from the man mountain. I had previously seen him at Moss Rose when we played out a 1-1 draw, but this was a confident and assured performance from a man who will be required for the 11 cup finals still to play.

The referee was weak and missed some challenges which the conditions could not excuse. On 73 minutes Callum Harriott was fouled badly by Touray who was booked but could have seen red for the challenge which raked the back of Harriott’s leg. After some minutes he was replaced by Big Frank Nouble and he then spent the next minutes walking painfully with support from the Physio staff around the pitch to the dugout.

Almost immediately JM brought on Brandon Comley for Theo Robinson which was the right shout because we had dropped deeper, and we risked another injury. When Jackson was also fouled and had to go off after 85 minutes, he was replaced on the right side by Tom Eastman. We essentially had five at the back for the closing minutes with Eastman, Sowunmi, Prosser, Bramall and Comley with Stevenson and Pell and Big Frank operating on the wing. Chuck Norris was injured and limped around for the incredible 9 minutes of added time that the Referee identified. This was increased to 10 after Norris received treatment.

In the last-minute Thomas-Asante rose highest, but his header was over the bar and we had prevailed. The team had seen it out for a victory which will give confidence and endeavour in equal measure for the games to come. The conditions were horrendous and the U’s toughed it out in a game that they simply had to win.

Great celebrations greeted the final whistle. Waiting for the bus to take us back to the Park n Ride we saw the two Colchester coaches depart and then got talking to some Danish supporters who had come over for the Manchester United on Sunday. They explained that about 40 of them had made the journey and when in town they take in a Salford game and then a United game the same weekend. They were all transport to their hotels by Uber taxis. Whilst waiting another shower of sleet and rain descended and we were pleased to get on the coach and then our car.

We travelled to the nearest eatery which was a TGIF near to the M60 Motorway. Unfortunately, there was no food because the kitchens were closed. So, we stopped at Deepdale Retail park on the way home in Preston and went to Frankie and Bennies. PNE had beaten Hull 2-1 and the ground was still bathed in floodlights when we arrived at the retail park.

It was good to get home and enjoy the victory. Next game Carlisle Away in a fortnight but the JSCS hosts Cheltenham next Saturday in a vital game.

Top seven:

Swindon 34 66
Crewe 34 64
Exeter 34 63
Plymouth 34 62
Cheltenham 33 57
COL U 35 55
Northampton 34 55
Port Vale 35 55

11 cup finals to play:

Cheltenham H
Carlisle A*
Scunny H
Crewe H
Newport A
Mansfield H
Bradford A*
Northampton A*
Oldham H
Walsall A*
FGR H*

Exciting times ahead.

Up the U’s


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Prediction Logged by at 22:39:35
Salford City v Colchester United prediction logged
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U's to leave Salford City redfaced after another double this season
at 20:42 21 Feb 2020

After their abject performance at Vale Park and on the back of successive defeats JM takes his charges to Moor Lane, AKA the Peninsula Stadium tomorrow.

But travellers beware, there is a Pitch Inspection at 0900hrs as a result of the volume of rainfall in the Manchester area. The all-important weather forecast for Saturday is continuing light rain with 8 degrees Celsius and some bright interludes.

I believe it would be better for the U’s if the game doesn’t go ahead. Whilst that would be disappointing for all supporters, we have had enough of wet and sodden pitches of late and perhaps things might improve for the Cheltenham home game next week.

I know that means a rescheduled game on a Tuesday night, but frankly the weather has been grim up north this week. The one exception was yesterday when my car was serviced and MOT’d at the garage at the quaintly named village of Pity Me near Durham City. The weather was dry and bright at times. But otherwise the rainfall and strong winds have continued all week. And as I pen these musings at home, the rain is very heavy and the wind strong and fearsome.

Let us be honest and say that Automatic Promotion has now gone. It is up to the U’s to battle to secure a play off place. 12 games and 36 points but frankly we still need 21 to confirm a top seven finish and 31 for automatic promotion. Recent form with three defeats in five games confirms that is a nonstarter.

The 12 “cup finals” of which we realistically need to win 7 games or equivalent to garner the 21 points or so that we need. The difference being the three games that we have lost recently.

Salford A (Inspection at 0900hrs on Saturday)
Cheltenham H
Carlisle A
Scunny H
Crewe H
Newport A
Mansfield H
Bradford A
Northampton A
Oldham H
Walsall A
FGR H

The top three places will probably be occupied by Swindon, Exeter and Plymouth, but I am sure Crewe will have a say in the final placings.

Swindon 33 63
Exeter 33 63
Crewe 33 61
Plymouth 33 61
Cheltenham 32 54
Port Vale 34 54
COL U 34 52
Northampton 33 52

Salford 34 44 (11th place)

The free weekend, if Salford does fall foul of the weather, will enable the other teams to catch up with games and thus the table will have a more accurate look.

Tomorrow League Two selected games:

Crewe v Macclesfield
Newport v Bradford
Northampton v Exeter
Plymouth v Cambridge
Swindon v Grimsby
Walsall v Port Vale

Now the good news. We have signed Miles Welch-Hayes from Macclesfield Town until the end of the 2021/22 season. A versatile defender aged 23, he will offer options at right or left back and possibly Centre Half. Welcome Miles.

Big spending Salford City Reds, the Ammies, led by Graham Alexander, provide the possible opposition tomorrow. They have just booked their EFL Trophy Final place at Wembley against Pompey after a 6-5 penalties win against the Exiles on Wednesday.

They have brought in Darron Gibson and James Wilson, both previously of Manchester United to supplement top scorer Adam Rooney with seven goals.

The disappointment last week was the manner of the defeat. Seasoned U’s supporters have seen it all before. The fact is that we have a slump in form every season and this is undoubtedly a slump. The unbeaten run had become an albatross around our necks, but three defeats in five games is simply unacceptable.

The players must respond accordingly. Simple as.

JM has hinted at changes, but I believe these are limited. Paris Cowan-Hall is sorely missed, and it is unlikely that he will be back until the final three or four games.

I would go with the following tomorrow, weather permitting:

Ross

Jackson Eastman Prosser Bramall

Pell Stevenson Comley

Robinson Norris Nouble

Subs:

Gerken Sowunmi Poku Harriott Clampin Welch-Hayes Senior

Now I know dropping Gerken might be unpopular, but Ross is an able deputy and I have to say despite his heroics Deano has contributed to some of the errors that have led to the 6 goals conceded against Grimsby and Port Vale.

The bottom line is that no one is indispensable.

I will be waiting for the decision by the Referee and if it does go ahead then I am looking forward to a new ground, but at present I reckon it will be off.

Safe journey to the travelling faithful in the event of the game being played.

For the drivers use the Park n Ride at M27 8SJ. It is only £2 per vehicle and the coaches are operated at no extra charge by Swans Travel. Tickets are £10 and £5 for Adults and Concessions.

Oh, and the scoreline – a tight game but a 1-0 Super U’s victory.

Up the U’s


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Salford City Reds
at 22:01 19 Feb 2020

Salford won 6-5 on Penalties tonight against the Exiles.

Hopefully enough to distract them on Saturday.

UTU's
[Post edited 19 Feb 22:09]
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Port Vale v Colchester United prediction logged
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He who would Valiant be, Super U's to prevail at soggy Vale Park
at 09:03 15 Feb 2020

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.

Table:

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:

Gerken

Jackson Eastman Prosser Bramall

Pell Comley

Harriott Stevenson Nouble

Robinson

But it is the optimum use of those from the subs bench that will ultimately determine our success or otherwise:

Ross, Sowunmi, Norris, Poku, Clampin, Gambin, Senior

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.

Up the U’s

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Mariners all at sea against the Super U's tonight
at 15:12 11 Feb 2020

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:

Gerken

Jackson Eastman Prosser Bramall

Pell Comley

Harriott Stevenson Nouble

Robinson

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.

Subs:

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.

Table:

Swindon 32 60
Crewe 31 58
Exeter 31 57
Plymouth 30 54
COL U 32 52
Northampton 31 52
Cheltenham 30 48

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.

Enjoy the game.

Up the U’s


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