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Looking ahead to next Season!
at 12:44 30 Jun 2020

League Two next season, whenever that is due to start – currently mid to late September 2020 is going to have an eclectic mix of clubs, but arguably will be weaker than last season.

If we are to finally get out of this basement League, then Season 2020/21 could well be the time. I should hasten to add that the following lists are very much my own thoughts and with that in mind I have split the league into three segments.

First a look at the top seven promotion contenders:
Colchester
Bradford City
Cheltenham
Mansfield
Tranmere
Bolton
Exeter

Then the midtable teams:
Port Vale
FGR
Salford
Walsall
Newport
Grimsby
Cambridge
Southend
Scunny

Then the strugglers and Relegation contenders:
Crawley
Orient
Carlisle
Oldham
Morecambe
Macclesfield
Barrow
Plus, One other: perhaps our old friends Notts County

I reckon it is Morecambe and Macclesfield for the drop.

All League Two teams will have playing staff issues, financial woes and depending upon when the Supporters are allowed back into the stadia, increased ticket costs and Hospitality issues.

On the positive side conferences and stadium events will be slowly coming back into focus and a clamour for new and innovative ways of encouraging revenue must be explored. Season Ticket sales will be truncated and there is still the issue of refunds for last season to be determined.

Teams will have sponsorship issues and may well have to stick for a second season with existing Home, Away and Change kits.

It will be all about saving money and survival before any thought can be given to future growth.

Not all clubs have yet followed the Colchester lead and dispensed with 12 players, over half of whom were unfortunate losses for the club. Exeter will now lose potentially 8 players, but even the Cobblers, now well-heeled in League One will have to think about increases to ticket prices etc.

For Colchester there can be no extravagant £315K outlay for footballer with issues mainly off the pitch rather than on. Our £1M bounty from that excellent League Cup campaign might yet be our saviour in these uncertain times. We should not forget either about the net £900K from transfer dealings, prior to the start of last season. Balanced against that is the £200K cost of the play-off campaign which sadly ended in defeat.

I note that after completing his loan spell at Peterborough, Sammie Szmodics is not yet back in the Bristol City team despite the fact that they are performing badly. If the step up from League Two to the Championship was too much too soon, he seems eminently well suited to League One football. In a way he encapsulates what is wrong with the transfer system.

A small club, a selling club, perhaps less fashionable has a star asset who shines brightly, would be suitors with deep pockets come in and a bidding war results. But the transition is not always successful, and it is possible for a player’s career to stall badly. Then a loan to a lower league side and yes, he finds his level and plays superbly well scoring goals and assisting with others. Loan spell ends and he returns to his parent club a better player, but then languishes in the reserves. Sadly, he does not return to his boyhood club and knocks around in the Leagues but without fulfilling his real potential. Incredibly sad but unfortunately all too true.

For Colchester, what will our playing staff look like in 2020/21.

First, we have lost 12 players including Ryan Jackson, Luke Prosser, Frank Nouble and Brandon Comley. Could we I wonder manage to claw at least two of them back to the club. Just a thought! Theo Robinson released from Scummend also.

This leaves, with current squad numbers:

1 Dean Gerken
3 Cohen Bramall
4 Tom Lapslie
6 Omar Sowunmi
7 Courtney Senior
8 Harry Pell
9 Luke Norris
10 Jevani Brown
11 Paris Cowan-Hall
12 Miles Welch-Hayes
15 Callum Harriott (his Quad injury probably cost us promotion)
16 Diaz Wright
18 Tom Eastman
19 Ollie Kensdale
21 Ryan Clampin
24 Ben Stevenson
26 Luke Gambin
27 Noah Chilvers
29 Ethan Ross
37 Andre Hasanally
40 Michael Fernandes
49 Kwame Poku

Result, we are short of a Defender, an attacking midfield player and that old chestnut, a striker but most probably two.

Much to ponder over the Summer recess.

The U’s will survive, which is the main thing, but if we are to mount a successful promotion campaign next season, then finding those elusive four players is going to be the priority. It may be that loan signings are once again the solution.

Enjoy the Summer. Stay safe.

Up the U’s


[Post edited 30 Jun 23:11]
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Cobblers to leather the Grecians
at 19:33 29 Jun 2020

I'm not bitter well actually I am.

Up the U's
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Luke Garbutt released by the Toffees
at 19:57 26 Jun 2020

He should have been a potential England full back I do not understand what has gone on there.

Jack Colback released by Newcastle.

Up the U's
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Super U's to be Wembley bound after impressive victory at St James' Park
at 09:25 21 Jun 2020

The equation is simple, avoid defeat at St James’ Park on Monday teatime and Colchester United will go to Wembley to contest the League Two Play Off Final on 29 June against either Cheltenham or Northampton.

OK so the game on Thursday against the Grecians was not a classic, but having watched the game in full for a second time the statistics suggest that the U’s deserved to win the game and Exeter were shown to have been too defensive minded and paid the penalty.

Colchester Exeter
Possession % 42 58
Shots 10 8
On Target 2 0
Corners 6 6
Fouls 14 13

The Colchester team was largely as expected but for Callum (Ainsley) Harriott’s omission, which we learned after the game was due to a tight quad (a legacy from that challenge at Salford I wonder).

JM went 4,2,3,1
Gerken
Jackson Eastman Prosser Bramall
Pell Stevenson
Senior Poku Nouble
Norris

Subs:
Lapslie
Sowunmi
Welch-Hayes
Robinson
Clampin
Chilvers
Ross
Cowan-Hall
Gambin

JM made four substitutions of the five that he could have made:

Robinson for Norris on 77 mins
Gambin for Senior on 78 mins
Lapslie for Stevenson on 78 mins
Cowan-Hall for Poku on 89 mins

Matt Taylor lined his Exeter team up 3,5,2:
Ward
Sweeney Martin (A) Moxey
Williams Taylor Atagana Law Sparkes
Bowman Martin

Subs:
Fisher
Randall
Maxted
Seymour
Richardson
Parkes
Collins
Jay
Randall

Taylor also made four substitutions:

Jay for Martin (enforced through injury) on 38 mins
Collins for Law on 67 mins
Dickenson for Sparkes on 77 mins
Parkes for Moxey on 78 mins

Now the pundits and several elements of the press have been sniffy about the game and Colchester but frankly I do not care. On balance we deserved to win the game. Individual brilliance from Cohen Bramall was overshadowed in the Times newspaper by some idiots who got involved in an altercation with a steward after the game whilst waiting for the team to emerge from the stadium.

Bramall’s free kicks were both of the highest order the first forcing a save from Ward the second a superb piece of skill and accuracy after a cheap free kick given away by Brennan Dickenson.

Frankly I wouldn’t change the U’s starting line up unless Harriott is fit and then he would replace Senior and I would give a more prominent role to Theo Robinson (13 minutes game time is no way long enough and he should have come on with 30 minutes to play).

JM spoke with considerable authority after the game – “we’ve won nothing yet, but it gives us an advantage “ yes spot on, now we must go to Exeter with a more positive mindset than the Grecians showed at the JobServe. We must avoid defeat, but if I were JM I would be angling for an early goal to effectively kill the tie.

The Grecians will have just over 1000 cardboard cut outs, whilst Cilla the Greyhound was our star cut out on Thursday. However, there is no home advantage with an empty stadium, and we must remember that in our planning.

Exeter eventually stayed overnight to ensure they were fresh from the 250-mile journey, we must do the same and then stay positive on Monday early evening.

The weather in Devon on Monday will be sunny and 18 degrees Celsius with light winds. Perfect for the game.

Ok so what about the Colchester performances on Thursday:

Gerken – little to do, no on target shot to save.

Jackson – active down the right side and performed competently
Eastman – I am beginning to think he is a frustrated striker, often finds himself in the danger area after a Colchester attack
Prosser – Captain sensible and strong leading the team credentials
Bramall – deserved MOTM performance brilliant free kick(s)

Poku – seemed to be stifled on the right-hand side
Pell – quiet game I want to see more leadership and forward lung busting runs
Stevenson – capable of delivering a rocket and one on Monday evening would be timely
Senior – despite what the faithful sing has an annoying habit of giving the ball away when well placed after doing the hard yards

Nouble – Big Frank worked his way into good positions but let down by poor finishing
Norris – always plays best when given copious amounts of red meat immediately before the game

Subs:
Robinson must be given more time to shine at least 30 minutes
Gambin – very lively when he came on, Sweeney felt the full forced of his left foot shot in the box!
Lapslie – Tigerish, new hair style and looked to have put on a few pounds
Cowan-Hall – great to see him back but impossible to shine when you have only five minutes at the end of the game

Callum Harriot – must play instead of Senior if deemed match fit.

Jevani (Panenka) Brown the forgotten man – will he be shipped out at the end of the season. Does he have commitment issues, what a waste of talent. Come on sort it out!

Exeter will not be as defensive; they must attack more and that will leave gaps on the counter. JM must look for an early goal and not go 11 behind the ball, which is always a mistake.

Treat the game as though it is still 0-0 and approach it with fortitude and professionalism. We have the precious lead given to us by Bramall, but instead of defending, take the game to the Grecians and we will prevail.

2-0 to the Super U’s on the evening. The defence deserves another shut out.

Wembley here we come.

Safe journey to the travelling cut outs!

Up the U’s

[Post edited 21 Jun 11:30]
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Grecians to have hair-raising time at the JobServe against the Super U's
at 10:43 15 Jun 2020

League Season 2019/20 will live long in the annals of Colchester United. It has been a memorable season on several counts; the inspirational League Cup displays, the impressive performances, cementing a position in the top seven, John McGreal notching up 200 games in charge of the U’s and a season curtailed by the most virulent virus (COVID-19) arguably since Spanish flu over 100 years ago.

Now everything pales into insignificance when compared to the tragic deaths that have arisen because of this pandemic , but football is gradually making a return. Lockdown measures are easing albeit with caution. This week witnesses the return of the Premier League and soon will come the Championship. But it is League One and League Two where the EFL finally managed to get their act together and agreed the most sensible solution. Relegation and Promotion to apply and more importantly the Play Offs to be contested by the four teams who missed out on the automatic promotion places.

That means that the two Semi-Finals will be Cheltenham against Northampton and Colchester will play Exeter over two legs for the right to contest a final at Wembley and all played behind closed doors, but with the opportunity for supporters to be present in cardboard cut outs only.

More than 100 cut outs will wear the famous blue or blue/white stripes in the East Stand on this Thursday evening at the JobServe Community Stadium for a tea time 1715hrs kick off and then the journey to Exeter City will be made ahead of the second leg on Monday 22 June again at 1715hrs.

The winning team will then play at Wembley on Monday 29 June with a 1930hrs kick off.

So much for the pre-amble. Colchester will play their most important game on Thursday evening since ….. well Saturday 7 March at Brunton Park Carlisle when a splendid Away performance saw Colchester triumph 3-0 and secure this vital Play Off place. I was amongst the 146 faithful that afternoon and witnessed a performance deserving of the play offs and probably promotion as well.

It was JM 200th game in charge of the U’s and they set out to rectify many of the issues that had affected their disappointing result against Cheltenham the week before. Now much was made about that game against the Robins. My own view is that we had an off day and they couldn’t have played a great deal better having soaked up pressure and then to hit us on the counter attack. Indeed, I do not see Cheltenham overcoming Northampton in the other Semi-Final. Ultimately though it is largely irrelevant because our fate is very much in our own hands whoever we play.

Make no mistake Exeter City will be a difficult and challenging game. They have hovered around the automatic promotion places all season and will be bitterly disappointed to fall at the final hurdle. They will not want to lose out on a second chance.

This season it has been impossible to separate the teams with a 2-2 draw at home and a 0-0 draw at St James’s Park . However, in recent years our form has not been great against the Grecians. I have been to all the most recent games at Exeter to witness defeats 3-0 (twice) and a 1-0 narrow defeat. All disappointing games and results.

Whilst the last time that we defeated them at Home was 10 December 2017 when we prevailed by 3-1.

Forget about those games though, they are consigned to history and we look only forward to the vital games on Thursday and Monday. If the return of the Bundesliga has taught us anything it is that Home advantage has largely been swallowed up by the lack of atmosphere and support inside the ground.

Yesterday however I witnessed a new phenomenon, crowd noise inside the stadium played over the tannoy. Not only goal celebrations, but also partisan home support when an opposition player committed a foul or when they had a good deal of possession. Bizarre perhaps but it did create the illusion of a crowd. Of course, we will have the cardboard cut outs willing us to victory.

Not having played competitively since 7 March should have allowed any injuries to have recovered and in our case that was largely Paris Cowan-Hall , who, since his heroics against Tottenham Hotspur when he kept Son as quiet as a Church mouse he has been missing with a long term ankle injury.

The other good news is that despite the decision not to renew the contracts of 12 players including Ryan Jackson, Luke Prosser, Frank Nouble and Brandon Comley playing the games to a conclusion in June means that we will have their services for the Play Offs. The one exception is Brandon Comley who has departed the club.

Interestingly the team that played against Carlisle is the one that could line up on Thursday evening. It is only the subs bench where changes would need to be made.

Gerken
Jackson Eastman Prosser Bramall
Harriott Pell Stevenson Poku
Norris Nouble

Subs:
Welch-Hayes Comley Clampin Ross Robinson Gambin and Senior

Jevani Brown has returned to the club from FGR and if Paris Cowan-Hall is fit then both could be in contention for a place on the bench.

Providing all are fit I would play the XI who started at Brunton Park and consider the subs as follows:

Ross Clampin Senior Gambin Robinson Cowan-Hall Sowunmi

Brown could be considered, but I do not think he will play.

Therefore, Thursday night should see the following Colchester line up 4,4,2:

Gerken

Jackson Eastman Prosser Bramall

Harriott Pell Stevenson Poku

Norris Nouble

Subs:
Ross Clampin Senior Gambin Robinson Cowan-Hall Sowunmi

Whilst we “warmed up” with a 4-0 defeat at the New Den, Matt Taylor the Exeter City boss resisted the temptation to play a friendly prior to the semi-final. He did not think it was worth the risk.

Exeter City are likely to line up like this in a 3,5,2 formation:

Ward
Sweeney A Martin Parkes
Williams Taylor Collins Law Sparkes
Bowman Ajose

I believe not to play a friendly was a mistake by the Grecians, regardless of the result against Millwall our players have at least played a game against opposition who potentially could be in the Championship play offs. That experience will be important at an energy sapping JobServe stadium on Thursday.

The weather on Thursday at Colchester will be 18 degrees Celsius with light wind and light rain showers. The pitch should be like a billiard table.

Hit the ground running, take the game to the Grecians, and think only of the prize at Wembley that awaits.

Score prediction, a handsome 3-1 first leg scoreline to the Super U’s.

Enjoy the game, it is live on Sky. My programme is enroute and my cardboard cut-out should be sitting in the East Stand.

What more could one ask for? Perhaps the post horn gallop to run out to!!!!

Thinking ahead (and not counting my chickens) how do I get to watch at Wembley apart from on Sky. I have been fortunate to have been present at every Wembley game the U’s have played in, surely I cant miss out on this one!!!

Up the Super U’s

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The Chairman speaks!
at 19:47 11 Jun 2020

Probably the most uplifting and positive contribution he has ever delivered.

https://www.gazette-news.co.uk/sport/18511480.colchester-united-chairman-robbie-

The excellent news doesn't stop there because three of the Colchester four will be able to play in the three match series plus Theo Robinson can also "finish the job".

The only negative is that Brandon Comley will not be rejoining the club.

It is of course to be hoped that promotion, once secured, will allow us to offer fresh contracts to Luke Prosser, Big Frank and Ryan Jackson.

Exciting times.

Bring it on

Up the U's
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Pre Play Off friendly?
at 23:23 9 Jun 2020

Given we last played on 8 March and our play off semi final first leg is on 18 June a friendly match behind closed doors this Saturday would be helpful.

What about the Hammers?

Up the U's
[Post edited 10 Jun 7:50]
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Play Off Semi Final v Exeter - likely line up!
at 12:39 26 May 2020

Providing nothing untoward occurs, (an increase in the R number, failure of the 51% of EFL clubs to support the Project restart, Stevenage legal challenges), then the Play Offs will take place in June.

Our last game at Brunton Park saw the following line up:

Gerken

Jackson Eastman Prosser Bramall

Harriott Pell Stevenson Poku

Norris Nouble

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

It is difficult to look beyond the Carlisle game for the starting XI.

Providing that the three games can be played in June, then there is no reason why the Colchester four cannot be considered for a squad place.

There is no word on Paris Cowan-Hall and his fitness or whether Jevani Brown, back from FGR, is available to play.

Individual training has started and after Thursday we should know when team training will restart.

Matches could be played June 13th and 17th with the final on or around 27 June.

Up the U's


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May the fourth be with you!
at 08:31 4 May 2020

JM marks his fourth anniversary in the hot seat at Colchester today.

He is now the eighth longest serving manager in the English league's.

Our promotion fate this season will soon be known in the meantime stay safe.

Up the U's
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RC's poor statement - 27 April 2020
at 17:22 27 Apr 2020

The U's supremo has announced that club captain Luke Prosser, Frank Nouble, Ryan Jackson and Brandon Comley, who were all due to see their contracts expire this summer, will not be retained.

In fairness he goes on to say that if circumstances change the decision will be reconsidered.

I am incandescent with rage given that no decision has been made regarding the way that the season will be completed and given that we still have a realistic chance of promotion.

Given our success in the League Cup which grossed £1M - i would suggest that the decision is premature and ill judged.

Up what's left of the U's!
[Post edited 27 Apr 17:22]
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D Day for Football return
at 17:45 13 Apr 2020

It would seem that English football could return on June 6th if the authorities are given the green light.

May 16 would mark a mini period for the equivalent of pre season games prior to the completion of the 19/20 season.

Initially the games will be played behind closed doors.

Still lots to discuss but a plan is clearly being considered.

Up the U's
[Post edited 13 Apr 19:13]
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EFL letter - is it good news?
at 23:16 9 Apr 2020


EFL letter gives vital update on rest of Colchester United season

COLCHESTER United could begin playing games behind closed doors at some point in June, after the EFL sent a letter to all clubs.

EFL chairman Rick Parry has sent a letter to all Championship, League One and League Two teams, telling him that their expectation is that it will take just 56 days to finish the current 2019-20 season which is currently suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The letter also says players should take any holidays now to fulfil annual leave obligations, as there will be no time for them to have a break between the end of the season and the beginning of the 2020-21 campaign.

Colchester's players are currently training as individuals in according to government guidance, with clubs old not to begin training as usual until May 16 at the earliest.
Colchester have nine games left to play in the scheduled League Two season, although they may well also have a maximum of three play-off games to play on top of that, too.

The letter states that the EFL are planning for play-offs to go ahead as normal but that Wembley may not be used to host the respective finals.

It also tells clubs that the £125m of funds advanced by the Premier League to EFL and National League clubs will be put on hold 'while additional clarity is sought on other financial matters, particularly in respect to player wages'.

I know that there are far more important matters than football, but the prospect of behind closed doors games in June is not an exciting prospect.

UTU's

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Some Col U top loan signings since 2009
at 13:59 6 Apr 2020

The Gazette has an interesting article:

https://www.gazette-news.co.uk/sport/18358751.ten-colchester-uniteds-best-loan-s

Boarders will doubtless remember them all and of course two are still at our club:

Danny Batth
David Mooney
Michail Antonio
Freddie Sears
Bradley Garmston
Sam Walker
Luke Garbutt
Bongani Khumalo (I don't remember him at all)
Callum Harriott
Theo Robinson

Up the U's

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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]
Forum
Thread
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

UTU's
Forum
Thread
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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