Posts Tagged ‘away’

2 May, 2009

Cuckoo FarmThe comparison with the final game three years ago wasn’t lost on many people.  Three years ago we needed a point from the final game at Yeovil to secure automatic promotion.  We got it and another chapter in the U’s history was written.  For the current chapter, the result, a 2-0 win, is nothing more than a reflection of what has been happening most of the season – saving the best performances for the away games.  It did push us back into the top half of the table so we finish in 12th place.  Firmly in the middle of the table, but on a positive note we are in the top half!  That’s also thanks to Stockport going into administration this week and having 10 points deducted, otherwise we would have been top of the bottom half of the table.

We are in something of a pivotal position with goal difference of absolutely zero.  It’s like sitting on the fence really – are we a top half team or a bottom half team?  Well, during this season we have been both.  Our away record is better than Leeds and Scunthorpe who both finished in the play-offs.   Our home form is the second worst in the division, and we have scored the least number of home goals – 21 in 23 games.  Talk about a Jeckyll and Hyde season.  We really didn’t know who was going to turn up for games at times.

I’ll wait a couple of weeks before speculating on the anticipated summer clearout, although the rumours are that the taxis are parked outside with the postcode of certain players already set in the satnav.   In one or two instances I’d even offer to pay the fare, except that I feel I’ve paid enough into their purses this season.  There have been a few movements since that game three years ago.  Only 4 of the Colchester squad turned out for both games – Gerken, Izzet and Vernon plus Cousins on the bench.  For Yeovil not one name survives from that game.  An indication of the state of the game today?  I wonder how many were in the crowd on both dates?

Congratulations to Leicester and Peterborough for earning automatic promotion.  We’ll see who joins them soon, and who replaces them even sooner.  At the other end we now know that Wycombe (Paul Lambert’s old club) will be joining us along with Brentford and Exeter.

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Away form returns

18 April, 2009

img_0422_webIt’s a shame they only give full commentary on the second half on BBC Essex.  It would have been good to hear today’s goals go in at the time they happened.  I’m in desperate need of listening to a winning performance (given that home performances recently have left me completely bewildered).  The second half today sounded rather drab and although a 2-0 win away from home is quite desirable at any time, when you look at the quality of the opposition you have to feel we should have bagged a few more.

img_0459_webCuckoo Farm was announced this week as the second stop on a world tour of football league grounds by the BBC Sport team of Tom Fordyce and Ben Dirs.  See their blog.  I just had to have my say of course, and a collection of my photos from the first season here at Cuckoo Farm is now available on Flickr.  It just goes to show that despite our lack of performance recent history has put us on the map.  Sometimes we forget what a rich set of experiences we have had in Colchester in the last 30 – 40 years.  I dragged out my old matchday programmes the other day and found the visits of top flight teams such as Leeds (1971 of course), Aston Villa (1979), and Manchester United (1979).  As a matter of interest today’s opponents Hereford played their first ever Football League match at Layer Road in 1972!

A Question of Intention

11 April, 2009

img_0409_webPaul Lambert has always been keen to remind us that his aim was for Championship football next season.  A careful analysis of his statements will show that the name of Colchester United hasn’t always figured in the same sentence.  I’m not questioning his commitment or loyalty and I accept that his ultimate aim must be to manage a top club or even his country, however I wonder if we are just a stepping stone on his path to success.  My thinking here is furthered by his appearance on A Question of Sport on Friday (10th April) when he was introduced as a European Cup medal winner with Borussia Dortmund, and some footage of his Celtic playing days was shown.  No mention of his move into management, and no mention  of Colchester.   Maybe I’m reading too much into all this and maybe this latest event is just an example of the control and manipulation of the media in what they promote.  After all, how could they show this episode again when Lambert is managing his national team at some stage in the future?  It’s far better to concentrate on something more fashionable of course, and the truth is that Colchester just aren’t in that league.

img_0421_webWhich brings me on to the match at Orient.  This was the first meeting with previous manager Geraint Williams.  ‘George’ is having a successful time at Brisbane Road since his return and I’m really pleased for him.  I’m sort of pleased he ended up happy with today’s result as it did him more good than it did us harm.  Last week I was complaining at how many times we have gone down 0-1 at home.  This week my gripe is that we seem to relinquish the lead away from home too often.  Eight times we have squandered an away lead and only once recovered to take all the points.  Surely the players must know by now that we are at our most vulnerable just after scoring a goal?  Four games to go and nothing to play for.

Lions tamed?

31 March, 2009

img_1492_webJust when we thought it was time to start thinking about next season they go and register another away win at Millwall.  That’s twice this season we’ve come away from The Den with a 1-0 victory. It lifts us three places back to 10th but still 10 points from the last of the play-off places.

Making up 10 points from 6 games is not really a possibility – is it?  That’s ten points more than at least one of the top six teams AND assuming none of the three teams immediately above us also have a good run in.  It’s more complicated than that but I think the maths are clearly stacked against us.

I’ll bet they go and beat Leeds on Saturday and make us all think it’s possible again.

Dream evaporates

28 March, 2009

home_emptyThis was probably the game that sealed our fate for this season.  At a time when we needed to gain ground on the teams above us and with only a few games left it’s unlikely that we can make the play-offs.  I have difficulty accepting the radio commentator’s view today that Colchester had the best of the game.  We lost 3-0!  In my book that means Scunthorpe had the best of it.

I don’t think it’s reasonable to assume that the other teams won’t win any more games, even if we win the rest of ours. Anyway it’s a been a great recovery from a poor start and on the back of last season’s disappointment it’s something to celebrate.

I’d like to be able to say we have a settled squad on which to base our future but as I said in the last entry here there have been so many players in and out it’s been difficult to know who our ‘first eleven’ are.  For instance, Chris Coyne is still writing a regular column in the matchday programme as club captain, but he hasn’t skippered the team on the pitch since, … whenever.

New Faces

21 March, 2009

img_0427_webHardly a week has gone by without some change in the squad.  This week we see three new players join us and one depart on loan.  Two of the new boys started today, Karl Hawley and Neal Trotman, (and the third, Ashley Vincent is already injured) while Scott Vernon departed on loan to Northampton and promptly scored a goal on his debut!  We nearly stole all three points at the Walker Stadium today but let Leicester back into the game for a draw.   I guess that we might have settled for this result before the game but after hearing how many chances we squandered it leaves you feeling that we dropped two points.

I feel the need to jot down a few notes on the comings and goings so far this season.  Since the first game we have seen:

img_0428_webGary Borrowdale (appropriate name!) on loan from Coventry (5 games then called back).

Sam Williams – on loan from Aston Villa – (3 games then called back).

Lee Hills – on loan from Crystal Palace (2 games – then injured).

Jermaine Easter – on loan from Plymouth (5 games – then injured)

Jimmy Walker – on loan from West Ham (15 games then called back)

Mark Tierney – on loan from Shrewsbury  – then signed.

Alan Maybury – signed after trial.

Jamie Guy – back from loan at Oxford – then loaned to Daggers after one game.

Sunday-Akanni Wasiu – loaned to Luton – and came back.img_0428_web

Lewis Gobern – on loan from Wolves.

Dean Gerken – loaned to Darlington – and called back.

Simon Hackney – signed from Carlisle.

Matt Lockwood – out on loan to Barnet.

Matt Heath – out on loan to Brighton.

Ashley Vincent – on loan from Cheltenham – already injured.

Neal Trotman – on loan from Preston.

Karl Hawley – on loan from Preston.

Scott Vernon – out on loan to Northampton.

img_0431_webThat’s 18 changes in about 6 months (12 in and 6 out).   Add the managerial changes, the Chief Exec’s departure, the injuries and suspensions to Gillespie especially (as well as  many others), and international duty for Coyne,  it shows that this has been little more than fantasy football.  No wonder the crowds have been so variable as well.  We can’t expect a consistent attendance until we get consistency in the team.

Cracking Result!

7 March, 2009

img_0412_webNow this is the sort of performance that’s needed at times like this.  A 1-0 away win, against a team above us in the table, that moves us up two places and ever nearer an end of season finish we hadn’t even dreamed about at one stage.  An early goal and then hold on to the lead.  Can’t say I could have predicted that result being achieved in this fashion, but it’s another indication of the immense change in attitude of the team as a whole under the current manager.  How many times have we seen the reverse of this happen to us at home this year?  Now Oldham and their fans know what it’s like as well.   The trouble with results like this is that you start to speculate unreasonably about the team’s chances and it really is the old cliche of ‘one game at a time’.  As we enter the final quarter of the season it’s very much like the final quarter of the football pitch.  We mustn’t lose our nerve with goal in sight.  Let all those around us display the nerves and we can calmly, but assuredly, head on through and achieve the results we now deserve.

What if … … forget it!

3 March, 2009

Night viewIt’s fortunate that our recent run of bad form didn’t see us drop much in the table.  12th place is a good position from which to launch a positive push to the end of the season.  The win against Stockport pushed us up to 11th for a few days but the subseqent draw against Hartlepool and today’s draw against Huddersfield have seen us consolidate in 12th place but with Southend breathing heavily down our necks.  Strangely we seem to be getting closer to the play-off places, in terms of points difference, even when we don’t win.  It’s something to do with the fact that the teams above us are also having a season of mixed fortunes.

Not all the games are going our way and in discussion with others there’s a the temptation to speculate about missed chances and near misses, and of course those lucky breaks for the opposition.  If only the ball had run in our favour.  What if Platt had been able to trap the ball?  If Yeatsey’s cross had been a bit lower.   What planet was the ref on, how could he miss that?  The fact is that these emotions aren’t exclusive to the U’s fans.  Every team, every fan will have moments like this in every game and if we want to change our current position on the basis of ‘what might have been’ then we also have to accept that the same has to be true for every other team, and maybe it will turn out that they’ve been even unluckier than us – although I doubt it.

Anyway the bottom line is ‘forget it’ and get on with creating new chances for us and bad luck for the others.  Accept the bad refereeing decisions in our favour with good grace.  What is most important is that the players don’t forget to keep on trying to the end of the game.  This proved our saviour today with the skipper’s late free-kick equaliser in added time.  Who’s next?