Posts Tagged ‘draw’

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.

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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?

Game 18 – Hartlepool

28 February, 2009

img_1589_webFor the second time in as many seasons  we see an away strip that blends nicely with the stewards.  At times it seemed as though there were twenty or more Hartlepool players but it was clear that the extra numbers were fairly static – a bit like our defence at one stage this afternoon.  Come to think of it, for the Hartlepool goal it looked like we were heavily outnumbered in our own penalty area, so I can only imagine that there were a few stewards in the mix as well.  For the rest of the game Reid and Baldwin held them at bay quite well.

img_1596_webThe full backs battled well too but the midfield, despite being marshalled well by ‘skipper-for-the-day’ Izzet, never really settled into a good passing rhythm like in recent games.  They missed Perkins, who was having a well earned rest.  Talking of having a rest, I expect the fans will be glad of a week and a half without another home game after having to fork out for three games in 8 days.  The lucky ones amongst us saw that coming and bought a season ticket.  The sneaky ones only attend the ‘kids for a quid’ games and today was one of those occasions.  It helped to push the published attendance figure above 5,000 and that’s quite amazing for a home match against Hartlepool, especially as they could muster barely a couple of hundred.  They had quite a distance to come I think.  It must have taken some effort getting down here, and for the first half you wouldn’t have known they were there.  It didn’t help them that they are also ‘United’ and when they did start up in the second half they were easily drowned out by the kids in the North Stand.

img_1600_webUp front we were quite dreadful at times.  Only Yeates, who now plays as part of the team instead of on his own, seemed to be making any sort of effort throughout the whole game.  Although he got our only goal vernon lacks any amount of oomph (I can’t think of another word for it), while Gillespie looks and acts so fragile that we are constantly wondering if this frail figure will stand up to it all.  Taking of frail figures, there’s a new structure emerging in the North East corner (it’s not yet sponsored by anyone, so get your bids in quick).  I’m told it’s for the new, improved, larger, brighter, more visible, more expensive video screen.  I wonder if they will be able to incorporate a clock that can count beyond 45 minutes?  It’s funny really that they think the rest of us don’t wear watches or have clocks on our mobile phones.  I don’t really see the problem with letting the fans know how much of the ‘time allowed’ has elapsed.  Perhaps they think we will plague the officials with whistles.  Perhaps we ought to give them the bird – how about we start chanting a few ‘cuckoo’ calls when we want the whistle to blow?

Radio Ga-Ga

24 January, 2009

img_0861_webNot much to say about today’s game, except that I heard one of the most remarkable pieces of contrived broadcasting for ages.  It’s pretty much taken for granted that the media will try to find something that represents a ‘first’, ‘best’, ‘record’, ‘last’, ‘worst’ or something akin to that when describing any event.  For example, even I was keen to report our ‘first home win at Cuckoo Farm’ in this blog and hailed it with the words ‘at last’.  I may even have described our ‘worst performance so far’ at some stage and certainly in our first Championship season we held onto a great ‘home record’ for most of the season.

img_0872_web1Now a 0-0 draw is nothing to write home about, and as far as radio commentaries go it isn’t usually much to talk about either.  Today was no exception to that rule, but what did surprise me is the announcement by the commentator towards the end of the game that before today Colchester had only lost one of their last 9 league games, and seemed to be on course to ‘extend that record’.  Since when did a ‘record’ include losing a game?  I’ll refrain from trying to quote some obscure fact that beats that record, but ‘for the record’ the 10 game run including today’s result is W W L W D W W D W D.  I’m not sure what heading this will be found under in the record books at some time in the future, but it also needs to be pointed out that this is a qualified ‘record’ since somewhere amongst all those results is another ‘L’ when we dropped out of the Paint Pot Trophy.

That’s got to be the daftest ‘record’ I’ve heard from a radio reporter this year!

Seat of Learning

12 January, 2009

img_0195_webMilton Keynes is the home of the Open University.  Well, tonight we taught the Dons a lesson.  We didn’t win it, but you have to admire the grit and determination shown by the whole team.  At the end it was MK Dons who were pleased with a draw – at home!  I watched game live on TV as it was Sky’s featured Monday night match.  A great advert for League One.  MK Dons have been in their new stadium for about 18 months now and they seem to be having similar problems to those we experienced at the start of this season.  Their home record is worse than their away record ever since they moved, yet they won the League Two title last year in their first season in the new ground.  Maybe we can learn something from them?

img_0850_webTime-wasting has been one of my main gripes at home this season.  So many teams come to Cuckoo Farm hoping for a draw from the outset.  Tonight we saw the home team, near the top of the table, desperate for a draw.  They have a long throw specialist in the team and he takes 20 – 30 seconds to wipe the ball and get into his groove before he even delivers the ball back into play.  Of course the referee doesn’t spot the obvious time-wasting and I reckon the viewers (many more than were actually in attendance) were deprived of a good 10 minutes of playing time as a result.  I think the match officials need to go back to school, get round a table and learn their trade a bit a better.  It’s all very well getting stroppy with the keepers when they take their time with a bit of gardening, but a throw-in is supposed to be a quick return to play.  … I’ve taken too much time over this little rant so I’ll move on as well.

Surprisingly this was our first match of the new year (following a few degrees of frost a week or so ago) and it bodes well for the future.

Game 11 – Scunthorpe

20 December, 2008

img_2911_webScunthorpe, having dropped with us from the Championship, are going well near the top of the table but we needed to avenge last season’s home defeat. As it turned out we shared the honours and we are STILL stuck in 16th place in the table for the fourth week in a row and after three different results. I’m getting worried about this. We are in a rut.  We need to get out of this before it gets too mucky and we slide deeper.

img_2973_webMind you it was an entertaining game and I have to give a certain amount of credit to Scunthorpe for this. This was probably the first time this season that a team has come to Cuckoo Farm with the intention of playing football. That doesn’t always make it a good match or a fair result but today I think we got both. Testament to this was the fact that there was plenty of singing around the ground and someone near me remarked that even the West Stand came alive. Compared to recent performances where we didn’t know what to do in the last third of the field, today we got a bit further and lost the plot on occasions in the final sixth of the field. Perhaps next time?

img_2994_webYou just knew it was going to remain goal-less early on when Plattypus flicked the ball away from Scott Vernon when the number 24 was on the verge of slotting one home. The jitters in the final sixth were affecting the opposition too – a young lad up front named Gary Hooper , who hails from Loughton as it turns out and has played for Grays and Southend, missed a couple of sitters throughout the game. Well done lad – you know where you hail from.

img_2999_webI was a bit worried about a helicopter that came by during the second half. The pilot chose to fly directly above the stadium – surely that’s a problem for the safety officer on the ground. It looked like it landed nearby. Maybe I was mistaken. I thought it was a chopper, but perhaps, just perhaps it was … No it couldn’t have been, it came from the South. At this time of year we look for our special arrivals to come from the North (Gillespie’s a scouser, Lambert’s a Scot, Vernon from Blackpool) although a few people may have been excited by the arrival of some santas at half time. What chance the chopper contained … a new player? One that will sign a long contract, remain loyal to the club, immediately link up with existing players, score goals, never get injured … OK, I’m wishing for too much. On that subject I have to commend the article by ‘carbon dioxide’ on page 33 of the U’s Review today. I wholeheartedly agree with what’s said about supporting the smaller teams.

img_2970_web2Towards the end of the match the fourth official showed a bit of inspiration when he held up a sign that indicated my preferred strike pairing, but the management seem to think they can’t play both of these together. I’m not sure the officials should be this intelligent but it does show how desperate we are getting in that department. We can’t keep them, we break them when they arrive, we don’t give the better ones enough match practice and we pair them with a tall geezer who can’t trap, shield or hold the ball.

So, how do we get out of 16th place? It’s easy really. Home goals, home wins, string a few together and what have you got? 15th, 14th, 13th, 12th, 11th, 10th, 9th, 8th, 7th, … who knows where it will end.

Derby Day

1 November, 2008

Favourites today must be Southend as the home team, and also better placed in the league. However Colchester have some good recent form so the odds must be pretty close.  Two early goals from Southend were quite a setback and provided something of a hurdle to overcome. In addition the continual rain didn’t help.  I was listening to the first half on the car radio coming back from London on BBC Essex Medium Wave and heard the Colchester perspective from the familiar voices of Neil Kelly and David Gregory. When I got home I discovered that there were two commentaries available from BBC Essex – the Colchester experience on FM and one MW frequency while Glen Speller and Ben Fryer gave the opposing view on the other MW frequency and on digital.

In the second half I managed to take in both commentaries.  Kelly and Gregory had the edge for me – apart from being biased the right way their broadcast was about 3 seconds ahead of the other one! I could hear the other commentators in the background of each as well.  A great comeback by the Us to take a 3-2 lead but why do players celebrate by taking their shirts off? They know they’ll get booked. It’s irresponsible. Wordsworth will probably accumulate a few more cards and we’ll lose him for a couple of games later in the season.  I wonder if it happens in women’s football as well?

From the commentary it sounded like Colchester didn’t let up for the whole of the second half. What a performance. They’ve earned their sugar cubes today. I was going to say here that ironically the Southend commentary team felt that a draw should be a fair result – and seconds later, in fact in the final seconds of the game (5 minutes into 4 minutes of time added), they got their wish.  A defensive lapse yet again and the scores ended up level at 3-3.

Still, a great match for those who were lucky enough to be there and a great result for us considering table positions, home advantage and the weather conditions.  We’re set up for a fantastic return encounter at Cuckoo Farm in February to sort out ‘the best team in Essex’.

Game 02 – Oldham

30 August, 2008

Approached the stadium from a different direction today and it occurred to me that there’s something missing. It’s evident from every direction actually. Who lives here? Yes, we know it’s the WHCS but more importantly it’s ‘The Home of Colchester United’. We need something that hits visitor’s in the face as soon as they arrive (not the Barside fans). Let them know that this isn’t Layer Road as they knew it. We need them to fear the new look Colchester United (maybe even the players will do something spectacular soon to add to the illusion). Let’s face it, this is a special stadium and we need to make our mark on it.

It’s great just wandering around outside the ground before a game. The massive open space gives you room to roam and spread your arms out without touching anyone else. I guess that’s what several people were doing today instead of coming inside to take their seats and we had a 10 minute delay to kick-off to give them time to get in. OK, I’m sure it was still some of the early teething problems. We have to give the club some time to adjust. It’s obviously a huge culture change for the club employees too.

There were some strange things happening inside the stadium today. There were flags blowing in opposite directions (at each end of the East Stand), and several players were tripping up without any hint of a challenge. It was almost acrobatics at one time. Of course there were two occasions when the whole United team went to sleep. One of these was when they were probably lulled into a false sense of security by the Barside who chose to taunt the Oldham fans with ‘top of the league – you’re having a laugh’ just at the moment when an attack was taking place. It was more of an own goal really and the away fans loved it. Barside walked right in. If I’ve learned one thing over the years it’s that Colchester United are at their most vulnerable immediately after scoring a goal.

On the question of away support I hope that the club got paid for the 100 or so seats covered by the Oldham flag. (I’m not talking about the Ernie Cooksey flag, which I thought was a nice touch). Actually I’m quite annoyed by this. Why should away fans come to Cuckoo Farm and be allowed to treat it like that? If there’s spare ground then the home fans should be able to display their support to the home team. Another own goal there perhaps.

It was good to see the match clock incorporated in to the video screen. That was much better.

I was quite surprised by the Oldham away kit. They looked like a bunch of stewards in their high-visibility yellow gear. Even their fans don’t seem to like it – I counted just three of them, or maybe there were more and they were disguised as our stewards? The shirts matched the ref’s yellow card and that was flashed far too often today. One who definitely deserved it was Hughes – and one wag in the crowd near me observed that perhaps he now has to tell his probation officer. Sadly I have to say that Wordsworth needs to think more carefully about his own name. It’s not worth uttering so many words when the ref wants to lecture you and his arrogant attitude got him booked after what clearly just a clumsy tackle.

The second half was the best period of football we’ve seen at Cuckoo Farm. A lot of good play from the U’s but also some of the old standards like winning the ball well, and then what …? A complete lack of imagination from most of the team, and we seem to be getting back to the habit of heading the ball to anywhere on the pitch that isn’t occupied by a U’s player. Added to this a distinct lack of movement when someone is on the ball, giving no options for a pass or building an attack.

It was good to see the family blocks getting filled up. Hopefully we will see some better attendances in other areas as the season progresses (4708 today – that would have been a good attendance at Layer Road). I fear we need to see some improvement in our league position to achieve that and it means winning some games and not converting 2-0 into 2-2. That kind of performance only gives the away fans the chance to come back with the expected chant.

Back to the drawing board all round.