BWB

As published in the Essex County Standard/Colchester Gazette and copied here with their kind permission

"Banter with Burns" 

22 March 2019

3 good things came out of the game at Exeter last Saturday. The option to stand on terracing again, the real ale served in their supporters bar and the witnessing of history, with the first team debut of Todd Miller. Many congratulations to Todd, and indeed to Noah Chilvers for his own deserved debut the week before.

The game itself was a reasonably even affair in my view. The only major differences being that they created much the better chances in front of goal and they also had a much the better glove man between the sticks. Nothing was going to get past the diminutive Pym yet again, much to the annoyance of Szmodics and Mandron, who impressed again as a midfield man.

Falling out of the play off places is a blow especially with 5 of the teams above us having an extra game to play. It’s certainly not over yet though, and whilst we can all bemoan the current lack of players with injury and worry about the possible pain of letting the promotion opportunity slip through our fingers, the time for recriminations is at the end of the season. It’s tough but with 8 games to go, managers, players and supporters have to stick together if there is to be any hope of getting over the line into the bare minimum of 7th place.

So how to stop in form Tranmere Rover s and this chap Norwood who keeps banging in their goals? No easy task, so why not unleash Dickenson and Eisa again? If we need 3 at the back to keep their hot shot at bay, then use Brennan as a wing back and push Kane into midfield where I think he’ll be excellent. Eisa deserves another chance to scare defenders as he did when he first arrived. I thought he was mustard yet somehow has fallen out of favour.

Fair to say that there are some mighty decisions for John McGreal to make ahead of the game tomorrow afternoon. I trust him to do whatever he feels is right for us to take the 3 points. He wants a united front between now and the end of the season and I’m all up for that. He also wanted a week of hard work from his players, and hopefully we’ll see the proof of that pudding tomorrow.

This is the crunch time of the season for the U’s and your support is more important than ever. Thanks for all that you can give

15 March 2019

The highs and lows of supporting Colchester United hurt us yet again, and just at the wrong time too. Being consistently inconsistent is becoming really frustrating for the fans, and I am sure similar feelings are also on the minds of the management and players.

These chalk and cheese results are not what the U’s need as they enter the final furlong and it is shaping out that we will not want to be going to Lincoln for the final game looking for a result to secure a play off place. Lots to ponder on the long journey to Exeter tomorrow where I particularly don’t want the highlight to be their new terracing for away fans.

The U’s were dominant and brilliant against Newport County. A superb performance with Senior and Nouble being lauded on the nations social media for their great games and brilliant goals. Big Frank was delighted to find yet another defender mesmerised by his twinkle toes. After serious doubts about Mandron as a midfielder at Swindon I thought he was excellent last Saturday, so too John McGreal with his selection and formation.

No way did I expect to see the U’s outplayed by FGR on Tuesday. They had just lost 3 on the bounce and the U’s should have made it a 4th quite comfortably. I think that several key factors lost us the game. The first up being that I thought FGR passed and played out of their skins. There were periods where the U’s simply could not get the ball off them, and in my view one of the best visiting teams that I’ve seen this season. The referee frustrated the U’s throughout by seeing things that weren’t there and with his soft approach to time wasting. Frustration led to ill discipline and will now cost us with a suspension of a key player.

Going forward I thought that Norris lacked support and also received the ball with his back to goal far too often. That’ll need to change if he is to get us goals again. And finally I really lost track of where people were playing towards the end. Even at 2 or 3 nil down we should not lose our shape.

To be fair, in general I thought the U’s did not play that badly on Tuesday. FGR were just very good, but there were still simple individual costly mistakes that need to be ironed out. Sadly the task becomes even harder with midfielder number 4, Ben Stevenson, also likely to be injured for tomorrow. This is beyond unlucky and makes me think with hindsight that the U’s should have asked for a Newcastle midfielder on loan rather than poor Callum Roberts who has headed back home this week.

Onwards and upwards, well, actually sideways and down a bit to Exeter in the morning. Good luck U’s, please put in one of those top away performances and safe journey to all of the fans heading down to Devon to support them

8 March 2019

Our results over this next week will go a long way to deciding our destiny this season. Top three looks almost beyond us now unless Bury, Mansfield and Lincoln go into meltdown. The play offs are certainly more realistic and victories over Newport tomorrow and FGR on Tuesday will definitely brighten those chances.

However, the U’s cannot afford any more performances such as was witnessed at Swindon last Saturday by a very good following of U’s fans. It’s quite remarkable, the numbers that travel away considering our modest home attendances. Sadly they were all sent home disappointed by the football, and whilst it has to be appreciated that the U’s can’t win or fight for a draw in every game, I do feel that last week was a massive opportunity wasted.

In my view, Swindon had an awful opening 25 minutes or so. They could hardly keep the ball on the pitch or string two passes together, and going forward they looked aimless. During this time, the U’s should have really gone for the jugular, stuck themselves up a gear or two, and lay siege to the Swindon goal. Instead, we failed to take advantage of being on the front foot, and for me, it had a training game feel about it.

I personally thought that Dickenson had their right back on toast but for some reason we stopped getting the ball to him. And then the sucker punch came with a collective switch off and we were quickly 2 goals down at half time with a mountain to climb over the remaining 45 minutes, which became steeper with their sloppy 3rd goal.

An all round bad day at the office. The U’s are better than that one game. Our players are better than that one game. They have shown it over the course of the 15 victories already this season. That number really has to be 17 this time next week.

John McGreal was right to point out that mistakes cost us the game, and yes they did. Many fans are pointing the finger at Gilmartin but he wasn’t alone. Hopefully there will be one or two players back from the sidelines tomorrow to give our gaffer more tools. A few promotions from last weeks bench could be in order too and I will look forward to the team announcement with interest.

The U’s still have a massive opportunity for a successful climax to the season. Let us not let it slip through our fingers again. Thanks again for your support, home and away, this season. The team will need it more than ever now. Good luck U’s!

1 March 2019

It’s time for the U’s to consolidate their place in the top 7 by defeating Swindon Town tomorrow. The games in hand that a few teams around us had up their sleeves have diminished and the U’s remain well placed, with their fate in their own hands. For my money it’s going to a tough ride with a lot of top teams facing us over the run in, but I can see no reason why we cannot achieve a play off position or more.

We certainly have the players, especially if the likes of Pell and Comley return soon to bolster the midfield, and I really think we have the manager in John McGreal. It’s a big challenge for him and he’ll need to keep rising to those big decisions on formation and players. When does 3 at the back work better, and if we’re not scoring, how best to use the attackers on the bench? We’ll have to trust him and so will the players if we are going to succeed this season.

Last Saturday John employed nearly all of his attackers as Carlisle tried to cling on for victory. A bold move but it worked, albeit it was the head of centre half Frankie Kent that saved the day. Good to see Dickenson with the assist and I hope that improves his chances of starting tomorrow. For me the U’s look unbalanced without a natural leftie attacker on the pitch.

Swindon are no mugs. They are in form and have an outside chance of a play off place. The U’s are also in form (undefeated in 4), so it’s going to be an interesting encounter. As the home side push on for goals, it should free up the space for the likes of Senior, Szmodics and Eisa to enjoy, much like they did at Northampton.

Great to hear some of the positive comments emanating from the fans forum on Monday. The Chairman being happy to state that Championship football is possible again for the U’s within 5 years. Why not? Who would have thought it possible the last time? It will need some wise investment, which to be fair we have seen this season with the players coming in, and it will need the U’s to win over or win back more of the hearts and minds of the football fans in Colchester.

Finally, I regret that I have never had the honour of meeting the legend that is Steve Foley. Seen him play and heard so many great words about him, so I was delighted to see that he was played into the U’s Hall of Fame last week. Good football clubs are built on outstanding football people, and Steve is definitely part of the foundations of Colchester United.

Good luck tomorrow U’s and a safe journey to all of the fans heading to Wiltshire to support them

22 February 2019

24 hours away from one of the many “6 pointer” games that the U’s can look forward to before the end of the season. Over half of our remaining fixtures are up against our rivals currently sitting in the top 10 positions. Should we be worried, or will this be to the U’s advantage?

It is a long held theory that the U’s always seem to struggle against teams dawdling around the lower reaches of the table. On the flip side they seem to engage better and excel when they take on the high flyers. It is an opinion that it widely shared but I regret that I have no facts behind it. Let’s see if it helps us to a successful top 7 or even top 3 finish.

It was kind of proven at Macclesfield last Saturday. A throw back ground with very friendly fans. Superb view of the peak district, just a pity that they wouldn’t let the impressive number of travelling U’s onto the terracing behind the goal and also failed to find the floodlight switch until half time. In the gloom of the 1st half our U’s did not play well at all. Sol Campbell’s men were much improved from the last time we played and had a game plan ahead of ours.

Their big chap, Smith, was giving Prosser and Kent some serious issues and it needed a Plan B from John McGreal, and the intro of Tom Eastman to help contain him, and also give the U’s more of the ball with the new shape. We were vastly improved in the 2nd half and should have finished them off after Frank’s early spot kick. Good to see Roberts get more minutes but we did lose the width a bit when he came on for Senior. Pity to really have 2 enforced subs with the formation change and then Lapslie’s injury otherwise John McGreal could have used more of the bench ammunition to win the game.

Still a point was not the end of the world. The U’s are still in the hunt and most of the games in hand around us have been used up. The table is tight though and you can look all the way down to 15th to see that the point gap could be greater. It is going to be an interesting and roller coaster couple of months.

Hope that we can get a good crowd in for tomorrow against Carlisle. They have lost their last 2 and we own them some revenge from earlier in the season, so I am sure that U’s will be gunning for them. Thanks for your support if you are coming along 

15 February 2019

February has started brilliantly for the U’s. Perfect squad additions, a hatful of goals and a couple of clean sheets. Timing is everything, and this is definitely the right time for the U’s to click back into form. Just a pity that so few U’s fans have come along to witness it. Hopefully that will change over the next few home games.

Huge arguments followed last Saturday’s win over Cheltenham. Whose was the better goal? U’s fans were treated to 3 of the best. Kane’s unchallenged run forward to hit a sweet long range strike just inside the post. Courtney’s mazing run, leaving a least a dozen opposition players in his wake, before selflessly setting up Eisa for a tap in, or big Frank using all of his hips to embarrass a defender before slamming in a left footer passed a bemused keeper.

Just a pity there weren’t and more in an utterly dominant U’s win where Cheltenham failed to raise even one shot off target, let alone on target. The one sour point was the Harry hamstring giving way and let’s hope that he’s fixed soon because he’s so important to our success.

Like I’ve said, it’s just a pity that our stands weren’t as full as they could be. I appreciate that there is a cost, but there are plenty of options if you can book up in advance and are not overly fussed where you sit. It’s worth a look if you even have the smallest supporting interest in the U’s.

I ask this purely from the angle that I want the U’s to get promoted and I feel that a fuller stadium helps the team on the pitch. Getting back to League One would be brilliant and not only because of the likelihood of more local derbies. With more support the U’s stand a better chance, and if they continue to play as they have these past two games, then you won’t be sorry.

With midweek results, apart from the Dons late winner, going well for us in the table, the U’s head to Sol Campbell’s Macclesfield tomorrow looking to maintain their play off place and add some pressure to the top three. Bottom dwellers have often been our banana skin as they fight tooth and nail. Not so tomorrow me thinks. I think that the U’s are quite happy to have found top gear again and won’t be looking to apply the brake and clutch anytime soon.

Safe journey to the U’s supporters and good luck U’s

8 February 2019

Well that was the January transfer window folks. The uncertainty of never quite knowing who will be leaving and who will be coming in, is a distraction that the U’s can ill afford in their push for promotion. It’s over now though, so time to settle down to playing and winning games.

Thankfully we did not lose any key players. Also thankfully the U’s have secured 3 very decent additions to the squad. Excellent business in my view and if first glances are anything to go by, they will all do very well for us.

None more so that Abo Eisa. 45 minutes for one of the best U’s debuts I can remember. The goal and assist aside, he looked hugely comfortable on either wing, and either foot, and I loved that his first thought was that he wanted to attack the opposition every time he had the ball. He’ll be a darling to the U’s fans if he keeps doing that.

Ben Stevenson purred through the midfield as we well know Ben can do. He’s a very good footballer and to have him here on a permanent deal is brilliant. The sacrifice was to drop Tom Lapslie to the bench and that must have been a tough call. I won’t deny that but for an outstanding game from Rene Gilmartin, Northampton would have been more in the game, because the more defensive minded Tom was in his tracksuit. It was perhaps a small gamble that happily worked.

Hard to judge a player on a 10 minute cameo, but Callum Roberts has the demeanour of someone who wants to play and score goals, so I am looking forward to seeing more action from him sooner rather than later. Hopefully the crunch tackle for the penalty he won has not damaged him. Likewise, let’s hope that the crunch on Senior that saw him limp off is only minor.

In a raft of good performances, star baker last Saturday was Sammie Szmodics by a distance. He was absolutely everywhere and the Cobblers, with all of their physical might, just could not handle him. He looked recharged almost as if we were playing an August game

It was a top afternoon at Sixfields and there will be much anticipation that the U’s can now start the sort of run that will secure at least a top 7 finish or better. It’s all about consistency, which is not a switch that you turn on and off. It can be a mood though, and the U’s were in that mood earlier on in the season. Can they can rediscover it tomorrow against Cheltenham and then take to every game thereafter? With the new lads only improving our already good squad, then I think they can.

Up the U’s!

1 February 2019

We are off to the Cobblers tomorrow. Not for shoe repairs though, more like some much needed results repair after another disappointing defeat at Crewe. It’s time to knuckle down and regain the focus after the distractions of the January transfer window. It’s time to get back to winning ways, because the U’s have a golden opportunity this season to get promoted. It may not come our way again for a while.

To miss out on a top 7 finish would be frustrating, and in our remaining 3 month, 16 game scramble, the U’s have got to be looking to win every single one of them. Go for the jugular a bit more is the view of some of the anguished fans who went to Crewe last week, and trust the substitutes at your disposal. The U’s have played some excellent attacking football this season and they can do so again 

A fit again Luke Norris would help, but so too will the signing of Ben Stevenson from Wolves. I thought he was a player of real quality when he was with us last season and I am looking forward to seeing him play again and be that more creative midfielder that we have been lacking. Ben is a very good acquisition by the U’s. Let’s hope that Abo Eisa, our on loan winger from Shrewsbury, is also up for making an impact. Be good to see what has got tomorrow afternoon.

It was sounding like the U’s were going to fall short in the new faces department with comments made about lost deals and the like. As I write on the eve of the final day of the transfer chaos, I sincerely hope that as you read this, John McGreal has been left with a squad that can take us back to League One.

Hopefully it will also be a squad that can hold onto leads as you may have seen the disturbing sight of the halftime League Two table being thrown around social media this week. If football was decided over 45 minutes (please don’t suggest it to FIFA) then the U’s would have already been crowned champions by some margin. A rather painful statistic 

However it is 90 minutes of U’s football that I am looking forward to watching at Northampton tomorrow. They are a tough team to break down so we’ll need to be patient and play to our strengths. To get involved in an arm wrestle, by that I mean a physical and aerial battle, would be fruitless. The U’s have skilful players who need time on the ball, so let’s give them that time 

Best of luck tomorrow U’s and a safe journey to the boys and girls off to the shoe repair shop at Sixfields

24 January 2019

If you are going to be a football fan, and in particular a U’s football fan, then you have to be prepared for a whole roller coaster of emotions throughout your life. High and lows come knocking at your door regularly, and every defeat feels like a punch to the stomach that can take days or even weeks to recover from.

Consistently inconsistent, and at this stage of the season, the U’s can’t afford to be so. Last Saturday’s defeat to Mansfield will take some getting over, not only for the fans, but also for the players. The U’s were excellent in the 1st half. Energy and confidence flowed through the team and our high flying opponents were nowhere. How so then that those levels diminished in the 2nd half and we were picked apart? So disappointing, and made worse by a referee that we really needed to keep on side with as his decisions became more and more frustrating.

Like many of you, I scratched my head at our substitutions. If I am honest then I am not really sure who was meant to be playing on the right hand side after Senior left the pitch. In Star Wars terms, there was no balance in the Force. Brennan was having a tough game at left back, after excelling there a week earlier, so Kane was a worthy change. For me though I would have given the shepherds crook to Nouble and pushed our natural left footer further forward to attack their right back, who certainly deserves our apologies for nursing a broken leg rather than time wasting in the closing stages. Get well soon player.

Hindsight is great and fans/managers all see different things but in reality Mansfield won the game with their two loan signings, Grant and Ajose, who were involved in all 3 of their comeback goals. Good players, but also new faces, loanees or not, and at this stage of the season, if those 2 factors are combined, they are like gold dust.

John McGreal has fended many a question recently about potential additions to help boost the squad. He must be a frustrated and busy man at the moment, and I hope he has support around him. Now as I write these notes, pictures of beaming players holding U’s shirts to their chests, are in very short supply. I wonder what the next week will deliver.

That week will start at Crewe Alexandra tomorrow and the U’s will need another “Port Vale” performance to win the game. They can do it and to be honest it is getting to the stage when they must do it, and consistently too. Good luck U’s and thanks to those travelling to the Gresty to support them.

17 January 2019

I think that League Two will be a squeaky backside finish for a good number of teams this season. It could possibly be one of the closest and most thrilling promotion finales of recent years, with the automatic and play off places probably not being decided until the final battles. It could all be even more exciting than Brexit!

The U’s excellent win at Port Vale propelled them back up the table again and that’s even after our pretty dire few weeks after Christmas. No one team is really making a play for the title and pulling away from the pack in my opinion. Even Lincoln City have been vulnerable at times, allowing the likes of Bury and Mansfield to close in.

So what does this mean for the U’s? I truly think that if we can survive my feared months of January and February when the U’s have wandered in the past, can still have a strong squad intact come March, and be sitting in the top 7, then we will have a dozen cup finals left to put everything into, and I am convinced that we will have something to celebrate come the end of the season.

There will be variables and speed bumps along the way, but beating Mansfield tomorrow will be a massive statement of intent to our rivals and also to our fans that the U’s mean business. The Stags will be tough opponents with only 3 defeats on their record so far. Our key players will have to rise to the challenge. Lads such as Harry Pell who will probably still be on cloud nine after his goals at the Vale. Senior needed the confidence boost too. We all know what he can do on the pitch and if selected, I would love to see his A game on show.

There has been a lot of praise for Brennan after his left back stint last week. He too is a top player and before his injury, he was touted as being on a money move away. Having the old Dicko back will be important and even more so if he can do well in the defence whilst Kane tries to heal his broken toe.

Although I am probably tempting fate with these notes, I am really surprised that there has little transfer window news for the U’s. More out than in if I am honest. I do think that Colchester is hit hard geographically with scouts not bothering to pay our little corner a visit often enough. Even by being close to London, it’s almost as if the capital dwellers struggle to see good players on the doorstep of their bubble.

The fear is always there that losing a player or two close to the end of January allows little time for replacements. This month must be hell for football managers, especially in League Two.

Onto tomorrow and I thank you if you can don your hats and gloves to support the U’s against Mansfield. Good luck U’s and let’s hope they can win and start to build that clear water below them.

Up the U’s!

11 January 2019

Banter is thankfully back in sync this week after games and deadlines went astray over the festive period. Sadly that now gives me time to look back at that 2nd half at Crawley. Perhaps one of the most disappointing 45 minutes of my life. The end result gave the U’s just 1 meagre point from a possible 9 over Christmas and New Year, and with all due respect, given the opposition we played, that number should have easily been 6 or probably more.

Last Saturday was a massive opportunity to get over our Crawley catastrophe with a moral boosting  win over bottom dwellers Notts County. Sammie’s strike made it a brilliant start, which was just as the doctor had ordered, but then the U’s fell apart, one or two players went missing, and despite our concerted efforts after the break, we could only muster a draw.

John McGreal imparted some strong words post Gatwick trip. It made a pleasant change because when a manager is too insular with their comments, fans can lose respect for said manager. For me though it wasn’t backed up as well as it could have been on the pitch against Notts. That said, we fought back for the point. I also thought that Mandron played well, and he linked very effectively with Sammie. Shame that we had to take both of these goal scorers off to bring on new faces near the end. Perhaps others should have been sacrificed.

Good to see Ryan Gondoh back on the pitch again. His old Maldon mate Junior is back at the U’s after his loan period so I wonder if he might be welcomed back into the fold. Hopefully he is not going to be farmed out on loan again. I suspect that we’ll need him as we travel further into the January transfer window, my most dreaded month of the football season. It can easily make or break any teams chances of success so whilst on one hand I would be over the moon to see any of our players, especially the old youth teamers, leave for “bigger” clubs, I would be gutted to see them go, given the hole it would leave in the team.

A hole that could be filled by players coming in of course but my guess is that these would be loanees in the main, even if a transfer windfall hit the U’s balance sheet. Lots of work for John and co this month then, adding to the pressure of getting back to winning ways at Port Vale tomorrow. No easy task, but I maintain that our players are still the same players that we had in our golden start to the season, so if they can only get back that form and recover their mojo, then I am sure that with loads of games left to play the U’s can get back into the top 3.

Good luck tomorrow U’s and thanks to all travelling to support them

 

28 December 2018

I hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas with Santa bringing you lots of lovely U’s goodies from the club shop. Mugs were always my downfall and I’ve lost count of the number of U’s beverage vehicles that I have managed to acquire over many festive periods.

What better present for the U’s fans than a stonking 3 points at MK Dons. A vast turn out from Essex made the trip to support the team and you were all a huge credit to football team you follow. Our fans were just brilliant and definitely ruled the roost of the spacious and luxurious  MK arena. It certainly helped the players but they already in a totally different mind set than Carlisle.

John McGreal made some changes and they worked well. The players embraced them and took the game to an outplayed opposition who were so poor first half they had to whip off both of their forwards at half time. Luke Prosser did brilliantly for his goal. Not the best of corners to be fair but his flick was instinctive and perfectly placed. The U’s did not look back from there.

Frank Nouble had his mojo back in bucket loads and was excellent. Luke Norris lead the line very well and Dickenson embraced his first start in ages with a top performance. I would describe having Tom Eastman back as like being able to call on your warmest of blankets on a cold night. Hope he suffered no damage from Alex Gilbey’s naughty late challenge. No way to treat his old team mate really, but it summed up his teams collective frustration at being outplayed.

A few players name checked within an outstanding team of 11 which pleasantly made the man of the match voting one of the toughest decisions of the weekend. The other being whether to brave a supermarket to stock pile food and drink.

It was one of the greatest away days that I can remember in recent times. The whole team excelled themselves and the fans enjoyed every moment. By writing these notes before the Boxing Day clash with Stevenage I am hoping that there was more of the same. The additional Christmas present of footballing revenge in the shape of a U’s victory against Mr Guthrie’s men would be perfect. Back that up with 3 points this weekend against Morecambe and the U’s would head into 2019 in excellent shape.

It’s away at Crawley on New Years Day and I’m sure that there will be a strong U’s following there too. If you fancy it and would like our coaches to take the strain after your heavy night out then please have a look at the CUSA website for details.

Finally then from me  this year, I would like to thank you all for your support of the U’s in 2018, and in a plea for 2019, please give the team all that you can to help them secure promotion

Up the U’s!

21 December 2018

I have had some truly lovely days out watching the U’s at Carlisle. Long coach journey aside, they have generally been good trips with good company enhanced by the beautiful Cumbrian scenery.

Last Saturday won’t stay long in my memory I’m afraid. A poor footballing display made even worse by the near arctic conditions. It was a tough day all round and losing 4-0 in such weather made for a pretty sad trip home. It was just one game though. Yes it wasn’t great but the U’s are still smiling in 3rd place and we’ve all cheered them along the way to that position, so now is not the time to be all doom and gloom.

We all know the quality that our players have in their armouries and I am sure that they will be back brandishing it again tomorrow at MK Dons. Fair to say that I would not be surprised if John McGreal had a tinker with his starting XI. One or two looked a bit low last week and with some untapped talent on the bench, maybe it is worth giving them a chance. Perhaps Norris back up front? Perhaps Nouble switched to the right, making room for Dickenson or Gondoh? I think we also have a lad on a season long loan from Wolves that we rarely see.

Tom Lapslie stood out for me against Carlisle. Never ever stopped moving and I would be shocked if his GPS stats weren’t way ahead of his colleagues. It was his sort of game in a way, covering the back four and disrupting the opposition with slide tackle after slide tackle. I’ve got a lot of time for Tom and I am convinced that he will be crucial to our eventual success this season.

He’ll be re-united with his old U’s team mate Alex Gilbey tomorrow. It’ll be good to see Alex play again, albeit against us, but I do hope that he has a lousy game and scores about 3 own goals! Sorry Alex, we want to win.

Another former team mate who needs no introduction will be at the U’s on Boxing Day. I would happily sacrifice all of my Xmas prezzies for sweet revenge against Stevenage. It’s a pity though that Lewis Hamilton won’t be donutting his way into the JCS car park to support his home team. It might help swell the festive attendance.

I know there will be a huge turnout of our supporters tomorrow, and likewise for Boxing Day I hope. May I wish you all a wonderful Christmas and thanks as always for your support of the U’s 

 

14 December 2018

This is definitely the most important message this week, or indeed any week, in football. If you see and hear anything remotely close to homophobic or racist abuse directed at a player or fellow supporter, you must report it. If not to a friendly steward, then there are plenty of other ways, including apps for your phone these days. It has no place in the world and we all need to eradicate the assumption by a minority that it has a place in football.

Colchester United is a proud family football club and I am pleased to say that I cannot recall the last time I fell witness to anything of this nature and long may it continue.

The next important message is that our U’s are still sitting pretty in 3rd place of League Two. Back to back wins have strengthened their hold and started to stretch out the points gap across the top half of the table. It was “job done” last Saturday when Macclesfield came to town. Not our finest display of football to be fair though, especially in the 2nd half. Sol’s men gave us a really tough time and the U’s looked a bit flat at times. It felt as if someone had just delivered some horrible news to the changing room. Surely the return of Luke Norris would have only enhanced the mood. Or perhaps the gaffer had cancelled the players Christmas soiree? Only joking and very unlikely of course given how well they are doing.

3 points were all that mattered and I’m sure that our lads will be back to their real selves tomorrow at Carlisle and then all over the festive period.

It would be wrong of me not to come clean and state that I prefer Mr Norris over Mr Mandron up front. That said though, I thought the Mica had a top game last week and his goal was the right reward for his performance. The “who plays now” conundrum can only be answered by John McGreal and I think much will depend on where else he might tinker with his starting line up

Pleased to read the Tom Eastman is close to a return after his fractured cheekbone. He really doesn’t deserve the injury bad luck that comes his way, but sadly it comes often as a result of the fearless way he defends. Luke and Frankie are top notch, and Ollie has been a more than useful sub, but the squad really needs a fit again Tom.

So onto Carlisle and a 630 mile round trip to see the U’s win – hopefully. It will be a long old day but this away game has always attracted a good number of supporters from Colchester, and also from the Northern Exiles fraternity. Please keep your fingers crossed for a good journey, a chance to stop at the famous Tebay Services and if we are lucky, a pint or two of the local brew at the rugby club next door.

Please don’t forget that the U’s are home Boxing Day and the Saturday after, and tickets are selling well so please organise your festive diaries as soon as possible to avoid missing out.

Good luck tomorrow and safe journey all. Up the U’s!

7 December 2018

It seems like an eternity since the U’s last played. It will be so good to be back at the Jobserve Community Stadium again tomorrow. Lowly Macclesfield look like be being easy pickings but I personally don’t think they will be. Best not discount the Sol Campbell effect as he tries to drag them off the bottom of League Two and expect to see a few more long lenses as his presence will no doubt ramp up the media interest.

On the positive side though, the fixture provides the U’s with a massive chance to reinforce their top three berth. Points wise the table is pretty tight and to start a busy festive month with a good win would be brilliant. Looking back at the past month, Sammie will find out today if he has won the League Two player of the month award for November. Great to be even nominated, so much better to win it. Sammie’s had a great month and in the absence of Norris, his goals have put the U’s right up there. Not just his goals though. He seems to have taken on most responsibility around the pitch. Certainly more involved and definitely wanting to be so much more than just a link man with the number 9.

As I mentioned with Frankie Kent last week, Sammie will no doubt be on the radar of clubs further up the football pyramid. I think back a few years and the youth team we had. Alex Gilbey moved away and has done very well despite some bad injuries. Drey Wright, now sadly injured again, has brightened up the Scottish Prem. Sammie’s old strike partner, Macauley Bonne, decided on a step back with Orient and is now being rumoured to be on the short list of a few top clubs.

There’s no way on earth that I would want Sammie to go anywhere, but I think we have to be prepared for the fact that come January there will be even more attention on our players given the U’s excellent season. Money does talk, even when you are fighting for promotion.

Back to the football and strap yourselves in for 6 big games in just 4 weeks. Hopefully Norris and Eastman will be back with us during that period to bolster the squad that will need to be at its very best. I have long thought that this time of year can be a sticky period for the U’s. In certain past seasons we have powered down a fraction. Let’s do that this time please.

Good luck tomorrow U’s and thanks for your support as always.

30 November 2018

Still weary after the late night at Forest Green, but still buzzing after one of the strongest performances on the road I’ve seen for while. The U’s needed an away win again and they worked very hard for it.

Please don’t think it was a smash and grab, backs to the wall game for the U’s. Sammie’s goal in the bag, we then controlled the game perfectly to the finish. FGR may have had the possession 2nd half but they did little with it as the U’s busted a gut to deny them any sort of access to our penalty area. In fact with a bit more luck on the counter attack, Frank and Sammie would have made the score line even sweeter.

The same way that we made it hard on Tuesday, Exeter did exactly the same to us last Saturday. The U’s are a threat this season and every team heading to the CO post code will be playing hard ball from now on. Even Sol Campbell’s lowly Macclesfield, our next home opponents, will be difficult. It’s great to have that level of respect, but the U’s will probably have to be a degree cleverer overcoming it.

But for the Exeter keeper the 3 points would have been ours last Saturday. I thought we played really well. Minor points, and maybe one or two substitutions could have been made earlier. Frank could have used better judgement with the foul that lead to the bundled equaliser. It kind of played into their hands by gifting a set piece for them to flood the box.

Small things but overall for me it has been a week of highlights. The U’s look back to form after their cup relapse and now look very good for their 3rd place. Sammie is banging the goals in again and his work rate last Saturday was outstanding. One of several former “youths” excelling this season, and in particular I would like to single out Frankie Kent for special praise this week.

Like several of you I watched him play as a U’s teenager. Not the biggest or perhaps the strongest, and some may have felt that a few meat pies would make him a proper centre half. Proper in terms of a real bruiser, a cruncher. That was never going to be Frankie’s way. He has developed, with the U’s guidance, into one of the best defenders I think the U’s have ever had in my lifetime. Utterly fearless, totally composed and a mature reader of the game.  If he’s not being watched by “big” clubs then I’ll eat my U’s bobble hat.

League debut teenager and local lad Ollie Kensdale could easily follow the path of Frankie over the coming seasons and I really hope he does. The next one off the U’s production line could do far worse than learn his trade alongside Messrs Kent, Eastman and Prosser.

The future is bright and hopefully the more immediate future, promotion next May, will be even brighter. Enjoy some local non league footy tomorrow and then please come along next Saturday to support the U’s against Sol’s lads.

23 November 2018

It’s time to find those U’s hats, scarves and gloves again folks. Winter is coming. Funny coloured footballs will be the norm now for a few months, and the stocks of Bovril will take a bashing at grounds around the country.

Love this time of year. Sadly the days of muddy pitches and huge divots playing havoc with goalkeepers are few and far between, but at least the 30 yard sliding tackle has not become extinct. Tom Lapslie has seen to that.

So the message for tomorrow, when the U’s entertain Exeter City in a crucial home game, is to wrap up warm whilst enjoying the football. Not quite sure though exactly who we will enjoy watching play. Injuries and suspensions have started to kick in to our blinding start, and at the back we have been hardest hit. Plenty of options for John McGreal but none really tested. Cameron James, who I have a lot of time for, is back with us and young Ollie Kensdale is pretty decent. Chris Forino has done well in the U23 games I’ve seen, and of course we could play Ryan Jackson or even Kane at centre half.

What will be, will be in defence tomorrow. It’s up front where my concerns lie at present. Goals for the U’s have suddenly become scarce and I’m not sure as to why. The next 6 weeks sees the U’s play quite a few top 10 teams and they’ll need to be finding the net so let’s hope that wherever that switch is, someone finds it and flicks it back to “on”.

I missed the Newport trip last Saturday but much of what I have heard depicts the game as a struggle for the U’s. Diaz and Frankie had strong games in the opinion of the CUSA members on the coach and that was good to hear, especially in the case of Wright Jr.

I think that it’s important to remember that the U’s have been brilliant so far this season in the league. We are still in 4th place and that takes some doing. There is also a real chance of being back in the top 3 again this weekend and they should be confident enough to take the game to a 6th placed Exeter side that have not won a league game in their last 5 attempts. It may feel tough at present, but these periods were always going to appear, so it’s important for the fans to keep positive. It’s a well known fact that cheering and clapping keeps you warm after all!

Thanks for your support, dust off your thermals, and enjoy the game. Good luck U’s!

 

16 November 2018

Not a disastrous week for the U’s, but certainly a disappointing one. Tough to be knocked out of 2 cup competitions in the space of a few days and pretty rubbish to pick up some new injuries along the way.

Also for me, two uninspiring games of football in that the people of Accrington failed to embrace the magic of the FA Cup and as for the EFL Trophy, less than 500 Cambridge fans registered an interest. Is the love of cup football waning? Certainly the much maligned Checkatrade muddle, even with cheap prices, still sees fans voting with their feet and staying away. On the plus side, it was great to see so many U’s fans coming out to support the team this week.

Not that the lack of home atmosphere and fans had anything to do with the results. The U’s deserved a draw and an FA Cup replay. It was a pretty even game which ultimately came down to which deflected shot went in and which did not. Accrington are pretty good with barely a weak point. They closed the U’s down really well and it was probably one of the hardest games we have played so far this season. Made even harder by using up 2 substitutions so early on. Poor Tom Eastman, one does hope that his luck has got to change soon.

The U’s weren’t at their best at Cambridge. Basic mistakes crept into the games of one or two, and going forward we were not at the races. “New” faces had the chance to shine, and I was hoping for so much more from Collins and Mandron, who in my opinion is nowhere near a Nouble or fit Norris. I want him to be, but I just don’t see it. The goals we gave away were poor and it took a fantastic penalty save from Dillon to spare us from an even worse result.

The U’s can now embrace that old cliché of being able to concentrate on the league now. They will do so though with a couple of major worries. The goals have dried up a bit and whilst it is noticeable that opposition teams are giving us much more respect these days and putting more men behind the ball, we have to find a way to counter that, especially without our leading scorer.

Injuries are the other worry with too many for comfort either missing for Newport tomorrow or highly doubtful. John McGreal will be juggling his troops and for me, this will be a good test of whether the U’s has what it takes this season. Many fans have loved the new feeling at the U’s. The belief and desire to win games and succeed. With the chips down and a shuffled pack, can they continue to prove just how strong they are by overcoming this hurdle? Let’s hope so.

Good luck tomorrow U’s, and a safe journey to all of the fans heading to Wales

9 November 2018

The U’s FA Cup trail begins tomorrow and let’s all hope the road is long one. Not bothered if it’s a bit twisty and turny along the way, but please can we enjoy a bit of a cup run again. I still think that this competition is special. The U’s have some excellent history to be proud of which still eclipses the not so proud stuff, like Bedlington, Gravesend and Oxford City.

Tomorrow will hopefully be one of the good cup days. No dodgy non league pitch or opposition, and perhaps, given the league positions of both teams, the U’s will be the underdogs to Accrington? Could it be an advantage? Just as long as we bark the loudest and come home with the win.

And winning is what the U’s are doing currently. Even when not at their very best, like last week against Swindon where we really dropped down to their level of football. They were one of the poorest teams I’ve seen this season and the U’s found it almost too easy in the 1st half, but just didn’t press the accelerator and truly dominate. Great work by Nouble and Szmodics got us the goal, but sadly the whole mood was tempered by seeing Norris stretchered off. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for our leading scorer and hard working front man.

So who will get the nod to lead the line? Will Mandron be brought back in from the bench or will the gaffer turn to big Frank, and bring Brennan back into the starting XI? Have to say that I do like a leftie attacking on the left. The U’s started the season with Frank up front and it didn’t totally work in my opinion, but as his confidence has grown, he could now do very well as our focal point. That said, I am normally wrong when second guessing John McGreal, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Tom Eastman acting as our closet centre forward.

The EFL Trophy beckons on Tuesday night with the much shorter trip to Cambridge United. Don’t forget that it’s a 7pm kick off folks. It may be the least favourite football competition in the country, but it’s a winner takes all game for the U’s so I’m looking forward to it.

Then it’s the pre-Christmas run in from hell. Apart from bottom dwellers Macclesfield we have to take on virtually every other team in the top chuck of League Two. Quite a test for any team and so they’ll need all of your support if you can lend it please.

Good luck tomorrow U’s and if you’re on the road to support them, please have a safe and secure journey

 

2 November 2018

Was that perhaps the longest 6 minutes of added on time that has ever been played? It was probably still not enough in the eyes of the Lincoln management and players. Such happy people they were, as their 6 yellow cards demonstrated.

It made the win and 3 points all the sweeter for the U’s fans. I thought our management and players were outstanding. Lincoln are top for good reason, and they’ll more than likely win promotion. Therefore only a very good team will beat them this season and the U’s certainly met those credentials.

Maintaining such high standards will be the challenge. In seasons past, the U’s have stumbled from game to game, but it all feels very different this campaign. Credit to the management, the players and indeed the fans, who I also thought were excellent against Lincoln getting behind the team. The test will now be, can those fans that have stayed away for whatever reason, now give the U’s another chance? I truly hope so, because we’ll need their support to get out of League Two.

Home again tomorrow when we entertain Swindon who managed their 1st win for while last weekend, albeit at Notts County. Another 3 points would be amazing to keep us in the hunt.

Will Courtney Senior pick up another MOTM award? I’m sure he’ll be hoping for a more sympathetic referee. Last Saturday he only had to breathe on a Lincoln player for the whistle to be blown. No disrespect to our young star in the making, but he’s never going to be a tackling cruncher of a player.

Luke Norris and Sammie will be hoping for more chances than they saw last week. The combined efforts of all of the U’s hotshots make them almost the highest scorers in the top 4 division of the pyramid. It’s been a while since we can boast that statistic and after a few barren games I expect them to be back in the groove tomorrow.

Looking ahead, the FA Cup distracts the U’s from their league ambitions next week. On paper, and on the map, not the friendliest of ties at Accrington, and I expect the home team to be the favourites. The U’s as underdogs may not be a bad thing and with a good number of U’s fans already planning their journeys, the players should get all of the support they need to pull off the win and get the U’s into the next round. I really hate going out in the 1st round.

Good luck tomorrow U’s, thanks for your support, and don’t forget to check out the U’s Supporters Bar, open to all, before the game

26 October 2018

If you are going to make any game this season, then tomorrow, when the league leaders Lincoln City come to town, must be that game. I would dearly love to knock them back a peg or two, and a large number of U’s supporters cheering on their team would be a massive help. Please do your very best to be there.

Rallying call over, a win would keep us nicely nestled in the play off places after a reasonable week of away games. Tough trips for the fans that made both Morecambe and Grimsby. Sadly I could not make either but from what I have heard, it was backs to the wall in the North West and luckless up in the North East. Any win away from home is priceless of course, and unfortunately we hit a resurgent Grimsby just at the wrong time.

It was very pleasing to read some of the comments and tweets from gaffer and players alike in appreciation of the support they received last week. A lovely touch and certainly most genuine.

No major damage to the league table and the U’s can now look ahead to some home comforts for a while. Very sad to lose Sammie, but hopefully he’ll be back soon, if not tomorrow. The squad can just about cope without him, but as with any injury if gives others the chance. Our bench is strong and salivating at the prospect of some actual game time.

I made the mistake of tweeting that I wasn’t bothered about where the FA Cup draw would deliver us, just as long as we won. Accrington Stanley away, thanks to ball number 13, would not have been my first choice though. Another long excursion amongst a shed load of others this side of Christmas. If the U’s are going to have a cup run, and please God let them, then they might as well start with a demolition of Accrington.

Off tangent a bit, so what does Grass Roots football really mean? The sale of Wembley was meant to have delivered huge sums of money to a level of the game where many a League One or League Two player would have begun their football. Thousands of artificial pitches would have been created. Not much grass there, just plenty of rubber, so what about the stuff that grows in the ground? Keep an eye open for the campaigns to improve the quality, number and cost of these real “Grass” Roots pitches. It might just help the U’s stars of the future.

Our current U’s stars will have to be at their very best to counter the management and players of Lincoln tomorrow. I’m sure they’ll do us proud and I hope you can be there, cheer them to 3 points, and celebrate long into the night, when of course you get an extra hour to do so.

Good luck U’s and thanks as always for your support

19 October 2018

That was probably one of the best Crawley teams that I have ever seen play the U’s. Barely a weak link in sight and so all the more credit to our lads for winning the 3 points. It was a hard earned victory as the possession statistics will tell you, but when you can defend well and still score 3 goals you know you’ve had a good day.

Their only route to our goal was a penalty award. He was inside the box for sure, but as for contact, well it was barely a tickle and their player admitted as much. For two games running now we’ve had to take bad spot kick decisions on the chin. No more please.

It’s at the other end of the pitch where my focus lies this week. I have already heralded Luke Norris this season and for good reason. He’s the sort of centre forward the U’s have been wanting for years. Always wanting to attack and a massive threat in front of goal. Unlike some of his predecessors I don’t keep my fingers crossed when he’s shooting.

I think that John McGreal has shown good faith in Frank Nouble and that faith is now paying off. His goal last Saturday was a strike full of the confidence that he struggled to find earlier in the season. He can and will score more for the U’s this season.

As for Sammie, he’s just excellent in and around the penalty area and the opposition must loath defending against him. He knows what his powers are and uses them to great effect.

Goals are like gold dust in the Football League. If these guys keep banging them in then I wonder how many clubs will be banging on Robbie’s door in January with their own gold looking to secure their services? I would strongly suggest to our Chairman that installs more locks on that door.

The U’s are hitting the motorways these next few days with trips to Morecambe and Grimsby. Tough on the players and fans alike when the fixtures fall in this way. Our away record has been good and it would be great if it could be enhanced with at least one win before we welcome Lincoln City next Saturday. How I would love to knock Lincoln off their perch next week!

We might also be making motorway plans when the FA Cup 1st round is drawn this Monday. Just 3 weeks before the U’s try their hand at the cup again, but just 3 days before they play Romford in the Essex Senior Cup at the Jobserve Community Stadium. Suspect the team will be full of youngsters as it’s the day before Grimsby, but they will still be very worthy of your support.

Good luck in all your fixtures this week U’s, and safe travelling to all of the supporters heading out to cheer them on.

12 October 2018

Our good record at Stevenage was well and truly blown out of the water by Guthrie and Co last Saturday. And there was plenty of water to be honest. Most of it finding its’ way into the stand where we were all shivering. You could say that the U’s were undone by a certain amount of climbing for their 1st goal and a certain amount of penalty area misjudgement for their 2nd goal, but that doesn’t hide the fact that apart from the opening period, the U’s were below par and struggling in the wind and driving rain.

Conditions suited the Stevenage play. Lots of tall men quite happy to see the ball in the air most of the time. The U’s prefer a different style of play and to be honest a couple of our lads went missing a bit as a consequence. Just one game though and definitely not the end of the world. Win tomorrow against Crawley and we’ll be back chasing the top 3 again.

It’s debatable as to whether John McGreal will get the shepherds crook out on a player or two. Not really his style perhaps? The good performance against Southend seems to have given him food for thought though, and he would dearly love to bring Kent back, possibly alongside Prosser and Eastman.  He’s also been talking up our Wolves loanee Aaron Collins this week, who I thought played quite well in the season opener, but since then has hardly kicked a ball in anger. We shall all see about 2pm tomorrow when the team is announced.

So what of that Southend win and indeed the EFL Trophy competition? Firstly, I had a little smile when I saw that Charlton had placed 8 (eight) past Stevenage. Clearly though still not popular with the fans around the country, although an Essex derby peaked the interest somewhat. The U’s victory sets up a nice final game shoot out at Joe Dunne’s Cambridge in November. The winner taking their place in the final 32. I do agree that the competition needs work. It has the stigma of annoyance about it at the moment and I struggle to see the purpose behind it. That said, the U’s have a very good chance of progressing so I’ll be Cambridge bound to support them .

Back to tomorrow and Crawley will be tough opposition. They can claim Lincoln as a scalp already this season and although better at home than away, I doubt they’ll be easy pickings for the U’s players. Be great to have a good backing of U’s fans to support them, and don’t forget that your support of the new supporters bar would also be appreciated. The more people using it, the better chance we have of keeping it and developing it long term.

Thanks for your support as always

 

5 October 2018

Brian Owen used to work wonders for the U’s and it seems that Tony Flynn has also acquired his healing powers.

The walking wounded, albeit minus the gutted Frankie Kent, were back amongst the pack on Tuesday night and they were most welcome. A dazed Tom Eastman and a hobbling Luke Norris looked destined for the subs bench at best, but Mr Flynn had them back up and running to play 90 minutes and secure the much needed win after the Saturday set back.

If that wasn’t impressive enough, the ahead of schedule Tom Lapslie also played a major part, if not the major part against Yeovil. It was great to have our midfield destroyer back in action.

Bury were a tough old side, and to be honest Yeovil weren’t adverse to the occasional foul either. Perhaps the U’s are lucky to have escaped with only Frankie’s turned ankle from these last 2 games.

To lose one centre half was bad enough but to lose two was down right silly. Bury took full advantage. Fair to say though that the U’s weren’t at their best and they’ll be disappointed to lose their 2nd home game of the season.

It was important to get it right on Tuesday and the will they, won’t they play news and possible managerial mind games, certainly provided a boost to players and fans alike. Pity that the attendance was on the low side though.

Frank Nouble stole the headlines for a couple of lovely strikes, but I thought that alongside Lapslie, Kane had a very strong game keeping the speedy Jordan Green quiet.

11 games played and the U’s are in a great position heading the bunch looking to get close to runaway early leaders. Heading the bunch courtesy of the 2nd best goal difference in the top 4 divisions. Only Manchester City can better it. Impressive work as the U’s head to the quarter mark of the season.

Have you managed to take in the new supporters bar yet? I think that it has gone really well and forms a great addition to the match day. Definitely a huge step in the right direction from the powers that be and with our support it can only develop and improve further.

And so we head to Stevenage tomorrow and a reunion with a certain Mr Guthrie which could make for an interesting afternoon. Perhaps let it not become a distraction for us as we look to take more points from another form team. The U’s are looking like a team to take on all comers and our record at our local rivals is very good, so please give the team all your support.

Have a great weekend and Up the U’s!

28 September 2018

The U’s have the opportunity to make a real statement in League Two these next few days. Bury at home tomorrow and then Yeovil at the JCS on Tuesday night. Both have had decent starts this season, so our guys will have to work hard, but just think where we might be this time next week.

6 points would be incredible and will certainly enable the U’s to stay with the early front runners in Lincoln, Exeter and Newport with their strange looking negative goal difference. It’s a chance to pull away from the tightly knit pack of teams all within 3 points of one another below us.

So, 2 big games ahead which hopefully will mean 2 big U’s crowds to help cheer them on. This week has seen the football club announce a new venture that I personally feel is great idea and a huge stride in the right direction. The match day experience is an often used phrase, and on our travels, many of us go green with envy at the social facilities that other clubs have for home and away fans. To have a supporters bar at the JCS is so important and I would encourage all of you to check it out tomorrow and Tuesday night.

It will be in a slightly embryonic stage, but with your support and I am sure, your constructive suggestions to help it along, between the fans and the football club, we can help make it something really special for the future. The U’s want it to happen and the Chairman has invested money to get it off the ground, so now it’s up to us to get behind it. The CUSA will certainly be in there tomorrow doing their away travel bookings etc

The same is true of the football team. It’s clear that a large investment has been made in the squad this season with Pell, Norris and Nouble all brought in with the sole ambition of winning promotion. To move up a league, teams need to invest. Largely, the U’s fans have supported this and have really enjoyed the start of the season. We all need to keep this going.

The players certainly kept their unbeaten away league record going last Saturday. Alas, I could not make Oldham, but from the snippets I have heard, our Lancashire friends were a very decent outfit and on fairness deserves a point. Tough on the U’s though to concede 2 late goals. I am told that Norris and Pell played really well. I’ll keep saying it, in that Luke looks a terrific number 9 and if we can keep him fit and keep giving him chances to bang the goals in, then the business to bring him on board during the summer looks on a par as that which delivered Harry to our door.

Good luck tomorrow U’s and thanks to you all for your continued support 

21 September 2018

These are really happy times to be a U’s supporter. The players are keeping their feet on the ground though, and so will we of course, but long may it last.

It’s clear that the U’s can’t afford any slack games. The decimation of Crewe was brilliant but probably a one off. League Two “standard” must be respected, as Cambridge proved last Saturday. If they had taken their chances, or to be more precise, if Jabo had taken his chances, then it could have been very different.

Dillon kept them at bay though and I am sure that John McGreal will have challenged his defence about the relative ease that Joe Dunne’s men entered our penalty area. To be honest I feel that we missed the destructive nous that Tom Lapslie provides when we’re under the cosh like that.

Still, when they missed the target, we hit it, and in style too. I was delighted for Frank Nouble after his 1st U’s goal. Cheerio left back and a wonderful finish from the big man. I really hope that this confidence boost will help both himself and the team.

It says a lot about our team when they can still notch up 3 goals and a clean sheet when they are perhaps not at their finest. Even better when they can do it in front of an ever growing U’s home support which is nice to see.

The U’s have a pretty decent record at Oldham and it would be great to extend that tomorrow, before a nice little home double against 2 other form teams in Bury and Yeovil. Oh the joys of a Tuesday night game again! Hopefully I was a little hasty in calling the Crewe game a one off?

I managed to make the U’s U23 game v Charlton on Monday night. In fairness, it had more of an U18 feel to it for the U’s. Plenty of teenage talent up against the more experienced Addicks lads boasting the occasional international and Champions League player. Not a bad plan really and many of the U’s lads did well in their 1st win of the season. Andre Hasanally stood out with a good goal and assist, whilst at the back, Paul Rooney, Ollie Kensdale and Chris Forino all look like future and potential understudies to the incumbent centre halves.

So plenty to feel good about at the U’s this week. Let's keep it going

Good luck and safe journey to all those off to Lancashire tomorrow, and good luck also to the local teams in FA Cup action this weekend.

14 September 2018

I’m looking forward to the team announcement tomorrow. The excitement and anticipation of not knowing which players will be selected purely because the FA may have sent a last minute email suspending a player for the game. I’m surprised that FIFA haven’t thought of it already, to along with their other plans to “liven” up the game, such as having 6 goals on the pitch to make scoring easier. Surely “in play” suspensions without any warning or reason must be future of football. You heard it here first folks!

The Luke Prosser story is very poor work from the officialdom. Ludicrous mistaken identity is one thing, but sending an email as late as the Wednesday afternoon saying sorry Colchester United, the referee has made a little error,  you can’t play your captain and key player in the next game, is just plain stupid. Maybe the person employed to type such emails doesn’t work Mondays or Tuesdays? The FA must have forgotten to pay their phone bill too.

Thankfully, on the whole, it did not affect the U’s performance at sodden Tranmere. To be fair we weren’t at our finest in the 1st half. Maybe feeling hard done by and we did switch off badly for their goal. A few half time messages from the gaffer and suspended skipper, and they were out early for a team huddle and a much improved 2nd half. Definitely well worth the point, and it could have been more had the referee shown some rare love for Luke Norris after he was hauled down in the box.

After a long and rainy journey for the fans it would brilliant to see the player fight back as they did. The new season spirit and feeling remains intact and it will take them nicely into the Cambridge United game tomorrow afternoon. Save some money. Get your tickets today rather than tomorrow. It’s a local derby and should be a real cracker. It’ll also be good to see Joe Dunne again. U’s legend, top guy and hopefully a successful manager for years to come.

Finally a word of praise for Diaz Wright after his 90 minutes last Saturday. A few nervous moments, and that’s to be expected, but overall he worked incredibly hard in midfield covering for Lapslie and Comley. He played well and I suspect that the U’s fans will be seeing much more of him this season.

Good luck tomorrow U’s. No last minute emails please, and as always, thanks for your support

7 September 2018

Our Harry Pell was given hell at Cheltenham. Poor chap, I’m not sure that their former talisman deserved the attention that came his way on and off the pitch. By football standards it was relatively minor, but Harry had the last laugh with the vital 3rd goal from the spot. And it was vital because the U’s were under considerable pressure in the 2nd half.

Harry almost had the 1st laugh too as he rose from his prone position and grabbed hold of the ball ahead of Norris for opening spot kick. Memories of Guthrie mucking it up and going against orders last season sprung to mind, but thankfully the adrenalin waned. All 3 U’s goals from dead balls. When was the last time that happened?

And what about that Norris free kick? Ronaldo who? You have to say a big well done to the players for battling for the precious win away from home. They worked hard and got the result that they deserved. Have we got a U’s team this season that are going to strive harder for consistency and goals? I certainly think that we are heading that way.

Tranmere will be a massive test, as well as a long journey for the travelling U’s. Made even harder of course with Lapslie out for several weeks and a few others warming the treatment table. The squad will need a depth of quality to cover injuries but by the sounds of his post match comments I think that John McGreal was hoping for a few more positives from the Checkatrade defeat on Tuesday. A kick up the backside to a few of the fringe and younger players that he expects more if they are to get close to the starting XI.

I had to miss the Southampton game rather than boycott it. The competition remains an unpopular one with fans and I can understand the reasons as to why. Pity though in that more support could help the team to progress. You only have to look back to the FA Cup debacle last season to realise the impact of having just one stand open. From the winning becomes a habit cliché, lets hope that we can still beat Cambridge and Southend in this group to carry on the good work.

Best of luck tomorrow U’s and a safe journey to all going to support them. Don’t forget the big local derby with Cambridge here next Saturday. Get your tickets early folks!

31 August 2018

We're off to Cheltenham again tomorrow and the U's will be seeking better fortune this time around following their penalty demise a few weeks ago. Harry Pell will enjoy his old chums again and perhaps will not enjoy so much the welcome from his former supporters. A nice little goal will help silence them please Harry.

Last week was a set back and this Saturday and next, being tough away games, will test our mettle. Several fans have said to me that it is not so much the new signings that have given everyone a boost, it’s that they sense a stronger resolve and desire to succeed this season. There is no denying that it has gone pretty well on the pitch so far, and they deserve a lot of credit. Where the U’s have struggled in the past is living with the hype, getting themselves up on cloud 9, attracting more supporters to watch and then shooting themselves in the foot.

To a degree this was the case against Northampton. Big old side the Cobblers and I think one or two of our lads struggled with the physicality. It was disappointing, especially because as I say, there were fresh faces in the stadium, but this “new” U’s now has a chance to show that they can evolve from the peaks and troughs that have haunted us in the past by getting right back on track this next fortnight.

So what do you think of the match day programme giveaway? Hope you’re enjoying it. It’s something new and a bit ground breaking. Tongue in cheek, but pity that John McGreal didn’t have time to glance at the Northampton supporters article. They love their two centre halves, but weren’t afraid to tell that world that they were rubbish against quick footed forwards. The trap was set and poor Frank Nouble had to aerially battle a couple of giants for much of the game.

The U’s looked great when they changed formation and personnel. We should have created and scored more overall and at key moments our touch or pass went astray. I’ll keep beating the Norris drum of course and if his header had gone in I think I could have been confident that a start would be his at Cheltenham, where our 1st away win of the season should be forthcoming hopefully.

It may only be August but hanging onto the coat tails of Lincoln City is already a must.

Good luck tomorrow U’s and thanks to those fans who are travelling. Don’t forget we have Southampton U21 here on Tuesday night in the old Checkatrade, and well done to the U’s for securing another England international. Might need some buses for that one!

24 August 2018

Are you also still bouncing from the 6 (six) goal demolition of Crewe? What a truly wonderful game of football for the U’s fans. Discount the fact that the Crewe players are going to reimburse their fans. They weren’t rubbish. The U’s were just out of this world.

Mansfield was a real tough 90 minutes for our lads and I was impressed that the same XI still had power left in the tank for Tuesday. The Stags are promotion favourites and have banged in a few goals already. I think their fans and players were expecting to turn the U’s over, but there is more steel in our guys this season and they clearly forgot about Sammie Szmodics, our fox in the box.

The draw was very much deserved after the work our players put in on the pitch. Luke Prosser and Tom Lapslie were top of the lot in a U’s class room full of A star performers, and another point away from home was brilliant. A quick word of praise for the U’s away support. Good numbers and in fine voice.

Back to the goal fest and it’s hard to put into words just how complete a performance that was. Our foot was firmly on the gas for the majority of the game, and Crewe only got a sniff of Dillon’s goal when we bothered to change gear. Brennan was really impressive. Harry and Tom dominated the midfield and even our defenders are getting in on the goal action. The race for top scorer come the end of the season is wide open.

Nouble v Mandron v Norris. Where do you place your bet for leading man tomorrow? I can see now why Newport played big Frank out wide. Ball at feet he can work up a real head of steam. Deceptively quick and  so I am not sure if he the most comfortable being a target man? Given first dibs he has yet to score so I think he might be given a break in place of Norris, if he recovers from the cheap Crewe shot in the back. He looks a real Number 9 – hence the shirt, and with an eye for goal already, I like him and hope he carries on doing well.

Mandron may well have to wait his turn I reckon. Still no bad thing to have fresh centre forwards on the bench. It’s been a while since the U’s have had that luxury.

So the big question is, can the U’s repeat the feat against the Cobblers? Only one way to find out and that’s to come along to watch and cheer them on. Don’t be surprised if Northampton batten down the hatches and frustrate us. The U’s are a form team and we’ll have to expect that now.

Thanks for your support

17 August 2018

Absolutely wonderful to get off to a winning start to our home league campaign last Saturday, but it was sadly tempered by another League Cup demise at Cheltenham.

I’m slowly falling out of love with cups. It would have been great to make some early running in this competition, and look to carry on the good work into the FA Cup. Forgetting of course the distraction of the cup group thingy where some Premiership youngsters get involved. It was good comeback to make it 2-2 but heart breaking to eventually lose on penalties. A tough way to lose our little unbeaten run.

Tuesdays’ penalty skier was Saturday’s goal scoring sensation. Port Vale simply could not handle Courtney Senior. In fact there only way of handling anyone decent was to dump them on the grass. His goal has been doing the social media rounds this week and if you missed it, please try and find it. Jacksons’ goal was just as good, especially Sammie’s lay off, and it all made for a very good day at the office for players and fans alike. The U’s are an attacking force once again and a fair refection of the game would have seen our winning score line doubled.

The set up looked good against Vale. Different to the previous game, which was still effective, and perhaps this indicates a change in management thinking. The players really liked it too, and as we all know if the players aren’t bought into the game plan, then it’s only going to fail.

They all had great games. Luke Prosser was immense at the back, Harry Pell and Tom Lapslie were both destructive and creative, and Frank Nouble, whilst missing a sitter, showed what a good front man could do for the U’s.

It’s comforting to think that we now have a depth of forwards at the U’s. The pressure is definitely on because only the chaps in form and scoring will get the starts. Nouble could be that man but if he doesn’t hit the net soon, my sneaky feeling is that a fully fit Luke Norris will be the one.

Off to the dangerous Mansfield tomorrow and I’m sure the U’s will have a strong following to cheer them on. Getting a result there would be tremendous. Then it’s back for a home double and if the blue and white shirts can do the business again then August will have been a very good month indeed.

I appreciate it’s way too early in the season to be excited about promotion, but there are encouraging signs at the U’s this season. Thanks for your support as always

10 August 2018

Football almost made it home from Russia during the summer, but the U’s will certainly be at home tomorrow afternoon when Port Vale will hopefully be our first victims of the new league season.

For lovers of the game there has hardly been a gap between our disappointing finale back in May and the new adventure that kicked off at Notts County last Saturday. In amongst it all the U’s have had what looks to be a very productive excursion into the transfer market. Losing Drey Wright for nought was a bitter pill and Sam Walker was always going to leave, albeit he’ll be hoping for more than bench space at Reading.

On the flip side, there is certainly more of an attacking feel to the boys in blue and white with new boys Nouble, Norris and Collins all forward thinking chaps with hopefully goals in their boots. Harry Pell could well be the X factor for us in midfield. Not a player we’ve had in that position for a while, and I believe he’ll do very well.

Keeping our defence intact, especially with Kane signing a new contract, is great news. They were back into the groove in the opening game. The grappling Jon Stead and co rarely had a sniff of our goal such was the strength of our back line. My take on the Kane saga. First up, I am a big admirer. He seems to have different motives compared to other players of his age. Clearly he loves his football and the U’s, and by signing a 2 year deal, when the big move comes a knocking in the not too distant future, and it will for Kane, the U’s have a chance of securing a proper value for him.

It feels so much better at the start of this season, than last, and the point at Notts was a good start. Could have won it deservedly, and Eastman came closest with a beautiful strike that was but an inch too high. Collins looked sharp, Sammie too and Pell was revelling in his declaration that the midfield was his territory and woe betide any opposition player trying to play in it.

The key to our success will be bringing the away game buzz to the home games. Dominate for 90 minutes and to use the old cliché, make it a fortress. I really think that we have the players to do it and I hope that we have the fans to do it too. Promotion will need all of us, hand in hand, pulling in the same direction. Hopefully our numbers will be strong enough to hold up our end of the deal.

Thanks for your support as always and good luck for the season U’s