It is that time in the season when owners, fans and indeed managers start to take stock of how they have started the new campaign. Piers Palmer, our Colchester United Correspondent, gives you his take on the start the U’s have made in League Two…
Ten games in and perhaps things are just going the typical Col U way? Here’s the first ten results of this and the last 5 seasons:
2017/2018 – LDLWLWDLLD. 2016/2017 – DWWLWLWDLD. 2015/2016 – DLDLDDWWWW. 2014/2015 – DLLLLDWLDW. 2013/2014 – WWDDLLDDDL. 2012/2013 – DDDLLLDLWW.
Ten (well actually eleven) games in and many fans would be forgiven for being somewhat bemused and, perhaps even, angry with the start Colchester United have had to this season. 16th in the table and already 9 points away from the play offs: the U’s certainly are slow off the mark. Injury problems, inconsistency, perhaps even a lack of quality and frustration have been the main themes of the first ten games. And call me a pessimist (or just a Colchester fan, it’s basically the same thing) but it wouldn’t be a surprise if they all continue for the whole season.
The team have won only three of the first eleven games this season, have only kept one clean sheet and won only two away games in all of 2017. After a fantastic finish to last season, this is not the kind of start anyone associated with Col U were expecting. Mind you, after a bewildering mass exodus of players (which included the loss of 16 goal striker Chris Porter, fellow striker Macauley Bonne and defenders Elokobi, Briggs and Brindley), before the season started, the club’s management team left themselves with an extraordinary uphill struggle with many big shoes left to be filled.
So now, injured or not fully fit (attacker Szmodics is out again, defender Eastman is only just fighting fit every game, winger and danger man Kyel Reid is often struggling and not to mention the list of long term injuries throughout the squad) and hurriedly signed, unproven players plague Colchester’s squad and so, naturally, that breeds inconsistency in results.
However, as football fans, all we have to cling onto is hope. So, here’s some. Colchester’s last two games were away and (get this) they didn’t lose them. An unlucky draw at Grimsby and a great win -and a clean sheet – at Yeovil (who were unbeaten at home) hopefully mean that The U’s away day woes are over. Indeed, even in games Col U have lost, they created plenty of chances. And with striker Kurtis Guthrie coming back to put the goals in and stalwart goalkeeping hero Sam Walker at the other end of the pitch keeping them out, perhaps it’s not a case of Col U missing out on the play offs this season, maybe they’re just late to the party (again).
The jewel in the otherwise rusty Col U crown. The former Chelsea trainee goalkeeper has been a firm fan favourite ever since his arrival from the West-London club. His passion, his youth, his great height and fantastic ability has meant that there is no Colchester team without him.
Now, it might be confusing to talk about the goalkeeper as Colchester’s best player after previously mentioning the fact that the team has only managed one clean sheet this season. Indeed, before the win against Yeovil, it seemed that the U’s conceded a minimum of 2 goals a game. However, if it wasn’t for Walker, it would have been an average of 4 goals a game. Seriously. For example, Luton away culminated in a 3-0 loss but Walker still walked off the pitch Man of the Match because if it wasn’t for him, it would have been 5 or 6. The point is, his goal saving antics are just about keeping the team in games.
In addition to that, Walker is one of the few players in the squad who really knows Colchester United. He has been through a lot with the club. That means he cares for the club and that means he works even harder every single game. If he concedes no goals or 5 goals, the fans know he tries his best for the club every game and they love him for that regardless.
Home grown talent
Again, it’s so important for clubs at this level – that are so often dependant on the loan market – to have players who really know the club they’re playing for. Passion is such a huge thing and players who are playing for the club and not just ‘to get a few games under their belt’ are hard to find.
So, in my opinion, Colchester United are lucky to have last season’s young player of the year, midfielder and academy graduate Lapslie. He is a bit of an old fashioned player. He sits right in front of the defence, barks at every player on the pitch and, despite his size, will throw himself into every tackle. He has been a terrific presence in midfield so far.
As well as him, The U’s have attackers Drey Wright and Sammie Szmodics. Szmodics is currently Colchester’s top scorer with five goals and Drey Wright is looking more and more dangerous. Again, they’re still young and growing into their qualities. They’re both exciting prospects for the club to have.
Finally, former Arsenal trainee, who Col U’s academy snapped up, defender Frankie Kent is another player full of potential. Recently, the youngster signed a contract that keeps him with The U’s until 2020. He has a lot to learn and a long way to go but it’ll be fantastic to see him grow into a great player over this coming season and the next few to come. Great news for the player and club.
As long as these young boys stay fit and focussed, they’ll all play a big part to get Colchester United moving this season following a relatively lacklustre first 10 games.
As for the rest of the team, the new boys need to gel quickly, the injured players need to get back as soon as possible and Colchester United need to find themselves some consistency before they fall too far behind the play-off pack.
Words by Piers Palmer D3D4 Colchester United Correspondent Twitter: @Piers_Palmer Email: email@example.com