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Colchester v Sheffield United - Durham's perspective 11:41 - Feb 11 with 685 viewsdurham_exile

If there was any doubt that Colchester were involved in a relegation scrap then last night confirmed the worst for even the most rose-tinted Colchester aficionados (me included).

As an exile my home games are through necessity (a round trip of 520 miles) limited and I tend to watch about 15 away games per season. Last night was a somewhat easier 220 mile round trip to Sheffield United (A1/M1 road works notwithstanding) to sit with 148 members of the faithful. Attendance was an incredible 17,162 - obviously there for the Col U or for the chance to witness the biggest win of the season for the Blades!

Now there appears to be a growing faction amongst the U's home crowd who are unhappy about 9 home defeats and the TH style of management. Until last night I had not detected an undercurrent amongst the away faithful. I met up with Gerry (the cat) and we endured the 95 minutes with varying levels of disbelief and incredulity.

Some of the faithful vented their feelings particularly after the second goal went in – FFS and expletive deleted were some of the milder comments and some disappeared down the steps not to be seen for some minutes, perhaps collecting their thoughts or looking at their Road Atlases to work out exactly where Mansfield Town, Morecambe, Newport County and Accrington Stanley are.

Make no mistake on current form, we are not going to secure the 23 points from only now 17 games needed to survive.

OK no-one thought that we would realistically secure any points at Bramall Lane and so it proved; but there is an incredible naivety amongst some members of the team, the product of youth, inexperience etc.

Constructively we had 10 goal attempts, 4 on target which matched our opponents (they scored four from 4 on target shots!), we had 10 corners and the Blades mustered none.

Now Clough’s men came into last night’s game with only one win in the last seven, so the writing was on the wall from the outset.

I enjoyed a pre-match meat and potato pie, good filling and pastry but the fork was not up to the task of removing the pastry from around the edge of the packaging.

TH lined up his charges thus in a 4, 5, 1:


Clohessy Wynter Eastman Briggs

Massey Lapslie Fox Szmodics Gordon



Lewington Vincent-Young Sembie-Ferris McEvoy Bonne Watt Marriott

Chris Porter received generous applause from the Blades supporters before the game.
The match started as most that I have seen do with Colchester on the attack. Neat passing movements and the opportunity to take the lead. In the first minute Szmodics touch was flicked onto the post by Turner the Blades substitute keeper after Howard was injured in the warm up.

And so it continued with Briggs driving runs and Lapslie and Szmodics incisive play.

Until an innocuous free kick on the left side (as we looked at it from the faithful end of the ground) after 8 minutes. The protagonist was Campbell-Ryce who in May 2006 was at Huish Park (on loan from Southend with 1600 of the faithful to witness that historic day under Phil Parkinson - will we ever see that again?) the ball was swung over and Walker failed to command his box, the defence dithered and Baxter was able to bundle the ball home at the second attempt. A poor goal to concede and frankly an undeserved lead for the Blades.

The match continued with Colchester in the ascendancy, plenty of passing and interchanges without any real end product (and that is our achilles heel).

Chris Porter (who looks like a proper centre forward and with more support can score the goals to keep us in league one) was unlucky not to equalise on 25 minutes, his shot well saved by Turner who rolled back the years to get a strong hand too turn the ball away from the goal. Lapslie grazed the bar with two well struck shots and then disaster.

On 37 minutes and with the U’s comfortable despite being a goal down a corner (one of our 10) was cleared and Harris on the right side and well in his own half played a Hollywood diagonal pass fully 50 yards to the onrushing Done (signed on deadline day from Rochdale) he cut inside and scored with a diagonal shot which nestled in the far corner of Walker’s goal.

Pass of the night and probably the season, but Done should not have scored from there!!!

So 2-0 and still the ground was surprisingly quiet, the faithful were restless and disgruntled. I slumped into my seat. Others vented their anger, Gerry the cat wished he could put his gloves back on and play the second half.

Half-time came and went and we had surprisingly made no substitutions. If I am going to moan then it is because TH should have introduced a second striker at half time.

He didn’t and suddenly Chris Porter had to go off the field of play to have extensive treatment to a head injury including a change of shirt because of the blood. While he was off TH at last introduced young Dion Sembie-Ferris on 52 minutes for Gordon. Now this youngster has pace and ability and should have been on from the start of the second half.

Worse still and while down to 10 men, the Blades scored their third and killer goal. McEveley was allowed to run from the half way line and unleash a 30 yard shot which nested in the far corner of the net. Walker was fizzing at his defence, but again he should have done better.

Porter came back on but was never the same after the head injury and should in my view have been replaced by Marriott. The game was lost at 3-0 anyway.

The tireless Szmodics scored a smart acute angled goals in the 70th minute. Could the comeback be on? Possibly, the U’s were still playing with neat passing but little end product.

Even worse a soft penalty was conceded by Briggs who tripped McNulty (right on the edge of the penalty area) on 80 minutes which Baxter despatched down the centre of the goal. Cue Gerry who argued that Walker should have stood his ground and would have saved the spot kick. 4-1 and the Blades faithful demanded 5. If 4 flattered them, 5 would have been total injustice.

TH finally made a second substitution on 88 minutes and took Massey off replacing him with McEvoy. Now I’m sorry but if you are going to introduce someone then two minutes from time in a game that you have lost 4-1 is not the time to make the change. Moan number two.

We almost scored a second consolation goal and perhaps should but bodies on the line and last ditch tackles kept the ball out.

5 additional minutes were added mainly due to an injury which looked as though it would require a stretcher, the St John’s Ambulance staff brought the stretcher and more equipment than you see in an A&E department only to have to trudge dejectedly back again when the Blades player surprisingly got up and started running like a gazelle. Clearly lying prostrate for 5 minutes on the Bramall Lane turf had magical healing qualities.

On the way out of the ground some of the faithful were telling the stewards that we would see them next season. Whilst Sheffield United will not go up, we will definitely go down, unless we can secure the 23 points need for survival. The answer is to ensure that the end product can be delivered in the final third and quickly.

Our passing game is pleasant on the eye and the possession stifles noise from the home crowds but unless chances can be converted, then road atlases will have to be consulted and SATNAVS reprogrammed. Neither a pleasant nor a welcoming thought.

I will continue to believe until things become mathematically impossible. A four point gap has opened up now. Our next game is at the building site and demilitarised zone that is Boundary Park on Saturday, incredibly they are top six and we are bottom four.

Time to play a second striker, give the wingers more opportunity and fight for survival. With apologies to Dylan Thomas – TH’s message to his players must be “do not go gently into that dark night of relegation, fight, fight for the right to league one football next season!"

This battle starts Saturday and we have 17 cup finals left for survival.

Up the U’s



Colchester v Sheffield United - Durham's perspective on 12:04 - Feb 11 with 675 viewsBluenWightExile

Once agin many thanks Durham, a splendid report despite what you must be feeling. I'm hanging in there - see post on your other thread - and feel that a couple of wins would ease the pressure on everyone.
The lack of direction when 2-0 down and losing baffles me. You've lost, so why not chuck 3 new ones on to change things. The worst that can happen is you lose 2-0 again and apart from Sammy's goal that happened yet no subs of note. A pity and not transparently clear why.
Oh well, you'll get a better pie at Boundary Park.......I always do!



Colchester v Sheffield United - Durham's perspective on 12:44 - Feb 11 with 663 viewsnoah4x4

I too was at the game and disgusted with the attitude of some fans. Why should the players and manager suffer such foul and abusive language in their workplace? I thought we were civilised in Great Britain after Boudicca?

4 Blades shots; 4 on target; 4 goals; zero corners. This says it all. This was the most precise exhibition of counter attacking I have ever seen. We were simply beaten by a better side; let's get over it.

To me it is a simple equation. 17,000 Blades fans paying £600,000 revenue means (under FFP @ 60%) that player wages of £350,000 per MATCH are permissible at Bramall Lane. At WHCS 3,000 U's fans will generate £60,000 hence permitting £36,000 player wages; hence ten times less. Before the game, Blades fans summed things up for me when they told us that Chris Porter (who they love!) had dropped to fourth in their striker pecking order because they could afford better. Given the budgetary contraints of FFP, what "experienced" manager will ever stake his reputation at WHCS?

My head now feels we urgently need to be relegated soon to find our natural level before this festering 'Lord of the Flies' attitute blights a generation of our juniors (that get in for free); but my heart inevitably says otherwise. I just hope 'Ralph', 'Jack' and 'Simon' stay away from Oldham (and WHCS) whilst 'Piggy' Humes bravely ignores these bullies.

Colchester v Sheffield United - Durham's perspective on 09:10 - Feb 12 with 590 viewsAFCMorant

Pretty decent report.
Colchester v Sheffield United - Durham's perspective on 16:07 - Feb 12 with 554 viewsburnsieespana

Colchester v Sheffield United - Durham's perspective on 09:10 - Feb 12 by AFCMorant

Pretty decent report.

Sadly we have been in a relagation scrap since Joe D was unable to pick up any wins at the start of the season.
Just maybe relagation might be good for the club because all the "johhny come lately" supporters will disappear and we will get back to reality because in my opinion, with fair play rules we have never really had much chance.

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