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Two more points dropped at the Lamex 16:03 - Jan 6 with 334 viewsdurham_exile

Saturday saw me and my eldest son journey the 218 miles to Stevenage – down the A1 and A1(M). A decent journey in about 3.5 hours. This was my first visit to the Lamex stadium. The first thing to note is that it is easy to find, just off the A1(M) and right next to Roaring Meg (a Retail Park).

We arrived in sufficient time to enjoy lunch before walking to the Ground from the free car park which, after the rain earlier in the week, resembled a demilitarised zone in places. Still no problem finding the ground, but then a queue to get in because there were only four turnstiles open and although 400 tickets had already been sold in advance there must have been another 200 queuing to get in.

Update: officially 749 Col U faithful in the stadium. Brilliant

Once inside there was a single food and beverage outlet with a single queue of about 50 people. Given that Stevenage knew how many people would roughly be there in the Away end the queue was ridiculous. The tea was also lukewarm and not particularly appetising.

The Colchester faithful were all housed in the seating behind the goal at the South End of the Ground. The hardcore Stevenage supporters stood in the East Terrace and that left the North and West Stands for the remainder of the 3,027 attendees.

Also, in the corner of the East Terrace was the Sky TV crew and Bianca Westwood, that doyen of Saturday afternoon. The faithful gave her and Sky a raucous and ribald welcome.

Now perhaps I’m feeling a little liverish at present, but the inability to purchase a programme left me feeling underwhelmed. I know that programmes are not everyone’s cup of tea, but I am old fashioned enough to enjoy reading the pearls of wisdom and particularly the information about Colchester. I have skimmed through the e-version online, but there is no paper copy just copious adverts. Very disappointing.

The pitch looked heavy and had cut up in places. I reckon that although it was dry and 9 degrees Celsius Stevenage had experienced a lot of rain recently. The faithful were buoyed by the sight of Junior warming up with the squad or perhaps it was the aircraft taking off from Luton Airport at regular intervals.

I am not going to rehearse the arguments about the Jevani Brown transfer to FGR suffice to say, I say it is total madness.

JM lined up his team as follows:

Gerken

Jackson Eastman Prosser Clampin

Pell Stevenson

Gambin Nouble Harriott

Norris

Subs:

Ross Lapslie Comley Kensdale Poku Robinson Junior

There was much expectation about todays game. I had predicted a 3-0 victory and the faithful were in very good voice, buoyed by their drum and accompanying entourage.

The Stewards were visible but low key and kept well out of the stands which is how it should be unless there are problems. Tick in the box for Stevenage stewards.

Now the stats will tell you that we had 24 shots of which 10 were on target. It could have been a different story, however. Jackson cleared from almost his own goal line after two minutes and on 13 minutes Parrett had the freedom of the U’s penalty area and contrived to miss.

Harry Pell then missed a simple header at the other end. After 19 minutes the worst possible thing happened. Tom Soares (yes that one) committed a two footed challenge on Luke Gambin and the referee who was well placed produced (rightly) a red card. Two footed challenges must be outlawed. It was dangerous and late.

Westley who has just started his fourth spell at the Lamex criticised the referee later but there was no argument. He was guilty and took an early bath. But here’s the thing. Colchester have never done any good when playing against ten men. We normally lose or draw.

In truth we were profligate in possession and too casual in the first half. Gambin whether the challenge had unsettled him was simple appalling until he was replaced in the 64th minute.

Norris missed a sitter at the other end and Stevenage in attempting a clearance headed the ball onto the cross bar and over. It was turgid stuff.

Deadlock at half time and I couldn’t be bothered to queue for the luke warm tea. The temperature was dropping as the sun disappeared from sight. No changes at half time from our illustrious leader.

The faithful were baying for blood and with Colchester now kicking towards our serried ranks of supporters surely the ten men would not be able to hold out. Norris started the half where he had left off by narrowly missing a chance and he thumped the ground in frustration.

Now I reckon that we had been far too pedestrian in the first half and both Pell (who was spraying passes left and right) and Stevenson injected some more urgency. Gambin was having a shocker. Reluctant to shoot from distance he was outfought and outtackled regularly. JM eventually replaced him with the industrious Poku who changed things significantly. Immediately more pace and creativity was injected.

Harriott was content to show his array of tricks but on a cloying surface few came off. By contrast Clampin had an excellent game and was instrumental in much of the work down the left-hand side. As the half wore on Stevenage became more and more defensive and maintained ten men behind the ball at all times.

Chuck was taken off to have a fix of red meat on 70 minutes and Robinson took his place. The waves of attacks continued with more intent but still the Stevenage wall could not be breached. Farman in goal was excellent (apart from the timewasting) and was equal to whatever we through his way.

Nouble and Stevenson were both just wide with efforts and so the pattern continued.

Gerry was running a sweep for the minute that Junior would be introduced. I said 86 minutes. And he came on for Harriott on 85 minutes. Now immediately he looked bright and enthused and Harry Pell floated a ball to him which he headed downwards, and Farman claimed on the line.

After the save Stevenage had a defender down clutching his head and after some minutes, he was unable to continue and left the field of play. So, Stevenage with four minutes to play were down to nine men.

I suspect that we could have played another 20 minutes and not scored but the referee managed to find only four additional minutes. There were some boos at the final whistle, but they didn’t amount to much. Tremendous frustration at another two points dropped.

Fact, we lost ground after another draw:

Swindon 26 50
Exeter 25 47
Crewe 24 44
Bradford 25 44
Cheltenham 25 41
Plymouth 24 41
FGR 26 41
COL U 25 40

My man of the match would be Clampin who was outstanding.
Kwame Poku was brilliant when he came on and Tom Eastman was steady as always.

Gambin and Harriott should be rested this week.

The Globe Arena beckons on Saturday and the chance for three vital points. If we are indeed serious about promotion then nothing but the maximum in Morecambe is required.

Up the U’s


[Post edited 17 Jan 9:35]

Durham_exile

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Two more points dropped at the Lamex on 18:34 - Jan 6 with 309 viewswessex_exile

Yep, that's pretty much the game I saw too Durham, top work as ever. Sorry I didn't see you at the ground, we were housed at the far end near the drum for most of the match - managed to bump into Noah though. Morecambe and Macclesfield are a bit beyond range so soon after Christmas, but Exeter is a certainty on the 25th - will you be arranging a family visit to Devon around that time?

Up the U's
Poll: How will we do in 2016/17
Blog: Letters from Wiltshire #06

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Two more points dropped at the Lamex on 19:26 - Jan 6 with 299 viewsdurham_exile

Two more points dropped at the Lamex on 18:34 - Jan 6 by wessex_exile

Yep, that's pretty much the game I saw too Durham, top work as ever. Sorry I didn't see you at the ground, we were housed at the far end near the drum for most of the match - managed to bump into Noah though. Morecambe and Macclesfield are a bit beyond range so soon after Christmas, but Exeter is a certainty on the 25th - will you be arranging a family visit to Devon around that time?


Wessex a good turnout from the faithful on Saturday. Plenty of songs noise and good support.

The fans deserve better than three successive draws.

Matches I hope to attend between now and 25 April

Morecambe A
Plymouth H
Port Vale A
Salford A
Carlisle A
Bradford A
Walsall A
FGR H

Plus possibly one more home game

UTU's

Durham_exile

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Two more points dropped at the Lamex on 19:34 - Jan 6 with 297 viewswessex_exile

Two more points dropped at the Lamex on 19:26 - Jan 6 by durham_exile

Wessex a good turnout from the faithful on Saturday. Plenty of songs noise and good support.

The fans deserve better than three successive draws.

Matches I hope to attend between now and 25 April

Morecambe A
Plymouth H
Port Vale A
Salford A
Carlisle A
Bradford A
Walsall A
FGR H

Plus possibly one more home game

UTU's


I will definitely look for you at Salford then!

My taxi driver from Chippenham station on Saturday night was a refreshingly 'plain-speaking' Plymouth Argyle fan, 'effing and jeffing all the way home, which was just what I needed to lighten the mood. I was lamenting our solitary point at Stevenage, and he asked how we got on last season - "missed they play-offs by one point" was my reply. "Well there you go then" he replied "there's the point you'll need to make them this time!".

Couldn't argue with his logic

Up the U's
Poll: How will we do in 2016/17
Blog: Letters from Wiltshire #06

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Two more points dropped at the Lamex on 20:54 - Jan 6 with 283 viewsdurham_exile

Two more points dropped at the Lamex on 19:34 - Jan 6 by wessex_exile

I will definitely look for you at Salford then!

My taxi driver from Chippenham station on Saturday night was a refreshingly 'plain-speaking' Plymouth Argyle fan, 'effing and jeffing all the way home, which was just what I needed to lighten the mood. I was lamenting our solitary point at Stevenage, and he asked how we got on last season - "missed they play-offs by one point" was my reply. "Well there you go then" he replied "there's the point you'll need to make them this time!".

Couldn't argue with his logic


Wessex - Plymouth seem to have had a revival with the exception of Swindon at home.

I will watch out for you at Salford.

If driving we are strongly recommended to use the park and ride at Salford.

Anyway fish n chips at Morecambe on Saturday.

UTU's

Durham_exile

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