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Carlisle 1 U's 1 - Durham's View
Sunday, 11th Feb 2018 19:28 by Durham Exile

Sadly, the misery continues, it is now well into three years since I have witnessed a Colchester United victory. I am also becoming desensitised to the disappointment and accepted the result almost with total alacrity.

The day had started well with brighter weather and milder temperatures than of late. Even a delay on the M6 at Junction 41 was managed without drama and I was able to drop Mrs Durham off at Carlisle City Centre for some retail therapy whilst I went to the game.

The official car park at Brunton Park to the right of the Warwick Road end of the ground always has an area subject to flooding and yesterday was no exception. The area was nicely churned up and boggy in parts but at £3 I suppose it represents reasonable value for money.

It should also be noted that the stewards at Carlisle are always very good. Unobtrusive and sensible in the way that they go about their business.

I was in the ground in good time and took my seat. Carlisle is one of those grounds where you could sit with a view of the pitch from some distance behind the goal at the Warwick Road end. Years ago, you could still stand behind the goal, but this has long since been closed to spectators for league games. Indeed, I saw Karl Duguid score his first goal for Colchester whilst standing behind the goal in a 3-1 defeat on a Tuesday evening.

Yesterday the weather was a balmy 9 degrees Celsius and dry at kick off although the breeze made it feel cooler. The pitch was in very good condition.

The attendance was 4,006 of which 144 had made the journey from Colchester (or Sheffield or Durham etc). The faithful were in good voice throughout.

John McGreal had decided to line up 3,4,2,1


Eastman Prosser Kent

Jackson Comley Stevenson Wright

Senior Mandron


Gilmartin Murray Lapslie Inniss Ogedi-Uzokwe Mandeville Szmodics

Frankly I was amazed to see Sean Murray on the bench after reading all the doo and gloom all week about his injury (however he was clearly not fit and should not have played at all).

It was good to see Luke Prosser play, he has been sadly missed. Colchester started brightly and within the first few minutes it was clear that Wolves have a gem of a player in Ben Stevenson. If he only cost them £500k then that was a steal. He is a real midfield footballer, vision brilliant, passing superb and tackling light a dervish. He must be the number one name on JM team sheet from now until the end of the season.

Sam Walker in fluorescent yellow shirt and shorts made two inspired saves in the first half, the first to deny a point-blank range header from Cole Stockton and the second when he palmed away a well struck shot from the same player. In truth therefore, Carlisle could have been two goals to the good before we scored but that would have been injustice because Colchester were clearly the better team in the first half and deserved to go in leading.

The goal was scored on 44 minutes by Courtney Senior, who is skilful, pacy and not afraid to take players on. He deserved his goal for the hard work and yards that he had put in. The ball had been partially saved by the keeper from a shot by Kurtis Guthrie but when it opened up for Senior there was no chance that he would miss. Of course, the assist was an exquisite through ball from Ben Stevenson.

Now yesterday was an opportunity to have a reunion with Jamal Campbell-Ryce (who famously played in that game at Yeovil in May 2006 whilst on loan from Southend). Now without wishing to be unkind age has caught up with him, but he still was able to swing in the cross that led to Stockton’s bullet header which Walker saved in the first half. He tired visibly and was normally second best to Drey Wright who marshalled him on the left side of the field.

Half time and the temperature was dropping slightly. The tea and sausage roll were keenly priced at £3.50 and were not bad with a good meat filling and light pastry for the sausage roll, whilst the tea was hot and warming.

The start of the second half brought no changes from either team. Colchester were still bossing proceedings but with JM influence they were playing deeper which is always a mistake. This is JM’s biggest failing, an inability to see teams off and score a second goal to kill the game.

His first change was an enforced one. Kurtis Guthrie had gone down in the first half and was clearly caught again on the ankle by veteran Clint Hill. He was unable to carry on and after 55 minutes JM brought Mandeville on for his debut. I was screaming for Junior to be introduced but JM is clearly handling him just like Macca Bonne and limiting his game time to only a few minutes.

Now Liam Mandeville was described by JM as a one on three man so watch out Crewe, but I have to say he never got into the game and looked lost at times.

The lively Senior was substituted on 72 minutes by Sammie Szmodics. The £1m pound man was totally ineffectual and added nothing to the attacking play.

Now as Colchester played deeper, and Carlisle were encouraged forward we conceded two free kicks on the edge of the box. The first was slightly to the left of the goal just on the edge of the box and the dead ball specialist Devitt struck the first effort top Walker’s right (as we were looking at it) and it clipped the top of the bar.

I was beginning to dream of a victory and another Away win for the U’s. Could the jinx be beaten? Sadly, it was not to be.

The second dangerous one was almost dead centre just on the edge of the “D” and this time Devitt curled the ball past Walker and into the top left-hand corner of the goal on 79 minutes. In fairness it wa s a magnificent free kick and Walker had no chance.

Now had JM already decided to make his third change before the free kick was awarded. I don’t know, but he then brought Ben Stevenson off for Sean Murray on 80 minutes. I suspect that this was a shut-up shop move (after the horse had bolted to mix metaphors). I do not think that Murray was fit, and he could have brought Marmite on instead for the vital last ten minutes.

Ironically Colchester then decided to have a go for the winner. Mikael Mandron (who the Colchester supporter from Sheffield told me we had paid £500k for!!!) started to look far more positive and weaved around a couple of defenders before striking the right-hand post with a fierce drive.

Sadly, it wasn’t to be, and another two points were dropped from a winning position.
The final whistle was greeted like a victory by the Carlisle supporters. The faithful accepted the result and I was resigned to yet another game without seeing the U’s win.

Plaudits; Ben Stevenson is an outstanding footballer and his quality showed, he will surely grace the Premier League with Wolves and at £500k they have a real class act and a bargain to boot. Courtney Senior is superb and should play every game. He is an exciting talent.

Luke Prosser was impressive and back to his best, whilst Frankie Kent is developing into a very good defender. Tom Eastman had another solid game, but I do not understand why he needs to find himself on the right wing when he is neither suited to such a position nor capable of storming down the wing.

Brickbats; Comley was too easily dispossessed yesterday at times and when he allowed the ball to roll under his foot in the first half a dangerous opportunity was presented to the Carlisle forwards.

Drey Wright’s position in the team must be threatened by a fit again Olamide Shodipo and definitely when the long-awaited return from injury of Brennan Dickenson occurs. Wright seems to have lost pace and he has no end product. I thought that he was awful.
Guthrie is now set for another spell on the sidelines which must afford Junior his chance in the first team.

Kane Vincent-Young was also missed yesterday, I do hope that he is not injured.
Szmodics had little time to influence the game but looked out of sorts and I think the transfer talk has impacted upon him and his game. He need to get back to basic and find his goal scoring boots again.

The U’s remain 11th and have only 14 games left to secure the 29 points needed to achieve a top seven finish.

JM has some thinking to do ahead of Tuesday’s game against another stuttering team in Coventry City who lost to Accrington in front of over 28,000 at the Ricoh. One thing is certain, three points is an absolute must.

The final 14 matches from which 29 points must be garnered:

Coventry H
Crewe A
Barnet H
Morecambe A
Mansfield A
Yeovil H
Stevenage A
Luton H
Forest Green A
Accrington H
Notts Co H
Lincoln A
Swindon H
Exeter A

I am hoping to attend at least 6 of them, surely the jinx can be broken.

Up the U’s

Photo: Action Images

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