Morecambe 0 U's 0 - Durham's View
Wednesday, 21st Mar 2018 20:00 by Durham Exile
John Cleese famously stated “It’s not the despair, I can take the despair. It’s the hope I can’t stand.”
That quote from the classic Clockwise 1986 film encapsulates exactly what it is like to be a Colchester United supporter.
I would like to dedicate my thoughts on last night’s game to the 52, who like me suffered for 94 minutes in the cold of the Globe Arena.
Now the evening had started well, a good journey down the M6, off at Junction 35 and a pleasant drive along the A5105 in the Sunshine, through Carnforth (a brief encounter!) along by Bolton le Sands and then a splendid view across Morecambe Bay along Marine Drive. I had taken a friend who actually supports Plymouth Argyle (the Green Army) and who accompanied me last season to the 0-0 draw at the WHCS.
Destination was Atkinson’s Fish “n “Chips shop in Albert Road Morecambe (about 0.7 mile from the Ground). The special was a large Haddock and Chips with bread and butter, a pot of Earl Grey tea for £7.50. Very impressive and enjoyable, the fish was lovely and white in crisp batter with a healthy portion of chips and brown and white bread and butter.
A short drive to the Globe Arena and the car park at Westgate Primary School about 5-minute walk to the stadium. £4 for safe, secure parking and all proceeds ploughed back into the School for the benefit of the pupils. Very good.
So far so good. The 68-page programme offered good value for money, with contributions from Manager Jim Bentley (whose stature resembles that of a night club bouncer) and club captain Michael Rose (and former U’s player). Now the only problem is that the programme notes were clearly penned after their win at Wycombe Wanderers on 24 February and had not been updated to take in their games at Accrington, Crawley and against Exeter. The price of a postponed match I suppose. In some ways of course, it would have been beneficial to the U’s if we had been able to wind back the clock some four games!
The temperature was dropping fast, and the wind was quite keen, but it was dry and the pitch although bumpy had a little more grass on than when I went towards the end of last season.
Clearly John McGreal doesn’t occupy his time reading my outpourings because the U’s lined up thus:
Jackson Eastman Prosser Vincent-Young
Wright Comley Lapslie Szmodics Dickenson
Barnes Shodipo Murray Rooney Mandeville Stevenson Senior
I had recommended the following side in my preamble:
More of that later.
The attendance was a meagre 893 (eight hundred and ninety-three) of which 52 (fifty-two) supporters were cheering on the U’s. The stattos were to inform me later that this was the fourth lowest attendance ever to watch the U’s in a competitive match. I would also question the word competitive!
The 52 were very vocal and supportive throughout and largely a credit to the football club. I say largely because the lone Colchester flag behind the goal stated, “In Cowling we trust.”
Now given that this was a match that the U’s had to win, JM had set up a 4,5,1 with Mandron cutting a loan isolated figure up front. Worse still when we defended a corner or free kick, we always had eleven players behind the ball with no outlet for any counter attacking.
Now despite their recent performances the Shrimps are a very poor team and they offered no threat going forward, the problem is neither did we. Frankie Kent had been due to start the match, but the knee injury sustained against Yeovil ruled him out and Tom Eastman played instead.
The closest that we came to a goal in the first half was when Winnard for Morecambe headed the ball backwards and against his own cross bar with keeper Roche beaten.
Just on half time Sam Walker was called upon to make a double save, first from McGurk and then he quickly recovered to palm Thompson’s shot around the post.
A long stoppage of 4 minutes for an innocuous challenge on the Morecambe midfielder led to only 2 additional minutes being added on.
Half time brought the opportunity for a hot chocolate, which at £1.80 was reasonably priced and steaming hot.
So, second half and no changes, but at least the team were “attacking” the corner where we were gathered. The stand out performers for Colchester for Luke Prosser who only lost out once in a headed duel all night and otherwise was imperious and Kane Vincent-Young. Drey Wright had the best game for the U’s that I have seen this season but still with no end product.
Our best chance second half fell to a Brennan Dickenson direct free kick taken from just in front of where we were sitting. He swung the ball in at pace and it evaded everyone and was heading for the far post when Roche clawed it away.
Still JM did not show any degree of urgency and no players were seen warming up, until a bizarre incident when JM wrestled with the Morecambe right full back who refused to give the ball back to us quickly enough. This prompted vitriol from the faithful aimed at the Shrimp. The ineffectual officials did nothing.
The calls for changes from the faithful grew in intensity but nothing was forthcoming until the 79th minute when Ben Stevenson replaced Comley. The totally ineffectual Szmodics was replaced by Courtney Senior after 84 minutes and the frozen-out Brennan Dickenson was also replaced on 84 minutes by Sean Murray.
Now Stevenson and Senior should have both played from the start. Yes of course it is easy to opine that after the game, but I had included both in my suggested line up the day before.
Senior is quick, pacy and skilful and made more attacking forward runs in the 6 minutes that he was on the field than others had achieved in the previous 80. Likewise, Ben Stevenson who is such a talented footballer and will grace the Premier League next season for Wolves. Why JM doesn’t play him is absolutely beyond me. He displays an ability beyond his tender years and he opens up defence with simple and accurate passes.
Where Junior is I have no clue, but he also seems to have been consigned to the Macca Bonne school of warming the bench by our illustrious manager.
Sean Murray unfortunately has never been the same player since his injury and he added nothing to the attacking intent in the last six minutes.
I would rather have seen the QPR loanee Shodipo given a run out.
Mandron managed one shot in the 94th minute and it went high wide and not very handsome to the right of the goal.
I felt genuinely sorry for some of the players at the full-time whistle. Walker, Prosser, Eastman, Vincent-Young, Senior and Stevenson had all tried hard, but the team has never in my view been so low on confidence and ineffectual generally.
Kurtis Guthrie is a shadow of his former self and clearly on his way out of the club. We will of course see him banging in the goals next season for Pompey or someone similar, but he doesn’t want to play for JM or Colchester.
Mikael Mandron is an enigma. He has scored some goals and notably the winner against Coventry but to quote Mike Bassett’s assistant manager “he couldn’t hit the side of a Renault Espace.”
Here’s the real kicker, we have 8 games to play and victory in all of them will secure a top seven spot. But even if I polished up my rose-tinted specs there is no chance of that happening. Where is my medication!
Worse still we have most of the top six team in the league to play:
Even worse with my unenviable three-year spectating winless record still intact I am planning to go to three of them! Surely things can only get better.
If we are to achieve any more victories this season JM must abandon his ultra-defensive tactics. 4,5,1 with everyone behind the ball for corners and free kicks which is beyond stupid when we need to pressure the opposition.
Grim times indeed.
Up the U’s
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