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Knees-up Mother Brown #7
Written by wessex_exile on Sunday, 17th Sep 2023 14:07

Another Saturday, and another chance to really see what Garner’s U’s are made of. On the evidence from last weekend, it would seem something very special indeed, other Saturday’s perhaps less so. Okay, so Tranmere weren’t that great, but as has already been said, you can only play the team put out against you, and with 8-9 out of 10 performances all over the pitch it was no surprise that three of the U’s, Goodman, Read and Fevrier were named in the EFL Team of the Week. I do wonder, had we had the chance to beat Swindon on day one, whether our momentum might have been different, but nevertheless we are at least off and running now. Mansfield, however, will be a much sterner test than Tranmere, whose manager Ian Dawes joined a long list that have fallen foul of the losing to Col U curse, getting sacked on Monday morning.

[b]The world outside U’s World[/b]
Dipping under the radar on many news feeds, the Met Police have quietly paid out what have been described as ‘substantial’ settlements to two women, Dania Al-Obeid and Patsy Stevenson. The women took part in a March 2021 Clapham Common vigil for Sarah Everard, who was kidnapped, raped and murdered by then serving Met constable Wayne Couzens. The Met were roundly condemned for their heavy-handed response to the vigil, with many hundreds detained and four, including Dania and Patsy, eventually charged with a breach of Covid-19 restrictions – primarily at the behest of former Home Secretary Priti Patel, because that’s exactly what Patel told police chiefs to do ahead of the vigil. New Met police commissioner Mark Rowley hopes the settlement “[i]draws a line under one of the darkest periods of the Met's recent history[/i]”.

The free-loving hippies of California are probably on a bit of a high right now, after their state legislature passed a bill paving the way for Amsterdam-style cannabis cafés. Although grounds for many dubiously legal traffic stops and searches throughout the US, and still illegal under federal law, most states have legalised either or both the medical and recreational use of cannabis. In California, the state legislation made possession of up to an ounce of cannabis for recreational use legal in 2026. The bill, hailed by supporters as a “[i]lifeline for the struggling marijuana industry[/i]”, will now go in front of state governor Gavin Newsom, who has openly stated he wants to see marijuana federally legalised.

In other news, for those who aren’t a fan of the digital revolution, it has been revealed that the use of hard cash for payments rose for the first time in a decade in 2022. However, before you celebrate too much, economists associate that trend with the cost of living crisis and trying to balance budgets using notes and coins rather than plastic. Although amounting to 6.4bn transactions last year, that number is still dwarfed by debit card payments, which accounted for more than half of all payments made in 2020, its highest ever level.

[b]U’s World[/b]
As we revelled in the U’s dominance last Saturday, the only sour note for me was seeing the agony that Arthur Read was in when he went down injured. I confess, I feared the worse, and that we’d lose his midfield influence for at least weeks, if not months to come. Great news then to learn this morning that it was tendon damage rather than a break or dislocation (albeit still clearly incredibly painful), and he’s not only been training this week, will be in the squad for this afternoon. As a side note, credit to the Tranmere physio, who was on the pitch alongside our team as soon as she saw the discomfort Arthur was in – I know it’s probably part of the physio’s code, but still respect to her for being there!

Bradley Ihionvien’s deft chip at the Priestfield has deservedly been named the U’s goal of the month for August, particularly because it was his very first professional goal. Bradley is clearly destined for greater things (hopefully with the U’s) and showed his poachers instinct against Tranmere to make sure John Akinde’s goal-bound effort crossed the line. I’m sure big John won’t begrudge him that one, just so long as he doesn’t make a habit of it.

[b]Definitely worth another watch[/b]

The U’s player ratings for the FC24 game were released during the week, with Manny Egbo our only ‘silver’ rated player on 65 points, though Noah (64), Connor (64) and forgotten man Matt Jay (63) close behind. I’m not sure if anyone saw, but there was a very entertaining video posted on the U’s YouTube channel following the release, with the interviewer capturing the reactions of players as they came off the pitch at Florence Park.

Now, I found this both very amusing and quite informative – (a) just how much attention players give to these ratings, it’s clearly quite a big thing for them, and (b) Joe Taylor’s reaction to staying unmoved on 54 points. It was hilarious, utterly dejected that he hadn’t improved, so much so he belted a spare ball into orbit in frustration. This, I think, was a good insight into the diamond that is Joe – passionate, driven, combative, always wanting to improve, and probably why Luton rate him so highly and he currently has five goals for the U’s barely a month into the season.

[b]Get the League 2 golden boot Joe – that’ll improve your rating no end[/b]

[b]Match of the Day
[i]Wycombe Wanderers v Colchester United
17th October 2009
Coca-Cola Football League One (Tier 3)
Attendance 5,394[/i][/b]

[b]Another I don’t have a programme for, so many thanks to ColUData[/b]

The memorabilia random match selector has chosen one of my many visits to Adams Park for today’s blog, going back to October 2009, and our second season back in League One following our Championship adventure. Although I’ve been to Adams Park since, this is the last visit that’s in my memorabilia archive (i.e. that I have some sort of record for), and the second time that a trip to Adams Park has featured in this series.

I’ve covered the start to this season on a number of occasions, so to avoid too much repetition: Paul Lamberk, 7-1, big club bullyboys Nodge, Joe Dunne, Aidy Boothroyd, big fat compo cheque yadda yadda yadda. Aidy had been in charge for just over a month, and for the first seven matches of his tenure we were unbeaten, winning four and drawing three at Southampton, Swindon and Tranmere, and solidly in the play-offs challenging for automatic promotion. Wycombe on the other hand were having a mare of a season, and with only one win so far in the league, had sacked former manager Peter Taylor just over a week earlier, replacing him with Gary Waddock for his debut in charge against the U’s.

Going into the match, on the very morning of the Adams Park game (and coincidentally Kevin Lisbie’s 31st birthday), Ipswich Town manager Roy ‘Death Stare’ Keane had publicly announced that our star loanee Kevin Lisbie would be recalled early in the January transfer window. Kevin had found this particularly unsettling, stating in an interview after that he had no wish to return to a place on the bench at Portman Road, “[i]I just want to be a part of this team right now because I think that we can get promoted[/i]”. Aidy was equally unimpressed with Keane’s utterly unnecessary brinksmanship but remained professionally tight-lipped about it.

With the possibility of going top with a win, Aidy Boothroyd’s U’s lined up:
1….Ben Williams
4….Magnus Okuonghae (captain)
21..Danny Batth
23..Marc Tierney
25..John White
8….John-Joe O'Toole
10..Kem Izzet
22..Anthony Wordsworth
9….Clive Platt
15..Kayode Odejayi (18. Steven Gillespie 70’)
20..Kevin Lisbie (31. Phil Ifil 83’)

Although the U’s started brightly, with Kayode Odejayi and Anthony Wordsworth combining well to create a chance for John-Joe (who we may well face this afternoon), but he dragged his shot just wide of the post. However, our potential was short-lived, and for a game that was virtually top against bottom, from a neutral perspective it would have been hard to know which was which after that. The U’s were sluggish, second best to too many 50:50 chances, and struggling to get to a grips with a Wycombe side clearly looking to take advantage of the new manager bounce.

That was until goalkeeper Scott Shearer gifted the U’s an undeserved but most welcome opener. Dithering with the ball at his feet well outside the box, Shearer decided to try and dribble past Kayode Odejayi. Kayode was having none of that, took the ball off his toes and gleefully passed it into the empty net. The celebrations in the away end were probably magnified because most knew we’d been under the cosh for much of the game so far.

Although Wycombe responded well to going behind, creating several chances of their own to equalise, not least 18-year old Matt Phillips crossing in from the left to Craig Woodman, whose flashed his effort just wide of Ben Williams goal, when he probably should have scored. However, the U’s had renewed purpose, and JJ was central to much of that, including almost chipping Shearer from 35 yards.

With about ten minutes to go to half time, referee Chris Sarginson went down injured over in front of their main stand. I don’t recall there was any impact with a player, I think he just pulled something? But he stayed down getting treatment for over ten minutes, and still had to be replaced with the 4th official Stephen Phipps. Virtually straight from the restart, Odejayi should have grabbed his second for the U’s, but somehow managed to head over from inside the six yard box. A massive let-off for the Chairboys as it would turn out.

At half time Waddock made the first change (apart from the ref), bringing on Matt Bloomfield to replace injured Marlon Pack, which swung the game in their favour. From then on, it was the U’s for the most part defending their slender lead, just about keeping Wycombe at bay (that and some wayward finishing from the Chairboys). However, it was Odejayi again who nearly scored the next goal, bringing out a smart save from Shearer to keep out his stinging shot from a Wordsworth knock down. In keeping with the off-field feisty atmosphere, JJ and Woodman then both saw yellows after a scuffle in the Wycombe penalty area.

The replacement referee was also having an influence on the game, denying what looked to me like a clear penalty for Wycombe. Instead, and to the fury of the home support, he booked second sub Jon-Paul Pittman for simulation when for all the world it seemed to be a trip from JJ. Again, in the 82nd minute he repeated his ineptitude, only booking John White for hauling back Pittman when he was clear through on goal.

We were riding our luck now, but could it last? Sadly not, as three minutes from time Bloomfield delivered a perfect 60 yard pass right into the path of onrushing Pittman, who took one touch and buried his chance past the dive of Williams. And then on 90 minutes the villain turned hero, as somehow Shearer managed to block a deflected cross going in off Matt Harrold for an own goal. An injury time appeal for own penalty, with our supporters screaming for it, also fell on Mr Phipps deaf ears, and the game finished 1-1. Overall not a bad point, but it could have been worse (or better).

[b]Wycombe Wanderers 1 (Pittman 87’) Colchester United 1 (Odejayi 23’)[/b]

Enough about the U’s closing out the season, as we know we fell away badly towards the end, to finish only 8th in a season that had promised so much. However, for Wycombe, they would have gladly swapped places, finishing in 22nd place, and relegated alongside Gillingham, dear friends Southend and Stockport County, who finished a whopping 25 points from safety.

Stockport spent the entire season under administration, and from mid-November also bottom of the league, and in December were forced to sell their own training ground to make ends meet. That wasn’t before their assistant manager John Ward left to take up the same role at Colchester under Aidy Boothroyd. This was the last time the Hatters would be in the third tier of English Football.

Despite Roy Keane’s announcement, Kevin Lisbie stayed with the U’s for the entire season, and finished our leading goal scorer for the second time in his career. Much as we would have loved to sign him, Keane put Lisbie out on loan again the following season, this time at Millwall of all places. Keane himself had been signed on a two-year contract at Portman Road, but midway through that following season was sacked as Ipswich dropped to 21st place in the Championship.

Amazingly, the match highlight reel from Adams Park is still available on YouTube, though the quality from 14 years ago does show its age.

[b]Up the U’s![/b]

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