Barnet 0 Colchester United 1: Carl Marston’s 5 Talking Points
Carl Marston’s Five Talking Points from yesterday’s League Two showdown at The Hive, which ended in a 1-0 away win for Colchester United,
The U’s had played well, and defended superbly, during the first three-quarters of the match, but they had rarely looked like scoring a winning goal.
Cue the introduction of Sammie Szmodics – suddenly, the U’s had a match-winner on the pitch.
Barnet’s early chances had completely dried up, with the U’s taking a grip of the game, but it required Szmodics, on as a 73rd minute substitute, to apply the killer instinct.
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Unleashed into the fold for his first league appearance, since damaging ankle ligaments during the 2-2 draw at Grimsby towards the end of September, Szmodics was soon making up for lost time.
Szmodics forced keeper Jamie Stephens into his first real save of the afternoon, via a goal-bound shot within two minutes of his introduction, but he gave Stephens no chance with his 84th minute winner.
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The game had been crying out for that bit of quality, and a more positive approach.
Szmodics provided it, making room for himself outside the penalty area before curling a powerful shot into the bottom corner of the net.
It was a finish worthy of winning any game.
Boss John McGreal made a point of complimenting the U’s travelling supporters, who arrived at The Hive in their numbers.
They made their presence felt all afternoon, cheering on their team and giving them terrific vocal support.
So it was extremely appropriate that Szmodics should score down the end accommodating the away fans – almost as a ‘thank you’ message to the 610 who had made the short journey to North London from Essex.
The U’s now have a very settled three-man defence, featuring Tom Eastman, Ryan Inniss and Frankie Kent.
And they hardly put a foot wrong against the Bees.
Eastman was his usual powerful self, Kent made some vital blocks and interceptions, and Inniss ruled the air-waves.
The return of danger-man John Akinde, after injury, could have caused problems for the visitors, but the big man was kept quiet. In fact, he never had the sniff of a chance.
It is no coincidence that the U’s improved away form, amounting to a run of five games unbeaten, has featured three clean-sheets, at Yeovil, Coventry and now Barnet.
ON THE RISE
The U’s were down in 21st spot, just seven weeks ago, but now they are up into the top 10. A haul of 17 points from a possible 24, in their last eight games, is certainly promotion form, and match-winner Szmodics himself believes that the team is good enough to win automatic promotion, not just reach the play-offs.
McGreal’s side are in 10th place, but only two points adrift of the play-off zone, and eight off the top three.
Next Saturday, they play host to lowly Morecambe, who only scrambled clear of the bottom two with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Wycombe over the weekend.
So the U’s will have a golden chance to further strengthen their position, before they begin a tough period of fixtures, which include showdowns with leaders Notts County and third-placed Exeter City.
BEES NOT BUZZING
On Saturday’s display, Barnet look likely candidates for relegation out of the Football League. They have now not won any of their last 13 matches, in all competitions, spanning more than two months.
Their play was rather predictable, and very direct, and they didn’t seem to have a Plan B when Plan A was clearly going nowhere.
Not surprisingly, Saturday’s defeat has seen Rossi Eames’ men slide into the bottom two.