Best-ever finish - but Parky wants more
COLCHESTER United are already assured of their highest-ever finish in the club's 69 years as a professional club.Whatever the outcome of the U's final two matches, at home to Rotherham tomorrow and at Yeovil on the final day of the regular season, Phil Parkinson's men can finish no lower than fourth in League One.
By Carl Marston
COLCHESTER United are already assured of their highest-ever finish in the club's 69 years as a professional club.
Whatever the outcome of the U's final two matches, at home to Rotherham tomorrow and at Yeovil on the final day of the regular season, Phil Parkinson's men can finish no lower than fourth in League One.
United's previous highest finish in the Football League pyramid was fifth at this same level (third national tier) in 1958-59 and 1979-80.
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Parkinson said last night: “Of course, I am very proud and pleased that we will finish so high.
“I'm delighted that we have already booked our place in the play-offs but I can't lie to you and say that I don't want more.
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“We are in a very good position, and we want to get promoted automatically. We want to go one better and finish in the top two.
“Rotherham and Yeovil are scrapping for points near the bottom, so they will be two very hard, tight games. In fact, every game is difficult at this time of the season,” confirmed Parkinson.
The U's began life as a professional club in 1937 by competing in the Southern League. They joined the Football League in 1950, and seven years later had the distinction of finishing third in the old Division Three South.
The Football League had decided to scrap the regionalised Third Division South and North Divisions for the start of the 1958-59 season and the U's responded by finishing fifth behind champions Plymouth.
Benny Fenton was the boss and it was also the season that Arsenal were held to a 2-2 draw at Layer Road in an FA Cup fourth round tie before winning the replay 4-0 at Highbury.
The U's squad of 1979-80, under Bobby Roberts, equalled this club record finish by again filling fifth spot in the old Division Three, behind champions Grimsby. However, despite matching the club record, it was still considered a season of disappointment, because for a long while the U's looked good bets for promotion to the second tier of the Football League. However, they only won two of their last 13 league matches from the end of February.
Back to the present, and United are currently sitting in the second automatic promotion spot, three points behind leaders Southend, and one point clear of third-placed Brentford. Any slip-up by the U's tomorrow, and it is likely that either the Bees (at home to Hartlepool) or Huddersfield (at home to Yeovil) will take advantage.
The early indications are that Parkinson might stick with the same starting line-up from last weekend's gutsy 2-1 win at Bournemouth.
Dean Gerken looks set to continue in goal, due to Aidan Davison's recent bout of food poisoning, while Blackpool loanee Scott Vernon would be very unlucky to lose his place after scoring the winner at Dean Court.
The Chris Iwelumo-Vernon combination is therefore the probable front-line against Rotherham, although Ipswich Town loanee Billy Clarke has recovered from a tweaked hamstring that caused him to miss the trip to Bournemouth. Parkinson said: “But Billy (Clarke) has been training this week, and will be added to the squad.”
Visitors Rotherham are just one place and two points above the relegation zone, so they are desperate for points. The Millers have problems in midfield, due to Stephen Quinn's return to Sheffield United after his 93-day loan spell, and the continued absence of Michael Keane due to suspension.