Chris Porter taking a big load off Colchester United’s shoulders

Macauley Bonne (right) and Tom Lapslie (left) celebrate on Saturday

Macauley Bonne (right) celebrates scoring for Colchester United. - Credit: Su Anderson

Colchester United’s young guns have been in the spotlight, as the U’s continue to pursue a policy of giving their Academy products a chance to shine.

But one of the older brigade has played a key role in guiding the Essex club out of the relegation zone – Chris Porter.

The 31-year-old centre-forward has certainly made a big impact, since he made the move from Sheffield United just over a month ago.

Signing an 18-month contract, on January 22, Porter has started his U’s career with a bang, scoring three goals in his first seven appearances.

Just as importantly as scoring these goals, Porter has also given a new dimension to the team’s attacking play – suddenly, they have a target man to aim for, a luxury that they had not had since the presence of Jabo Ibehre up top during previous manager Joe Dunne’s regime.

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Three of Porter’s seven appearances have coincided with Colchester wins. This is a ratio that, if continued, will see the Essex club end the season out of the bottom four.

Manager Tony Humes has certainly been delighted with the impact that Porter has made during his first month with the U’s, his arrival following hot on the heels of Freddie Sears’ move to Ipswich Town.

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“Chris settled in very, very quickly, and he has led the line well for us,” enthused Humes.

“It helped that he got off the mark (at Bradford) early on, even though we didn’t put pressure on him to score. Certainly in terms of giving us more of an outlet, with the physical aspect that he has, he gives us more of a mix to our game.

“We did have the mix when we had smaller players, because we could actually play a little bit quicker and still play over the top, but Chris gives us that outlet where we can play up to and get support from different areas.

“Chris is also an experienced head. As well as being a different type of player, he brings his experience of many of years of competitive football.

“You have got to mix it, week in week out, which means having a different dimension to our game. Chris’ presence means it get us thinking that we can get forward earlier at times, and exploit the pace we have at the top of the pitch,” added Humes.

Porter’s U’s debut coincided with a 2-0 win over Leyton Orient, halting a run of five home league defeats on the spin.

He celebrated his first goal, in his second outing, with a wonderful long-range strike in a 1-1 draw at promotion-chasing Bradford, and also netted from distance in his next game, a 3-2 home defeat by Crewe.

He chalked up his 400th career appearance, in a 1-0 win at one of his former clubs, Oldham Athletic, before turning to lash home his third Colchester goal in last weekend’s 3-2 win over leaders Bristol City.

In this game, Porter had a helping hand up front. Rather than ploughing a lone furrow, like in his previous six outings, he had Macauley Bonne for company in a 4-4-2 formation.

Porter is again set to lead the U’s front-line, for this afternoon’s tough test at Doncaster Rovers.

Manager Humes could be tempted to revert to a 4-2-3-1 system for this game on-the-road, with Porter again the lone marksman, but the chances are that Bonne will retain his place.

Midfielder Tom Lapslie is the one injury doubt, with a foot problem, from last weekend’s 3-2 win over Bristol City.

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