Colchester United 2016/17 review: The season in which the U’s rediscovered their mojo
After several years of flirting with relegation, which duly ended in the dreaded drop into the fourth tier last year, this last season has been a breath of fresh air at Colchester United.
True, they were looking nervously over their shoulder during the first half of November, when they slid into the relegation zone on the back of no wins in 10 league games, and no victories in 13 in all competitions.
But John McGreal, in his first season at the helm, gradually guided his new charges out of danger and into the play-off mix, despite a glut of terrible injuries.
Having been relegated from League One last season, U’s fans might have been hoping for an immediate return to the third tier, a feat achieved by Doncaster Rovers, and possibly Blackpool as well if the Seasiders are successful in the play-offs.
But I don’t think there can be too many complaints over an eighth-placed finish, just one point adrift of seventh-placed Blackpool, after a season of consolidation blighted by injuries to so many of their key players.
The U’s season was still alive, going into the final weekend of the campaign, and they were actually sitting in the top-seven until Carlisle sneaked two goals at Exeter to grab a comeback 3-2 win.
In short, after years without it, I think the U’s have rediscovered their mojo again.
- 1 No timescale for when Suffolk road closed due to flooding can reopen
- 2 Fire breaks out at British Sugar Factory
- 3 Case of new Omicron Covid variant identified in Essex
- 4 Nearly 150 homes to go on land no longer needed for jobs
- 5 Face masks to be compulsory in shops and public transport, PM announces
- 6 More than 20 drivers caught at speeds of 100mph on A14 within an hour
- 7 Snow possible overnight as 50mph gusts set to arrive in Suffolk
- 8 'Ipswich did so much for me' - Knight excited for Town return with Crewe after dream Manchester City move
- 9 Van driver jailed after A12 crash left motorist with life-changing injuries
- 10 Hitchhiker died after being hit by lorry wing mirror on A143
THE U’S STATS
Goals: Chris Porter 16 (9th highest in L2), Brennan Dickenson 12 & Kurtis Guthrie 12 (joint 21st)
Assists: Chris Porter 8 (joint 9th highest), Brennan Dickenson 7 (joint 12th)
Fairplay: U’s had the second best record with 68pts (65 bookings and 1 sending-off)
Highest home attendance: 6,504 (v Portsmouth, March 11)
Lowest home attendance: 548 (v Charlton U21s, EFL Trophy, November 8); 2,526 (league, v Mansfield, March 14)
Highest away attendance: 15,967 (at Portsmouth, August 20)
Lowest away attendance: 881 (at Crawley, EFL Trophy, August 30); 1,310 (league, at Accrington Stanley, February 18)
LEAGUE TWO STATS
Goals: John Akinde (Barnet) & John Marquis (Doncaster), both 26
Assists: Sean McConville (Accrington Stanley) 17
Fairplay, worst record: Newport County 125pts (110 yellow cards, 5 reds)
Fairplay, best record: Crewe 53pts (47 yellows, 2 reds)
Highest attendance: 18,625 (Portsmouth v Plymouth)
Lowest attendance: 1,045 (Accrington v Wycombe)
CARL’S PERSONAL TOUCH
Favourite away trip: to Cheltenham (November 22). After 73 days without a win, the chore of a long midweek jaunt to Gloucestershire was made merry by a 3-0 win at Whaddon Road. From then on, all talk was of possible promotion rather than a second successive relegation
Least favourite away trip: to Hartlepool (August 6). The U’s may have drawn on this opening day clash, but I experienced the worst traffic problems of the whole campaign, due to holds-up, road-works and holiday traffic. However, at least I was safely settled into my seat to report on the U’s first goal, netted by Tom Eastman on four minutes.
Best press food: having experienced the delights of hot meals and wonderful cakes during the U’s two years in the Championship (2006-08), the eventual return to League Two via League One has meant a decline in press lounge delights. However, the buffet spread at Grimsby Town was a highlight, closely followed by the one at Crawley.
Most ‘frustrating’ press food: There’s only thing worse than no food, and that’s to miss out on some! Having survived the mammoth journey to Plymouth, and stretched my legs with a stroll into town, I returned to the Home Park press lounge just as the last pie had been claimed!
Morecambe: my (and U’s) first ever visit to the Globe Arena (my 87th of 92 League clubs)
Barnet: my (and U’s) first ever visit to The Hive (opened in 2013).
Leyton Orient: first time I have ever reported on a match lasting four hours, with a two-hour intermission for a pitch invasion, finishing with the last few minutes being played in an empty stadium!
Hartlepool: I visited Hartlepool for my 11th and possibly last time. After 96 years as a Football League club, Pools will be in the National League next season.
Leyton Orient: Saddled with debts, it might be a very long time before the relegated O’s play host to the U’s again.