Colchester United are good enough to be in the top half of the table, says Tom Eastman
Tom Eastman is Colchester United’s longest-serving player, from the current squad, although he has spent most of his time battling to fend off relegation.
But the U’s stalwart centre-half, who moved along the A12 from Ipswich Town to Colchester in the summer of 2011, is looking forward to a change of emphasis this term.
Eastman believes that the U’s can enjoy a more productive campaign, in terms of league position, following an impressive seven-point haul from their last three matches.
Tony Humes’ men were in a familiar position, less than a fortnight ago, stuck in the relegation zone after a winless start to the season stretching to eight league and cup games.
But a dramatic 3-3 draw at Chesterfield, followed by back-to-back wins at Sheffield United (3-2) and over then-league leaders Gillingham (2-1), has propelled the U’s up to 13th in the table.
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They are still leaking too many goals, for comfort, but Eastman is feeling optimistic for the months ahead.
“I think we are good enough to be in the top half of the table, as our last three performances have proved,” insisted Eastman.
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“We’ve brought in Marvin (Sordell), who is an exciting signing, and we still have Ports (Chris Porter) to come back from injury, so we have a really strong team.
“In fact, looking at the squad, we’ve got cover for every position, so it’s one of the strongest squads we have had for quite a while.
“We’ve just had three tough games in a row, and we’ve got seven points.
“Before these games, we’d have taken four or five points, so credit to the boys and credit to the manager for keeping us going.
“If we can play like that again, at Swindon on Saturday, then we should be OK,” added Eastman.
Clacton-born Eastman has been a mainstay of the U’s defence for the last four years, and in fact was ever-present last season, playing every minute of every match.
The 23-year-old was rested for the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy defeat at Northampton, but has otherwise again been a permanent fixture in the U’s back four this term.
Once again, he has had to adapt to playing alongside a number of different defensive partners, in the shape of Alex Wynter, George Elokobi and Frankie Kent inside the first two months of the campaign.
The U’s have certainly had their share of defensive problems, and have already conceded 16 goals from their first eight league games – that is the worst record in League One.
But their free-scoring exploits at the other end of the pitch, with 13 goals netted – the best outside the top 10 – see them sitting comfortably in mid-table.
“I think we are getting there, defensively,” continued Eastman.
“And we’ve been scoring quite a few goals lately, which hasn’t happened before, so that does help.
“We’ve only kept one clean-sheet (goalless home draw against Oldham), which is not really like us, because in recent seasons we have been really solid at the back.
“But if we can keep it down to conceding one goal, I’m sure we can score two or three goals at the other end,” concluded Eastman.