Colchester United comment: a reminder of the dark days

U's boss John McGreal, who watched his side slump to a 4-0 defeat at Carlisle United. Picture: STEVE

U's boss John McGreal, who watched his side slump to a 4-0 defeat at Carlisle United. Picture: STEVE WALLER - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

There used to be a time when Colchester United were regularly on the wrong end of some heavy defeats, especially when they were low on confidence, short of self-belief and in the midst of a relegation battle.

Jamie Devitt, who scored Carlisle's third in a 4-0 win over Colchester United on Saturday. Picture:

Jamie Devitt, who scored Carlisle's third in a 4-0 win over Colchester United on Saturday. Picture: STEVE WALLER - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

But those dark days, when results such as a 6-0 defeat at MK Dons or a 6-0 wallopinng at Chesterfield (both in 2014-15) were not uncommon, had been kicked into touch in recent years, especially under the stewardship of John McGreal.

That’s what made Saturday’s 4-0 thumping at Carlisle United, who were themselves looking vulnerable after a string of poor home results, so surprising.

The U’s are no longer a third tier club haunted by the threat of relegation. They are a fourth tier outfit with genuine ambitions of returning to League One.

Of course every team has an off-day, now-and-then, and hopefully Saturday’s defeat in Cumbria will prove just that – a low point in an otherwise successful season.


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This was the first time the U’s had leaked more than three goals this term – they had conceded three goals just three times in a match, at Oldham and against Cheltenham in the league, and at Cambridge in the EFL Trophy.

McGreal’s men only let in four goals in one game throughout the whole of last season, a 4-1 home defeat by Cheltenham in January.

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In fact, Saturday’s reverse was their heaviest defeat since a 4-0 loss at Portsmouth in March, 2017.The last time they leaked five goals was in a 5-2 loss at Bury in February 2016.

The first half at Carlisle was actually a tight affair, but the U’s were blown away after the break.

Sammie Szmodics was denied by a great save from keeper Collin in the 27th minute, and that proved a pivotal moment as the U’s were soon trailing to Hallam Hope’s opener on 33 minutes.

Carlisle broke swiftly from a U’s corner to double their lead in the 51st minute, with Jerry Yates in the right place to eventually steer home from a central position.

Jamie Devitt swept home a loose ball, following a good block by Dillon Barnes from Ashley Nadesan’s shot, to put Carlisle 3-0 up just six minutes later.

The U’s misery was completed by Danny Grainger firing home a free-kick with his trusty left foot in the fifth minute of stoppage time to seal a 4-0 home win.

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