Colchester United comment: two points dropped or one point gained?
PUBLISHED: 12:00 06 January 2019
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Two points dropped, or one point gained?
That’s a tricky question to answer, after Saturday’s 3-3 home draw.
Before the game, Colchester United would have considered a home draw against an out-of-sorts Notts County, who were rock bottom of the Football League, and had won just once in their previous 14 league games, as definitely two points spurned.
And yet, when the U’s shipped three goals in a crazy 15-minute spell to trail the Magpies 3-1, they would probably have taken a draw as a point gained.
Overall, Saturday’s rip-roaring comeback in a 3-3 draw could prove to be more important than the materialistic value of a mere point.
It should do wonders for confidence and morale, after what had been a rather bleak Christmas period, culminating in that demoralising 2-0 defeat at 10-man Crawley Town on New Year’s Day.
A home defeat at the hands of the basement dwellers, just four days after the psychological blow of losing at Crawley, might have knocked the stuffing out of the U’s promotion cause.
But as it is, they can take heart from their stirring comeback against Notts County. They remain eighth in the table, in the promotion hunt, and they have proved to themselves that they still have what it takes to make this a successful season.
Goals, goals, goals
Before Saturday, the U’s had failed to score more than one goal in a match for the last 15 outings, 13 of them in the league.
They couldn’t stop scoring at the start of this season, slamming six past Crewe and netting three against the likes of Chelmsford, Cheltenham, Oldham, Yeovil and Crawley.
But the goals had dried up, since the mid-October, only to finally return against the Magpies.
True, the second goal was a lucky ricochet, off Mikael Mandron, and the third was from a rather soft penalty, netted by Harry Pell, but the U’s are finally back among the goals.
The aforementioned Mandron, preferred to Luke Norris up top, certainly took his chance with both hands and, as has happened in the past, Sammie Szmodics looked a different player with Mandron in the starting line-up.
While the U’s had been struggling to score goals at one end, the reason they had spent so long in the top three was down to a sound defence.
That’s why Saturday was so surprising, especially the nature of the three goals conceded, in such a short space of time.
Boss McGreal slammed his side’s defending for all three goals, with possession lost in their own half of the pitch, but hopefully that first-half horror show was just a one-off.
It was only the fourth time in 27 matches that the U’s had leaked at least three goals, following on from the 3-3 draw at Oldham, 3-1 loss at Stevenage and 4-0 hammering at Carlisle.
The suspended Frankie Kent was a miss in the heart of defence, while skipper Luke Prosser did not look fully fit after picking up a quad injury at Crawley in midweek.
But these should not be excuses.
McGreal put it down to “a lack of concentration,” a trait not shared by the best teams in the division.
Here are how the six goals came about:
1-0: It didn’t take long for the U’s to get their noses in front, Sammie Szmodics steering home his ninth goal of the season with a deadly finish in the eighth minute, from Courtney Senior’s accurate pass.
1-1: Ex-Ipswich striker Jon Stead swept home the equaliser on 16 minutes, nodding home at the far post after the U’s had failed to clear David Vaughan’s corner. It was his ninth goal of the season.
1-2: County took the lead on 18 minutes. Again the U’s defence was exposed as Andy Kellett squared across the face of goal for an onrushing Dan Jones to slam the ball into the roof of the net.
1-3: The visitors opened up a two-goal margin in the 31st minute. The U’s lost the ball in their own half and Kristian Dennis cracked a left-footed shot beyond keeper Rene Gilmartin.
2-3: The U’s grabbed themselves a lifeline in first-half injury-time, with Mandron netting only his second goal of the season. He knew little about it, as defender Richard Duffy’s attempted clearance, from Ryan Jackson’s cross, ricocheted off Mandron’s shins and past keeper Fitzsimons.
3-3: Senior was adjudged to have been fouled in the box, and Harry Pell stepped up to calmly slot home them a 67th minute penalty.