Colchester United: Five talking points from the weekend

Stevenage player Josh McQuoid (10) beats his own keeper, Chris Day, for an own goal to give the U's

Stevenage player Josh McQuoid (10) beats his own keeper, Chris Day, for an own goal to give the U's a 3-0 lead on Saturday. The U's went on to win 4-0. Picture: STEVE WALLER - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Colchester United were in cruise control on Saturday. Here are five talking points from Saturday’s superb 4-0 home win over Stevenage.

Chris Porter steers the ball towards the back of the net, from Sean Murray's initial shot, to double

Chris Porter steers the ball towards the back of the net, from Sean Murray's initial shot, to double the U's lead just before the half-hour mark. Picture: STEVE WALLER - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

In a nutshell

Colchester United played like serious promotion contenders on Saturday, as they breezed to their joint biggest victory of the season.

In fact, John McGreal’s men were a revelation.

They were certainly unrecognizable from the side that had flopped at Notts County just seven days earlier, in a 3-1 defeat.

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Stevenage began the day in fourth spot, nursing slender hopes of even gate-crashing the top three, but they were made to look very ordinary.

The U’s scored all four of their goals inside the first 38 minutes, to kill off the game as a contest.

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There was an 11th goal of the season for Brennan Dickenson, thanks to a lethal shot into the roof of the net on 11 minutes, and a 15th goal of the campaign for Chris Porter, who diverted home Sean Murray’s shot from close-in after George Elokobi’s header had come back off the far post.

Porter’s goal arrived in the 29th minute, and 2-0 had become 4-0 just nine minutes later via own goals from Josh McQuoid and Charlie Lee.

The first of these was comical. Tom Eastman flicked on a corner, and McQuoid somehow construed to nudge the ball over the line, surrounded by team-mates.

Lee’s own goal was more unfortunate, as man-of-the-match Tarique Fosu’s shot ballooned off the midfielder and flew into the net, off the far upright.

The second half was almost a non-event, but by then the damage had been done.

Home delights

The U’s look a completely different team at home, as opposed to away. The contrast is acute.

Saturday’s success was their 10th win in their last 12 home matches, a terrific record only bettered in League Two by Doncaster Rovers, who wrapped up promotion over the weekend, with five games to spare.

It is certainly the best home campaign since the U’s moved to the Weston Homes Community Stadium, from Layer Road, back in 2008.

Ironically, though, their last away win was a 4-2 triumph at Stevenage, on New Years’s Eve. Since then, they have failed to win in eight games on the road, taking three points from a possible 24.

So why these extremes?

McGreal, and his players, have often been asked this question in recent weeks, and no on has been able to come up with an explanation.

I would suggest that it is a mental approach to games.

The U’s are brimming with confidence on home turf, usually getting on the front foot from the first whistle. Away, they tend to sit back, perhaps be over-cautious, and therefore almost always concede the first goal.

That’s why it is a major plus that three of the U’s last five matches are at the Community Stadium.

Fosu’s recall

Tarique Fosu, for Rekeil Pyke, was the one change to the team from the previous weekend’s 3-1 defeat at Notts County.

It proved to be an inspired change.

Fosu sparkled in an attacking midfield role, operating in a central position behind Chris Porter and Drey Wright.

Stevenage found the Reading loanee to be a tricky customer to mark, and almost impossible to keep quiet.

He had a major part to play in the first and fourth goals, peppered the target with shots of his own, and won countless free-kicks conceded by frustrated Boro defenders.

Magnificent Walker

He did not have much to do, but keeper Sam Walker was still the major player in probably the key moment in the match.

The U’s were only 1-0 up when Stevenage striker Matt Godden, the third highest scorer in League Two, had a clear sight of goal on 27 minutes.

But Walker denied him with a wonderful double save. He parried the initial angled drive from Godden, and then smothered an equally ferocious follow-up shot.

The U’s doubled their lead, just two minutes later, and they never looked back. Walker certainly deserved the clean-sheet, his 11th of the season.

Next up

Doncaster visit on Good Friday.

The Yorkshire pace-setters wrapped up promotion on Saturday, thanks to a 1-0 win over Mansfield, so they should be in a party-mood against the U’s.

That might work in the hosts’ favour, playing a team already guaranteed promotion.

On the other hand, the pressure will be off Darren Ferguson’s men, which could see them play with freedom.

Whatever the case, if should be an Easter extravaganza.

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