Carl Marston's Colchester United Talking Points: U's have what it takes to win promotion
PUBLISHED: 11:39 10 February 2019
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Colchester United are playing like a team who can win promotion this season.
Boosted by the recent arrival of three new signings, before the transfer window closed at the end of last month, the U’s are playing with renewed confidence and a dash of flair.
Their last two outings have featured seven goals scored, and none conceded, seeing them rise from eighth to fourth in the League Two table.
Some of the goals netted have been breathtaking – in fact, all three goals scored against Cheltenham Town on Saturday were out of the top drawer.
The strikes of Kane Vincent-Young and Frank Nouble were sensational, while Abo Eisa’s killer third goal was the result of some wonderful build-up from Courtney Senior.
All three goalscorers had also hit the target in the previous weekend’s 4-0 thumping of Northampton Town at Sixfields, when Sammie Szmodics also found the back of the net.
Bang in form, the U’s are serious promotion contenders.
Saturday was terrific entertainment, for U’s home fans and any neutral who happened to find their way to the Jobserve Community Stadium.
The goals certainly deserve more than a passing mention – they were all conversation stoppers.
The opening goal was a stunning strike.
Vincent-Young advanced from the half-way line on a surging run through the middle and, after advancing about 15 yards, he let fly with a thunderous long-range shot which flew like a bullet past a dazed Scott Flinders.
After going 31 games without a goal this season, left-back Vincent-Young was therefore able to celebrate his second goal in as many matches, following his precise strike at Northampton.
Nouble also made it two goals in two matches, when he doubled the U’s lead with another superb goal in the 43rd minute to notch his sixth of the campaign.
Liverwire Szmodics burst down the right flank and laid the ball into Nouble’s path, on the left-edge of the penalty area. The big striker deceived defender Jordan Forster before crashing home an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net, from 15 yards out.
Crowd-pleaser Eisa followed suit with his second goal in successive weekends, in the 55th minute, to seal the points and so make it a dream first 10 days at the Essex club since his loan switch from Shrewsbury Town.
Senior did all the groundwork, beating three defenders on a mazy run before unselfishly sliding the ball across for Eisa to sweep home from close-in.
Remarkably, Cheltenham Town, who were on the crest of a wave after back-to-back wins over fellow strugglers Macclesfield and Yeovil, failed to muster a serious shot all afternoon.
That speaks volumes for how well the U’s played, as a team, and how well the back four operated to protect keeper Rene Gilmartin.
This was the U’s 14th clean-sheet, from 32 league games, an impressive ratio, and their second in a row following the shut-out at Sixfields.
For Gilmartin, it was his eighth clean-sheet from 15 league appearances, although in truth he had virtually nothing to do on Saturday.
The Robins pinged over a few early crosses, and a couple of early corners, most of which were blown off course in the blustery conditions. The only real moment when the U’s goal was threatened came in the 22nd minute when Ryan Jackson intervened with a terrific block-tackle to thwart leading scorer Luke Varney, on the edge of the six-yard box.
Otherwise, the U’s penalty area was a lonely place to be.
One glance at the players sitting on the home bench on Saturday, would have confirmed that the U’s have the strength in depth to sustain their promotion bid during the last third of the season.
Second leading scorer Luke Norris, back from an ankle injury, did not even get on the pitch, while fellow target man Mikael Mandron only appeared with six minutes remaining.
New loan signing Callum Roberts was another unused sub, as was experienced centre-half Tom Eastman, and there was not even a place in the 18-man squad for midfielder Brandon Comley.
True, the U’s did suffer an early blow with Harry Pell’s exit due to a hamstring injury, but the U’s do have cover in this department.
Yes, the U’s mean business.