Colchester United need to stop giving teams late chances to score goals

Billy Bingham and Jake Hessenthaler congratulate Max Ehmer after the defender had scored a late winn

Billy Bingham and Jake Hessenthaler congratulate Max Ehmer after the defender had scored a late winner for Gillingham, from a late free-kick conceded by the U's on Tuesday night.. Picture: STEVE WALLER - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Colchester United are picking up an unwanted habit of conceding late goals.

The U’s have enjoyed a mini-revival over the last few games, but they should still have finished with a better haul than just one win, one draw and one defeat.

Having leaked an 89th minute equaliser against Grimsby last week, to drop two points in a 2-2 draw at Blundell Park, the U’s followed up their fine 1-0 away win at Yeovil last Saturday with an injury-time defeat to Gillingham in the Checkatrade Trophy on Tuesday night.

Once again they were undone by a late goal, Max Ehmer’s 91st minute free-kick deceiving keeper Sam Walker and sneaking in at the near post.

Thankfully, there were no league points at stake in this game, but John McGreal’s men will now have to beat Southend at Roots Hall in their last Southern Group B match on November 7 to guarantee progress into the knock-out stages of the competition.

McGreal himself was disappointed with his side’s failure not to even force a draw against the struggling Gills, who had mustered just one win all season in League One.

“We should certainly have taken more from the game,” insisted McGreal.

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“We are just giving teams opportunities to get shots in on goal, late in games. The same was the case at Grimsby the previous Tuesday.

“It’s a free shot at goal, at the end, and it was a silly free-kick to give away.

“Gillingham had lost a few games of late, with things also happening off the pitch (manager Ady Pennock recently leaving, by mutual consent) so it was always likely to be a tight game.

“Gillingham matched us up, all over the pitch, but we’re going to get games like this, and we’ve got to take something from them.

“We’ve got to learn from it, to get something out of these tight games. We are giving away free-kicks too often, with players diving in and not defending properly. That is costing us.

“We’ve got to regroup and go again,” added McGreal.

The U’s entertain Mansfield Town on Saturday, the second of four home games during October. The Stags have started the season well, and are just one place outside the play-offs.

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