Colchester United’s ‘dirty dozen’ of the last 20 months

Colchester United lost 4-0 to Notts County at a home match on Saturday, 14 December.
Players get in

Colchester United lost 4-0 to Notts County at a home match on Saturday, 14 December. Players get into an argument during the match.

The football world has gone statistics mad in recent years, with more than just the number of goals totalled up at the end of each match.

Professional clubs analyse every aspect of the game, from goal attempts to corner kicks, possession percentage to completed passes, kilometres run to tackles made.

Colchester United are no different, but I have unearthed one glaring statistic that has perhaps been over-looked – and it’s a depressing one.

The U’s have not won a game by more than a two-goal margin since defeating Preston 3-0 at home on March 3, 2012.

Taken in isolation, that doesn’t stand up to much, but when you consider that during the intervening period (of nearly 22 months), the U’s have lost by three or more goals on 12 occasions, it becomes quite alarming.

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It suggests, quite correctly, that while the U’s have been lacking a ruthless streak – a fact acknowledged by experienced defender Magnus Okuonghae in the East Anglian Daily Times earlier in the week – they have, by contrast, also been collapsing to heavy defeats on an all-too-regular basis.

In short, when United get their noses in front, they find it very hard to kill off teams.

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Joe Dunne’s men have been pegged back to draws, from winning positions, too often this season, and their three wins from 23 games have all been by a slender one-goal margin.

Unfortunately, when the chips are down in games, the U’s have tended to fold like a pack of cards.

That was the case in last Saturday’s home shocker against Notts County, when the then-bottom club romped to an easy 4-0 win.

Second-half collapses characterised the club’s two early exits from the cup last autumn, 5-1 at home to Peterborough in the Capital One Cup, and 4-1 at Dagenham & Redbridge in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.

Last season was also littered with heavy defeats, both at home and on the road.

And it’s important to realise that those 12 big losses, since their own last comfortable win over Preston, do not include the infamous 5-1 defeat at MK Dons (on November 19, 2011) or the devastating 6-1 home defeat to Stevenage on Boxing Day.

Both those results arrived before the win over the Lilywhites.

So it is clear, then, that the U’s have a two-pronged problem.

As Okuonghae recognised this week, Colchester have to be more ruthless in front of goal to kill off teams, especially when they get into a winning position.

And they also have to stay resilient when they fall behind, something they had managed with some success up until Saturday’s demoralising defeat.

It will be interesting to see what happens in the U’s next game, at Oldham Athletic tomorrow.

Below is the “dirty dozen” of games lost by more than two goals since March, 2012:

1 4-1 at Bury, Apr 9, 2012

2 4-1 at Notts County, May 5, 2012

3 3-0 at Yeovil, Aug 14, 2012

4 4-0 at Tranmere, Sept 1, 2012

5 5-1 at MK Dons, Nov 24, 2012

6 3-0 at Crawley, Jan 1, 2013

7 3-0 at Sheffield United, Feb 16, 2013

8 1-5 v Tranmere, Feb 23, 2013

9 1-5 v Peterborough, Aug 6, 2013

10 4-1 at Dagenham & Redbridge, Sept 3, 2013

11 0-3 v Wolves, Oct 5, 2013

12 0-4 v Notts County, Dec 14, 2013

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