Colchester United v Barnet: U’s cannot afford to lose any more ground
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We are not quite entering the final furlong, but Colchester United cannot afford to lose any more ground in the League Two play-off race.
A dozen games left equates to 36 points up for grabs, but the U’s need to manoeuvre themselves into a stronger position it they are not to repeat the disappointment of last season.
John McGreal’s men finished just one point and one place below the play-off zone in 2016-17, a frustrating end to McGreal’s first season at the helm.
As it stands, they are in a very similar situation this season.
With 12 games left last term, the Essex club were ninth on 50 points.
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At the same stage, before this afternoon’s visit of basement dwellers Barnet, the U’s are in 11th spot, again on 50 points.
However, whereas the class of 2016-17 were only two points off the play-offs after 34 games (seventh-placed Stevenage were on 52 points), this time they are a more distant five points adrift.
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The U’s actually enjoyed a good end to the 2016-17 campaign, collecting 19 points from their last dozen fixtures, and being unbeaten in their last five.
They will have to be just as successful this time around, to make the play-offs.
“You can dress up the figures any which way you like, but we have only lost four games in 21 matches,” explained McGreal.
“I’m a glass half full kind of person, rather than a half-empty guy.
“There are lots of positives to take, going into the last dozen games. We want to try and get into the play-offs.”
It was Blackpool who pipped the U’s to seventh spot a year ago, and ironically the Seasiders went on to clinch promotion via the play-offs.
Certainly, the U’s will need to show a drastic improvement on last weekend’s 1-0 flop at lowly Crewe.
“It was a bit sombre on the Monday morning, but we then had a good chat about what we wanted to achieve this season,” continued McGreal.
“There have been a lot of good performances during our recent run (just four defeats in 21 matches).
“Last weekend should really have been a nil-nil (0-0), but we ended up not even taking a point.
“There has been a siege mentality about us, we are a close-knit group and we want that to continue.”