Colchester United v Barnet: U’s cannot afford to lose any more ground

Colchester United players celebrate with their fans after Sammie Szmodics had fired home the winner

Colchester United players celebrate with their fans after Sammie Szmodics had fired home the winner in a 1-0 success at Barnet last November. Picture: PAGEPIX - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

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.

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.”

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