Cousins keen to keep the shirt

COLCHESTER United keeper Mark Cousins knows he needs to maintain his high performance levels if he is to stay in the side.

The 23-year-old produced three superb saves from Southampton striker Rickie Lambert on Saturday to help secure the U’s a hard-fought goalless draw and maintain their unbeaten start to the League One season.

With two of those stops coming in stoppage time, Cousins was mobbed by his team mates on the final whistle and even Lambert showed his respect for the performance with a warm handshake.

The Chelmsford-born keeper is all too aware that he will have to keep up such form if he is to prevent Ben Williams – the man who swept the board at the player of the season awards this summer – from returning to the side though.

“The manager said at the start of the season that if you are in the team and playing well then you will keep the shirt,” said Cousins. “So I know I have got to keep putting in the performances to keep Ben out of the side.

“Ben is a great keeper and was superb last season, but I don’t feel any extra pressure because he’s fit again because I’ve had Carl Pentney providing me with competition already.

“I don’t think anyone in this team can take their place for granted because, as Pat (Baldwin) and John (White) showed today there are people waiting to come in and do a job.”

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Cousins spent the whole of last season on the bench and considered a loan move away from the club this summer.

However he was convinced to stay by U’s boss John Ward and ended up being thrust into the first team at the start of this campaign after Williams injured his ankle late on in pre-season.

After some solid displays in the opening four games, Cousins endured a nightmare evening at Premier League side Sunderland in the Carling Cup when he was badly at fault for both of Darren Bent’s goals.

Ward backed his man though and Cousins has repaid his faith with four increasingly good displays.

“I’d been working on free-kicks all week because Joe Dunne had been telling us about (Rickie) Lambert’s danger,” said Cousins, reflecting on his St Mary’s display.

“No matter how many people you put in the wall he still manages to get the ball on target, but thankfully I managed to keep it out.

“Keeping a clean sheet is a great feeling as a keeper. We defend as a team though and I thought the lads in front of me stood up really well.”

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