Coyne targets clean-sweep

COLCHESTER United have six home games left, and defender Chris Coyne is targeting a clean-sweep of six wins to stage a dramatic late surge to safety.

Carl Marston

By Carl Marston

COLCHESTER United have six home games left, and defender Chris Coyne is targeting a clean-sweep of six wins to stage a dramatic late surge to safety.

The odds are stacked against the U's avoiding relegation. They are nine points adrift of safety, and have only managed three home wins all season.


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But Coyne is staying positive, and believes that a winning run can be kick-started by a success over relegation rivals Sheffield Wednesday this evening.

“We have three home games over the next week, and how we fair over these games will probably dictate where we finish this season,” admitted Coyne.

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“It's important that we get on a winning run, and quickly, before it's too late. We need to win all our home games, and perhaps pick up the odd point on the road. That would give us a chance.

“We have not had the rub of the green lately. That was the case with Crystal Palace's winner (Ben Watson's 74th minute goal) on Saturday, when the cross took a couple of deflections.

“Of course it's very disheartening, and it's gutting for the lads. We worked so hard against Palace, and I felt that we were in it for the whole match,” added Coyne.

Ex-Luton Town skipper Coyne has been impressive since his £350,000 move from Kenilworth Road in January, although he is still waiting to celebrate his first clean-sheet in a Colchester shirt.

In fact, the U's have toiled for 34 games without a clean-sheet, extending back to the 3-0 win at Preston on August 25.

You get the feeling that the U's will have to string together a few shut-outs, if they are to retain their Championship status. And Coyne believes that Layer Road now holds the key.

“There should be a fantastic atmosphere against Sheffield Wednesday. Hopefully, the fans will get right behind us,” continued Coyne.

“It's up to us to go out and perform. I don't think that we necessarily have to win our away games, so long as we can win at home.”

The U's have drawn too many games (14) this season, especially at home. Seven Layer Road stalemates equates to 14 dropped points.

And another draw tonight would do little to help the U's cause. It would keep them rooted to the basement, either eight or nine points behind the fourth-from-bottom team (Leicester play fifth-from-bottom Southampton).

Manager Geraint Williams could stick with the same 16-man squad that lost 2-1 at Palace. Alternatively, he might recall left winger Kevin McLeod, who did not figure at Selhurst Park.

A long injury list is headed by striker Teddy Sheringham (foot infection), defender Pat Baldwin (knee problem) and front-runner Jamie Guy (sore Achilles tendon).

Wednesday have no fresh injury concerns, following their 2-1 home win over QPR on Saturday. Striker Ben Sahar, on loan from Chelsea, remains sidelined by a strained hamstring, but QPR loanee Adam Bolder is available again after sitting out the match against his parent club.

The Owls, despite rattling up their eighth home win of the campaign, are still third-from-bottom, seven points clear of the U's.

It therefore promises to be a nerve-wracking evening. United are fast approaching the point of no return. Anything less than a win tonight will be deemed a failure.

Squads

COLCHESTER UNITED: Gerken, Ifil, Coyne, Virgo, White, Duguid, Izzet, Hammond, Jackson, Platt, Lisbie, McLeod, Balogh, Watson, Vernon, Elito, Guttridge, Bankole.

SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY: Grant, Hinds, Beevers, Wood, Spurr, Kavanagh, Small, McAllister, Songo'o, Tudgay, Burton, Bolder, Wallwork, Showunmi, O'Brien, Burch, Boden.

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