‘All four games are must-win games’ – U’s Saunders

Sam Saunders, set for his U's home debut against Grimsby this afternoon. Picture: RICHARD BLAXALL

Sam Saunders, set for his U's home debut against Grimsby this afternoon. Picture: RICHARD BLAXALL - Credit: Richard Blaxall

Towards the end of February, when Colchester United were well-placed in fifth spot, with 53 points gained from 33 games, I suggested that the U’s would need 18 points to make the League Two play-offs from their last 13 fixtures.

That would have required six wins from their last 13, or perhaps five wins and three draws, or even four wins and six draws.

These statistics were based on the average number of points accrued by the seventh-placed League Two teams (last play-off berth) over the last 10 years.

The average happened to be 71.2 points (rounded down to 71), with the lowest tally being the 68 points secured by Torquay in 2010-11, and the highest being the 75 of AFC Wimbledon (2015-16) and Lincoln City (last year).

Well, the U’s have suffered a significant down-turn in results, since that impromptu study, managing just a couple of wins in their last nine matches, and suffering six defeats.

A meagre haul of just seven points from a possible 27 leaves them with a near-impossible task of finishing in the top seven.

Quite simply, John McGreal’s men really need to win all four of their final four fixtures to stand a good chance of gate-crashing the play-offs, starting with today’s home match against out-of-sorts Grimsby Town.

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Three draws and a win would leave them on 70 points, but that is unlikely to be enough – they are already five points behind seventh-placed Exeter (65pts) and seven behind sixth-placed Forest Green Rovers (67). Furthermore, although they are ninth, they would drop to 11th if Newport and Oldham won their games in hand.

Sam Saunders is set to make his U’s home debut today, after impressing during last Saturday’s disappointing 2-0 defeat at Bury.

And the 35-year-old midfielder confirmed: “Grimsby is a must-win game, but all four games are must-win games now.

“We’ve got to win all four and just see where we are at.

“We want to put in a good performance in front of our home fans. Win that and we will have a bit more belief, a bit more confidence, and you never know where that will take you.

“There’s just a lack of belief and a little lack of confidence in the camp at the moment.

“We are a better team than this, and we are better organised. It’s just silly mistakes, which leads to the belief being sucked out of you.

“The story of the last few weeks has been not finding the target. The only way to change it is to get in there and score.

“But if you could bottle up confidence, and sell it, then you would be a millionaire.

“There’s four matches to go. We have to win all four, it’s either that or fold. We can’t affect others around us. We need a bit of pride,” added Saunders.

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