Fans turn on U's

IT is incredible to read in Carl Marston's excellent match report report that some U's fans turned on the players after they narrowly lost 1-0 at Swansea in the LDV southern section final first leg.

IT is incredible to read in Carl Marston's excellent match report report that some U's fans turned on the players after they narrowly lost 1-0 at Swansea in the LDV southern section final first leg.

I appreciate it is a long way to go on a dank Tuesday night to see your team lose but by all accounts it was not as if the players did not give their all.

To be truthful a part of me was hoping they would capitulate and lose three or four-nil making the second leg meaningless and given the players and fans just one thing to focus on - the unbelievable prospect of Championship football for Colchester United.

A first time in the second tier of English football and a tantalising one giant step away from the Premiership.

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Of course another day out in Wales, this time at the national stadium in a cup final, is a wonderful prospect but sometimes you have to look at the bigger picture.

I can remember a conversation on the Colchester United team bus coming back from a wretched afternoon at Hartlepool after a 1-0 loss that saw Tony McCarthy sent off which meant he missed the AutoWindscreens final.

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Peter Cawley and a couple of the other senior players were adamant that being promoted was far more important than a day out at Wembley, however special that would be.

They argued that the younger players should get their heads out of the clouds and make sure they focused on the league games.

The U's lost 3-0 at home to Darlington the following week, then 1-0 at Hereford, where once again the final was discussed in earnest, and then 1-0 at Wigan.

Like the whole U's contingent I felt the heartache of a penalty shootout defeat in the AW final and no one would remember the pain more than a certain Karl Duguid.

The U's finished the season strongly with wins over Swansea, Hull City and Barnet on the last day but a goalless draw at Northampton in the penultimate game of the regular season meant they missed out on the play-off places by a point with the Cobblers going on to win the final.

Steve Wignall regrouped the players and took them up the following season with a David Gregory penalty securing promotion in the Wembley play-off final against Torquay. Better late than never, but Cawley's wise, but largely unheeded, words stayed with me and I can't help but see parallels now.

The Chelsea game may have been a distraction, the Swansea game is hanging in the balance but at least it comes quickly, followed by the final on April 2, if it is to be.

I'm sure U's skipper Duguid will be warning his team-mates of the danger of taking their eye off the metaphoric ball and after being on the verge of so much ending up with nothing.

The ideal scenario for the outstanding manager Phil Parkinson's U's now is for them to win the second leg of their LDV Vans Southern semi-final against Swansea 2-0, 2-1 on aggregate, and then win every game until the end of the season.

That would mean victory in the Millennium Stadium, promotion to the Championship and a lot of happy U's bunnies.

But the reality is likely to be very different unless the players show mental toughness and the fans, who were amazing at Stamford Bridge, stay realistic and fully behind the team.

NORWICH striker Paul McVeigh has signed a 12-month contract extension tying him to the club until June 2007.

The 28-year-old's current deal was due to expire at the end of this season, but the Canaries had first option on a new one-year deal.

The Irishman, signed on a free transfer from Tottenham in March 2000, was transfer-listed at the end of last season after making just three starts during the Premiership campaign. However, he has returned to form this season, scoring seven goals, and manager Nigel Worthington is delighted the club's third longest-serving player has decided to stay at Carrow Road.

DERBY have signed DONCASTER midfielder Michael McIndoe on loan until the end of the season.

The 26-year-old has scored 13 goals in 41 appearances for Rovers so far this term and will go straight into the Rams squad to Burnley at Pride Park on Saturday.

LUCKILY Preston's prompt and decisive action prevented hundreds of Town fans, and indeed the team itself, a long and unnecessary trip to the north-west.

After being caught out themselves over Christmas when their game at Plymouth was called off just three hours before the scheduled kick off, the Lilywhites were determined the same should not happen to any other team. The pitch was frozen, the snow was heavy and while some games in the area did go ahead, many did not. Preston do not face any action from the Football League for not being able to get the game on, and it is now being replayed on Tuesday, March 14.

With three key suspensions and a couple of big players injured, North End manager Billy Davies may have secretly been relieved he did not have to face a tails-up Ipswich, and perhaps the fact they could only get a draw at Plymouth, tells its own tale.

Davies is also less than happy at the actions of his skipper that was - Chris Lucketti.

The 34-year-old has moved to promotion favourites Sheffield United, initially on loan, but in a move that could cost the Blades £300,000, not long after signing a new deal at Deepdale. Davies did not want to lose his skipper but Lucketti made it clear he did not want to stay at Preston and the manager has publicly slated him.

Incidentally, if you thought the Preston game was a bit of an inconvenience think on. Inverness Thistle and Falkirk had a league meeting called off 29 times due to the bad weather with Falkirk eventually winning 4-0.

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