Gillespie champing at the bit

COLCHESTER United marksman Steven Gillespie is champing at the bit to kick-start his season, and today could be just the occasion to blow away those cobwebs.

Carl Marston

COLCHESTER United marksman Steven Gillespie is champing at the bit to kick-start his season, and today could be just the occasion to blow away those cobwebs.

Club record signing Gillespie has endured a rough ride since his �400,000 move from Cheltenham Town last summer, due to a spate of injuries, one suspension and a struggle for form.

But it his old club who are visiting the Community Stadium this afternoon, and Gillespie would like nothing more than to regain his scoring touch against the Robins.

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The 24-year-old was frustrated to only been on the bench for the U's last outing, an impressive 1-1 draw at second-placed MK Dons in front of the Sky TV cameras on Monday night, especially as he had started the previous game against Leyton Orient, where he had scored the winner from the penalty spot.

There is no guarantee that Gillespie will start against Cheltenham, but he looks sure to have a part to play - the odds are that he will start alongside Clive Platt, with Scott Vernon perhaps on the bench.

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“It's always a special occasion to play against your old club, and I'm looking forward to this one, especially as I missed the game at Cheltenham (through injury),” admitted Gillespie.

“I had some good times at Cheltenham, but there aren't many players left from my time there, even though it's only six months ago! The manager has changed (now Martin Allen) and only one or two of the lads that I knew are still in the side.

“I've had a real mixed season so far. I haven't been playing as much as I would have liked, and I was disappointed not to start at MK Dons. I suppose you could say that I was surprised.

“That was the gaffer's decision. Perhaps he wanted to play with two big men up front (Platt and Vernon)? But we did play well, and it's up to me to knuckle down and fight for my place.

“I've been getting lots of chances whenever I've come on, and I should have scored late on MK Dons. I should be putting them away. You could see from my face what that miss meant to me on the night.

“However, I did score a goal in midweek (in the 6-0 win over Hornchurch in an Essex Senior Cup tie), and hopefully things will now start changing for the better,” added Gillespie.

Former Liverpool trainee Gillespie top-scored with 16 goals for Cheltenham last term -he played in 37 of the Robins' 46 league games.

Of course it's been a very different story this term. But despite his frustrating start to life at the Community Stadium - just five league starts and three league goals - he has no regrets about leaving Whaddon Road.

“Cheltenham look like they are struggling this season, which is what happened the previous two years as well,” continued Gillespie.

“To be honest, that's really why I wanted to get away. It was always a real struggle to stay in this league. I wanted to go to Colchester, where there was a chance of getting to the play-offs and winning promotion, and I still think that's a possibility.

“We are on a very good run (just one defeat in eight league games) and we are doing well against the better teams who are already up there. We should have beaten MK Dons, and we could have beaten Scunthorpe (0-0 home draw before Christmas) as well.

“I think we should now be winning all our games at home in this league,” added Gillespie.

The U's are currently 11 points adrift of the play-off zone, but a comfortable 10 points clear of the bottom four. They had actually nose-dived into the relegation zone following a 4-3 defeat at Cheltenham three months ago.


COLCHESTER UNITED: Walker, Maybury, Baldwin, Reid, Tierney, Perkins, Izzet, Hammond, Yeates, Platt, Gillespie, Gobern, Vernon, Heath, White, Jackson, Wordsworth, Cousins.

CHELTENHAM TOWN: Brown, Linedgaard, Gallinagh, Westwood, Wright, Bird, Westlake, Russell, Owusu, Hammond, Vincent, Bignall, Ridley, Low, Montrose, Hayes, Finningan, Puddy, Duff, Connor.

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