Goalshy U’s players practice shooting – without a ball

COLCHESTER United’s goalshy players practised their shooting and strike techniques this week – but there was not a football in sight.

U’s boss John Ward had his players in for training on Monday but then gave them two days off in order to ‘mentally and physically’ recharge following nine games in 24 days.

And following three successive defeats, the players used the time to go on a morale-boosting day out of paintballing and ten-pin bowling on Tuesday before finally enjoying their postponed Christmas party last night.

“The idea was to lift the spirits a bit,” said Irish striker David Mooney, whose red card early on against Southampton means he has been suspended for the last two games and will also be unavailable for Saturday’s trip to Tranmere.

“I think it was important to go out and have a bit of fun. Sometimes you can get a bit bogged down in putting too much emphasis on the ‘we must win this game’ mentality. Sometimes it’s helpful to switch off from it.”

Fellow forward Steven Gillespie, speaking after Saturday’s defeat, concurred: “Football dominates your thoughts all the time, there’s always things going around your head and I have Sky Sports News on until I fall asleep most nights.”

The fact that Mooney is Colchester’s top-scorer so far this campaign with 12 goals (four of them from the penalty spot) says all you need to know about the Essex side’s shortcomings.

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Too many times this season the U’s have played well but not been clinical enough in front of goal and, as a result, they are now nearer the bottom four than the top six.

The fact that goalkeeper Mark Cousins scored the most points at bowling this week rather summed it up.

“I haven’t been as prolific as I’d wanted to be,” admitted Mooney, who is on loan from Championship club Reading until the end-of-the-season.

“It’s been really frustrating sitting out recently and I can’t wait to be back involved if the manager picks me against Oldham next Tuesday.”

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