It's another sorry Saturday for U's

TAKE your pick. Disappointing, frustrating, bewildering, annoying.

Carl Marston

TAKE your pick. Disappointing, frustrating, bewildering, annoying. Colchester United's fans, players and management team experienced all of these emotions during another sorry Saturday.

These are lean times to be a follower of the U's. Those heady days of promotion, and that wonderful first year in the Championship, have long gone.

Virtually the whole team has changed, and there was a touch of irony that on the day the U's slumped to second-from-bottom of League One, their old striker Chris Iwelumo should bag a hat-trick to keep Wolves on top of the Championship.

The U's could not buy a goal against the super-efficient MK Dons. Confidence is fragile at the moment, so the last thing that Geraint Williams' men needed was to concede an early goal.

Any prospect of wiping away the memory of the previous weekend's dismal defeat at Crewe was ended after just 90 seconds. That's how long it took for Dons striker Aaron Wilbraham to rifle home a clinical shot from 25 yards out.

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United huffed and puffed for the rest of the afternoon. They briefly threatened a comeback towards the end of the first half, when Mark Yeates struck the post with a free-kick, and Sunday-Akanni Wasiu failed to control Johnnie Jackson's cross in front of goal, but Dons keeper Willy Gueret never had a serious save to make.

Substitute Sam Baldock's late brace, on 88 minutes and then in the third and final minute of injury-time, merely added salt to the wounds. The Weston Homes Community Stadium was not a happy place to be on Saturday night.

The pressure is mounting on Williams, and many more poor results will surely spell the end of his reign.

There's no doubt that the players let him down against the Dons. They lacked creativity and penetration, so much so that Roberto Di Matteo's side will probably not enjoy a more comfortable away day again this season.

It's difficult to see how the U's are going to turn the tide. Only Hereford United are keeping them off the basement, and they face an awkward trip to Tranmere Rovers on Friday evening.

Williams tried to shake up the team. He made three changes to the side that had lost 2-0 at Crewe, handing full league debuts to David Perkins and Wasiu, and recalling Chris Coyne to the heart of defence.

Midfielder Perkins was industrious, especially in the first half, and for that he deserved the U's man of the match award. But there weren't many other positives.

For once, star winger Yeates was kept under wraps by the opposing left-back - Dean Lewington had a very impressive afternoon against the Dubliner.

There were also problems on the left flank, where United operated with Johnnie Jackson in the first-half. More at home in the centre of the park, Jackson was forever drifting into the middle, and the introduction of natural winger Medy Elito after the break did not really have the desired effect.

Of course these are still early days, and the U's have a game in hand over most of their rivals.

The league is yet to settle down, but if United are still in this position by mid-October, with a quarter of the season gone, then heads might roll.

There were more jeers than cheers, and more boos than smiles, after this latest flop. This is not how the U's were planning to celebrate the dawn of a new era.


Colchester United: Gerken 6, White 5 (sub Elito, 46, 6), Coyne 5, Reid 5, Ifil 6, Yeates 7, Izzet 6 (sub Hammond, 76), PERKINS 7, Jackson 6, Platt 5, Wasiu 5 (sub Vernon, 63). Unused subs: Heath, Cousins.

MK Dons: Gueret 7, Regan 7, Llera 7, O'Hanlon 7, LEWINGTON 8, Wright 7, Navarro 7, Leven 7, Cummings 6, Wilbraham 7, Gerba 6 (sub Baldock, 72). Unused: Stirling, Johnson, Belson, Abbey.

Referee: Mr Trevor Kettle (Rutland) 7.

Attendance: 4,888.