It’s not looking good for U’s play-off hopes
EXPECT to hear all the right noises coming out of Colchester United this week.
“It’s still in our hands,” “We’ll fight until the end,” “We’ve bounced back before.”
The reality is though that the U’s – bar a minor miracle – have somehow chucked away a top six finish.
Tuesday night’s 1-0 defeat at Charlton, coupled with sixth-place Huddersfield’s dramatic 4-3 win over Walsall, means that Colchester are now three points adrift of the play-offs.
And with The Terriers holding a superior goal difference by five, it effectively becomes a four point gap.
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Realistically that means that the Essex side will probably have to win at least three of their remaining four League One games – which includes a trip to The Galpharm on the penultimate weekend of the season – to stand any chance of getting back above their Yorkshire rivals.
Only the most partisan of U’s fans will be expecting that following a dismal run of five successive away defeats and just one victory from the last 10.
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Especially when you consider that striker Kevin Lisbie could be suspended for the next three following his straight red card at The Valley, while midfielder John-Joe O’Toole faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines after suffering a serious knee injury.
Should Colchester fail to make the play-offs, having been firmly entrenched in the top four right up until the end of February, expect some serious soul-searching at the Weston Homes Community Stadium this summer?
Were the U’s over-achieving earlier in the campaign and are now paying the price for raising the barometer for success too early?
If so, do we accept Aidy Boothroyd’s mantra that the club is a ‘work in progress’ and that they have indeed progressed by bettering the 10th place finish of 2008/9?
Should Colchester have expected a top six finish in what has been one of the most competitive seasons in the history of the English third tier?
And should U’s fans just be grateful that their season did not simply fall apart following the early season disruption of Paul Lambert departing for Norwich?
Alternatively, would failure to make the top six constitute a major failure following the appointment of a high profile manager who has been given some serious financial backing by owner Robbie Cowling?
Kayode Odejayi, John-Joe O’Toole and Kevin Lisbie all come from Championship stock, while the likes of Anthony Wordsworth, Magnus Okuonghae, Ben Williams and Marc Tierney are all tipped to play at a higher level.
It’s not over until the fat lady sings, but if the U’s do fail to make the play-offs expect there to be a serious end of season inquest.