Joe Dunne warns U’s: Don’t drop your standards

JOE DUNNE revealed Colchester United’s players will face his wrath if Saturday’s superb performance in the U’s 1-0 victory over second-placed Stevenage proves to be nothing more than a flash in the pan.

The U’s clinched a fantastic single-goal win over previously-unbeaten Boro, at the Weston Homes Community Stadium, thanks to Sanchez Watt’s stunning 55th-minute strike and, in doing so, wiped away the memories of last season’s 6-1 home drubbing at the hands of the same team.

Victory was no more than the U’s deserved with Dunne’s team dominating large parts of the game. However, they were given a nervy few last moments, especially when Bondz N’Gala’s last-minute effort hit the bar.

A lack of a cutting edge and some inspired goalkeeping from Stevenage’s Steve Arnold could have salvaged a draw for the visitors, but the hosts showed excellent concentration levels to claim the scalp of one of the country’s form teams.

The U’s now have a week off before entertaining Carlisle United next Saturday – a team thumped 4-0 at home by Notts County at the weekend – and Dunne knows there can be no room for complacency.

“The result was narrow in terms of the scoreline but we worked hard against a top team and that is the reward you get when you do that,” said Dunne, who has guided United to three wins in four league games since taking over from John Ward.

“The players have the euphoria of winning at the moment but I will be questioning them if I sniff any kind of complacency and I will come down on them hard.

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“To be successful, you have got to be relentless. Yes there will be ups and downs but we have got to make sure that ours (downs) are not self-inflicted.

“We have got to maintain the same standard now. Three wins out of four is a good return but I don’t want to see inconsistency.”

Watt was the shining light in a tremendous team performance at the weekend, tormenting the Stevenage back-line, but fellow loanees Jabo Ibehre and Craig Eastmond also impressed, with the former linking up well with Watt in the final third.

The trio are halfway through the first month of their respective three-month loan spells and their introduction has coincided with an upturn in form and nine points from a possible 12 on offer.

“We have brought in those three players to add extra quality and skill to the team and because they have been brought up the right way in terms of how they play the game,” said Dunne.

“That’s one of the positives of the loan market. It can be effective if you use it correctly.

“I think for young players at Premier League teams, it is great for their development if they can go out on a long-term loan, for maybe a year.

“I have seen a lot of under-21 football and I am not sure that it stretches them to the extent that league football does. They (Watt and Eastmond) were playing for three points today against a good side, with yellow and red cards in a good atmosphere. I think that is more beneficial.”