John McGreal reflects on Colchester United’s penalty-taker debate

Mikael Mandron has a header at goal during the U's 2-1 defeat at Notts County. Mandron later had a p

Mikael Mandron has a header at goal during the U's 2-1 defeat at Notts County. Mandron later had a penalty saved. Picture: RICHARD BLAXALL - Credit: Richard Blaxall / Pagepix

Colchester United boss, John McGreal, assumed that Sammie Szmodics was going to take the penalty during Saturday’s frustrating 2-1 defeat at Notts County.

Szmodics had converted the U’s previous penalty, in a 3-1 defeat at Cheltenham in September, but instead it was fellow striker Mandron who took on the spot-kick responsibility at Meadow Lane.

Unfortunately, Mandron’s rather weak penalty was saved by keeper Ross Fitzsimons, just nine minutes after Shola Ameobi had broken the deadlock with a successful penalty at the other end of the pitch.

Sanmi Odelusi seemed to have rescued a point for the U’s, thanks to his first goal for the club in the 89th minute, only for Ryan Yates to head home an injury-time winner.

“We were all debating it a little bit, because Szmods (Szmodics) took the last penalty, at Cheltenham, so we were all expecting Sammie to pick up the ball,” admitted McGreal.

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“But Mikael has grabbed it and you think – ‘OK, fair enough, he has the bottle to take the ball’ – but we all know what happened after that.

“Once Mikael has grabbed it, that’s it really – you try and get it off him! I’m sure if Sammie had wanted it, then he would have got the ball.

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“But again we’ve come back, and Mikael has put in a great ball for Sam (Odelusi) to slot it away well. It was a great goal, and a composed finish by Sam.

“It was a good moment for him, because he has shown a lot of determination and application on the training field,” added McGreal.

Overall, it was a disappointing afternoon for the U’s, and boss McGreal, because the U’s performance had merited at least a point.

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“I’m very disappointed,” confirmed McGreal.

“I thought we were excellent in the first half, but we had nothing to show for it, because I thought we should have been a goal or two up. Overall, I thought we were fantastic.

“We should never have lost this game today, I think a blind man could have seen that.

“Some of the individual performances, and the collective way we played as a team, were excellent. We passed the ball very well at times, so to lose the game was disappointing.

“But from where we have come from over the last few months, performance-wise we were excellent.”

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