Make-or-break for Colchester United
Tomorrow’s home game, against Scunthorpe United, is “make-or- break” for relegation-haunted Colchester United.
The U’s confidence, and self-belief, took a real battering at Chesterfield on Tuesday night. They are reeling, on the ropes, and Iron could deliver a knock-out punch this weekend.
It’s never a good time to be on the wrong end of a 6-0 thrashing. But when you are second-from bottom, three points adrift of safety, and with just four more games remaining, a heavy loss at such a time can be devastating.
Manager Tony Humes faces the biggest test of his still fledgling career, as a first-team boss, to pick up his team for tomorrow’s showdown – many of his players looked out-for- the-count, following Tuesday night’s demolition in Derbyshire.
“Saturday is make-or-break for us, it’s getting to that stage,” admitted Humes.
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“We have just four games left, and I think we have known where we are for a long time.
“It’s no different now, though obviously Tuesday was a crushing defeat. We’ve got a huge game on Saturday, and we have got to be big enough, and strong enough, to look at it and say – ‘we’re going to give it a go.’
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“It’s as difficult as it’s going to be, to pick them up, to get them in that frame of mind where they can believe they can go and win the next game, but we’ve got to do it.
“We have been in this position before this season, where we lost at MK Dons (6-0 at the end of November) and then won the next game 1-0 (against Peterborough in the FA Cup).
“I’m not saying we want to experience that too much, but if the players are honest and look themselves in the mirror, then it can be done,” added Humes.
Tuesday night was certainly a baptism of fire for Chris Lewington, who was making his long-awaited U’s league debut.
Lewington had spent the whole of this season warming the bench, as Sam Walker’s deputy, with the exception of one fateful appearance in the League Cup last August, when the U’s were thumped 4-0 at Charlton.
The unfortunate Lewington was finally given his chance at Chesterfield, due to Walker’s knee injury – sustained in the previous game, a 1-0 defeat at Coventry last Saturday.
A summer recruit from Dagenham & Redbridge, Lewington will not look back with any great fondness at his first U’s league start, although he was left exposed by a very charitable U’s defence – he has now conceded 10 goals in just two appearances.
He allowed Chesterfield’s fourth goal, cleanly struck by Dan Gardner, to slip through his hands, but otherwise no real blame can be attached to the 26-year-old Londoner.
“There’s nothing down to Chris (Lewington) out there,” insisted Humes.
“All of Chesterfield’s goals were good quality goals, with the passing and movement. Their quality was too much for us.
“Chris in fact made a few good saves for us. That’s his job, and we’ll pick Chris up. We can’t apportion blame to him.
“We’ve just got to move on.”
Tuesday night was the first time that Walker had missed a league game, since his original loan switch from Chelsea in January, 2013. But this Saturday could also come too soon for him.
Humes explained: “Hopefully, Sam’s not long term. He wasn’t really close (on Tuesday night), but he’s improving as the days go on. He’s improved since the day before.”