Mark put on the spot on U's debut

COLCHESTER United's rookie keeper, Mark Cousins, felt like he was involved in a penalty shoot-out rather than a testing Championship encounter against Barnsley on Saturday.

By Carl Marston

COLCHESTER United's rookie keeper, Mark Cousins, felt like he was involved in a penalty shoot-out rather than a testing Championship encounter against Barnsley on Saturday.

And the 20-year-old custodian wished that he had listened to the advice of his team-mate Teddy Sheringham, who is more than twice his age!

Cousins was handed an unexpected senior debut when No.1 choice Dean Gerken was sent off for a professional foul on Tykes striker Kayode Odejayi, after 26 minutes of a bad-tempered 2-2 draw.


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The former youth team keeper conceded two goals during his 64 minutes on the pitch, though both of these were from firmly-struck penalties by Brian Howard, the first of them immediately on his introduction.

“It was quite a comfortable game for me. There weren't that many shots to deal with,” admitted Cousins.

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“In fact, it was more like a penalty shoot-out. Their lad (Howard) took his penalties well, but I maybe should have taken Teddy's advice before the second one.

“Teddy came up to me and said that the player would put his penalty the same way, but I thought that he would reverse it.

“I should have bowed to Teddy's experience, because he did end up putting the penalty to the same side with me diving the wrong way.

“But it was a big day for me. I didn't think for one minute that I'd get on the pitch.

“It doesn't usually happen to me, but then Dean (Gerken) gets sent off and all of a sudden I'm putting on the shirt and running out to face a penalty.

“I suppose it's not the best way to start my senior career, picking the ball out of the net after a penalty, but overall it was a good experience,” added Cousins.

Gerken is set to serve a one-match suspension for his red card, while his deputy and goalkeeping coach, Aidan Davison, has been hampered by a bad back for the last few weeks.

Davison's struggle against injury is why Cousins has been on the first-team bench for the first three games. He also featured several times during pre-season.

“I don't know what will happen for the Preston game next weekend,” continued Cousins.

“Dean (Gerken) will be suspended, and Aidan has had a back injury, although he is due to start training again during the week.

“He might be rushed back, or the gaffer might go for another keeper, but at least I've put the question out there with this performance.

“I enjoyed getting some advice from Aidan (Davison) at half-time, and from Teddy on the pitch. Aidan kept me relaxed, which really helped, and others talked to me during the game.

“It's certainly a debut that I will never forget!” added Cousins.

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