Not a happy trip down memory lane

SATURDAY was a trip down memory lane, but not a particularly happy one for Colchester United's 800 travelling supporters.Scott McGleish poaching a winner; and Geraint Williams refusing to get carried away by a victory.

Carl Marston

SATURDAY was a trip down memory lane, but not a particularly happy one for Colchester United's 800 travelling supporters.

Scott McGleish poaching a winner; and Geraint Williams refusing to get carried away by a victory. It was as if we had been transported back in time.

The only difference was that the U's were not the benefactors. Instead, they were the victims.

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United slid back into the lower half of the League One table, despite taking the lead at Brisbane Road. As has happened so often this season, they flattered to deceive, especially during a below-par second-half display.

United have failed to make a big push for the play-offs this season, not because of the terrible start, ironically endured under current O's boss Williams, but because they dropped too many points against the “poorer” sides.

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The U's have lost to many of the clubs who have been flirting with relegation, including bottom two Cheltenham (4-3 away) and Hereford (1-0 at home). They have also been doubled by Crewe and lost at Hartlepool and now Leyton Orient.

Relegation-haunted Brighton, who are in serious danger of disappearing into League Two, will be hoping that their hosts are equally charitable to them this afternoon! The Seagulls are at the Community Stadium for a 3pm kick-off.

U's boss Paul Lambert has already insisted that new players will be arriving over the summer, and continuing in this vein, he tinkered with his team at Orient. Keeper Dean Gerken enjoyed a recall, and had a good afternoon, while there was an injection of pace with the inclusions of wingers Lewis Gobern and Simon Hackney, and also Ashley Vincent alongside Clive Platt.

The visitors dictated the first period, and were good value for their 43rd minute lead. Alas, it was a lead that they could not protect until half-time.

O's keeper Jamie Jones had denied Gobern with a finger-tip save from a rasping 25-yarder, and also gobbled up a long-range effort from Hackney, but he had no chance with Platt's deadlock-breaker.

Neal Trotman, who had come close to heading into his own net in the 17th minute, headed Marc Tierney's free-kick into the danger zone. Vincent flicked on and Platt nodded home from six yards out.

It was Platt's fifth goal in the last eight games, and his 10th of the season, bringing him level with leading scorer Mark Yeates (also 10 league goals, although he has 11 in all competitions).

Several fans had already left their seats in search of some half-time refreshment, when the O's equalised in the fourth and final minute of stoppage time - so much time was added on, due to hard man McGleish twice requiring treatment following collisions with former team-mate Gerken.

It was a great goal. Charlie Daniels, who is on loan from Tottenham, left Gerken clutching at thin air as his rocket free-kick whistled into the roof of the net.

The U's had lost the initiative, and they never really regained it. Williams' men looked the more urgent after the break, and McGleish spurned a couple of good opportunities when firing straight at Gerken on 55 minutes, and then ballooning a shot over the bar from a promising position.

The visitors did strike the bar, courtesy of Tierney's stunning 30-yard drive in the 65th minute, but then so did their opponents when McGleish also thudded the bar from long range.

McGleish may have hit the woodwork from 25 yards out, but he proved deadly from 25 inches! Jimmy Smith burst onto Daniels' through ball and swung over a cross-cum-shot that was on the point of crossing the line. McGleish made sure by prodding it into an unguarded net.

There were still 10 minutes remaining, but the O's were not going to relinquish their lead. They are now up to 52 points and effectively safe from relegation.

Like the U's, they can now begin looking towards next season. Chairman Barry Hearn will surely be offering Williams a new contract this summer. He deserves it.


LEYTON ORIENT: Jones 7, Purches 6, Mkandawire 7, Spence 7, DANIELS 8, Melligan 6 (sub Gray, 67), Thornton 7, Terry 7, Smith 7 (sub Boyd, 81), McGleish 8, Church 6. Unused subs: Saah, Cave-Brown, Morris.

COLCHESTER UNITED: Gerken 7, Maybury 6, Trotman 7, Baldwin 7, Tierney 7, Gobern 6 (sub Yeates, 67), HAMMOND 8, Izzet 7, Hackney 7 (sub Wordsworth, 77), Platt 7, Vincent 6 (sub Wasiu, 70). Unused subs: Coyne, Cousins.

Referee: Mr Darren Deadman (Cambridgeshire) 7

Attendance: 4,685.

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