‘Not a must-win game’ – insists Colchester United keeper Sam Walker
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This afternoon’s Gresty Road showdown is a bottom two clash, but Colchester United keeper Sam Walker does not consider it to be a “must-win” game.
The U’s have hit a good patch of form of late, under new manager Tony Humes, and they will be confident of notching a second win of the season at basement dwellers Crewe Alexandra.
Three clean-sheets from their last four games has seen the U’s take five points from a possible 12, and Walker believes that the new water-tight defence should hold them in good stead for the rest of the season.
However, the ex-Chelsea trainee is not putting too much emphasis on this weekend’s basement clash.
“I don’t think it’s any more important, than say the following Saturday’s game at Preston,” explained Walker.
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“I wouldn’t call it a must-win game, or anything like that.
“Obviously Crewe have had a poor start to the season, as we have really.
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“They had a tough result to take last weekend (6-1 defeat at MK Dons), so we will go there with plenty of confidence.
“We are creating chances, and working well as a whole unit. We will be looking to carry on the good work that we have been doing.”
The U’s are currently second-from-bottom of League One, with just six points accrued from nine league games, having also suffered an early exit from the Capital One Cup at Charlton Athletic.
A defeat at Crewe would see the U’s slump to bottom spot, but Walker is taking heart from the way the whole team has picked up, since Humes took charge just under four weeks ago.
“It’s been quite a turnaround really, considering we hadn’t kept any clean-sheets until the last four games, since when we’ve picked up three,” continued Walker.
“Barring the carnage that happened in the last eight minutes against Sheffield United (conceding three late goals to lose 3-2), it would probably have been four clean-sheets, so I’m really pleased with how it is going defensively at the moment.
“I think we are looking solid, and it feels like it is going to have to be a good goal to beat us.
“I haven’t had that many saves to make lately, because we have such a good defensive shape, and I don’t just mean the back five.
“The midfield have been getting back into shape, as have the front-three, so we are proving really difficult to break down, as Bradford found out last weekend.”
Although still only aged 22 – he actually celebrates his 23rd birthday next Thursday – Walker has already rattled up 74 league games for the U’s, from two earlier loan spells and since he signed permanently last January.
That makes him one of the most experienced players in the U’s starting line-up, an unusual situation for a player who only signed his first professional contract, with Chelsea, just over four years ago.
One of the younger members of the side, teenager Frankie Kent, has particularly caught Walker’s eye since he was called up to the side to deputise for the suspended Magnus Okuonghae in central defence.
“The club’s ethos is to bring these younger guys through, and I have been very impressed with Frankie,” enthused Walker.
“He had a good game at Bristol City. Since he has come into the side he has looked really comfortable.
“The one thing about Frankie is that he’s a bit of a talker as well. He’s not one of those who comes into the side and is in his shell. He is not afraid to talk to people, which I like,” added Walker.