On the right road, quite literally

COLCHESTER United were like chalk and cheese last season, depending on whether they were home or away, hardly a recipe for success.

COLCHESTER United were like chalk and cheese last season, depending on whether they were home or away, hardly a recipe for success.

But the U’s are no longer easy pushovers on the road, a transformation that might enable John Ward’s men to launch a full-blooded onslaught on the top six.

Saturday’s battling goalless draw at Tranmere Rovers was the 10th away point gathered from nine fixtures this term.

Compare that to the back-end of last season, when struggling United mustered a mere 10 points from their last 18 away games.

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No wonder that the U’s drifted into mid-table obscurity with a final finish of 10th, nine points adrift of the play-offs.

Keeper Ben Williams, a key figure in the U’s stronger showings away from the Weston Homes Community Stadium, is encouraged by this new-found backbone.

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“Our away form is very important to us,” explained Williams.

“Last year, to make no bones about it, our away form was poor. Our home form was brilliant, but it’s up to us to find a balance of being good away from home, which I think we now are, and making our home a fortress.

“The league is the same every season. It becomes very tight, and then all of a sudden after Christmas there is a breakaway group. You have to hold onto the coat-tails of that group,” added Williams.

This season, the U’s have only suffered away defeats in one county – Yorkshire!

Huddersfield, Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday, all top five clubs, have proved too strong for the visiting U’s, but otherwise the Essex side have been more than a match for any of their hosts.

By contrast, the U’s miserable run on the road last term saw them lose 12 of their last 18 away games.

Swindon, Leyton Orient, Brighton, Charlton, Huddersfield, Notts County, Plymouth, Dagenham & Redbridge, Tranmere, Sheffield Wednesday, Carlisle and Yeovil all inflicted away defeats on the U’s during that terrible sequence of away results.

And the present-day U’s should take heed from last season’s experiences.

At the same stage 12 months ago, leading up to an FA Cup first round tie against Bradford, the U’s had yet to lose an away game with three wins and four draws to their name.

But it all went horribly wrong, in terms of their away record, once Bonfire Night had been and gone.

At least there are no more trips to Yorkshire this season!

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