Parkinson hails his brave players

COLCHESTER United boss Phil Parkinson confirmed that his brave side had come close to causing the “biggest footballing upset of all time.”The U's took the lead against their illustrious hosts Chelsea, and came within 11 minutes of forcing Jose Mourinho's men to visit Layer Road for a replay, until substitute Joe Cole struck with a deadly brace in a 3-1 win.

By Carl Marston

COLCHESTER United boss Phil Parkinson confirmed that his brave side had come close to causing the “biggest footballing upset of all time.”

The U's took the lead against their illustrious hosts Chelsea, and came within 11 minutes of forcing Jose Mourinho's men to visit Layer Road for a replay, until substitute Joe Cole struck with a deadly brace in a 3-1 win.

Parkinson enthused: “I'm extremely pleased with my players. We wouldn't have enjoyed today unless we gave a good account of ourselves.

“We ruffled a few of Chelsea's feathers in the first half. They certainly knew that they were in a game this afternoon.

“We were confident because we knew that we deserved to be there. A lot of my players can play at a higher level, and they showed it against Chelsea.

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“We got the balance just right in the first half, looking solid defensively and dangerous in attack. We created several chances.

“I was just disappointed with the manner of their equaliser. If we had kept it at 1-0 until half time, then who knows? They then made three substitutes, and not bad ones at that!

“If we had pulled it off, then it would have been the all-time biggest FA Cup upset, no doubt about it,” added Parkinson.

The U's manager agreed that the introduction of substitutes Joe Cole, Frank Lampard and Hernan Crespo made all the difference. Crespo set up Chelsea's second goal for Cole, who then obliged by adding a last-gasp third to kill off the visitors, while Lampard pulled the strings in midfield.

Parkinson continued: “The introduction of three world-class players tipped the balance in their favour. My players were physically and mentally tired.

“It would have been great to hold on and take them back to Layer Road, but I couldn't have asked for any more from my players.

“Our fans were absolutely fantastic. They made it a great atmosphere. Right from the first whistle they got behind us, and I think that they warmed to our performance. The lads showed passion and commitment.

“We now have 14 cup finals, in the league, between now and the end of the season. The business end of the season starts now,” added Parkinson.

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