Phil misses out on award

COLCHESTER United manager Phil Parkinson celebrated his 38th birthday yesterday, but there was no Magnum of Champagne to crack open from the Football League.

By Carl Marston

COLCHESTER United manager Phil Parkinson celebrated his 38th birthday yesterday, but there was no Magnum of Champagne to crack open from the Football League.

Doncaster Rovers boss Dave Penney pipped Parkinson to the Coca-Cola League One manager-of-the-month for November, his success no doubt sealed by the toppling of Premiership visitors Aston Villa (3-0) in the Carling Cup on Tuesday night.

The U's and Rovers boasted the same 100% records in League One during the last month. No other club took nine points out of nine from their three league fixtures.

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Cup results do not usually have a bearing on the manager-of-the-month outcome, but Doncaster's impressive victory over hapless Villa, achieved in front of a Belle Vue crowd of 10,590, probably swayed the judges in the direction of Penney.

Parkinson said last night: “Congratulations to Dave Penney. His Doncaster side have had a fantastic month.

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“I guess that any other month and I might have got it, because we too have had an excellent November. Doncaster's cup triumph over Aston Villa was probably the clincher.

“The important thing for us is to start December like we left off November. We have a big week coming up, and at the end of it I want us to still be within striking distance of the play-offs, and still in the FA Cup,” added Parkinson.

The U's travel to Shrewsbury Town for an FA Cup second-round tie tomorrow, before facing long trips to Hartlepool (next Tuesday) and Swansea City (the following Saturday) for League One fixtures.

The Essex club are in the midst of a terrific run of results. Parkinson's men have won their last six league and cup games, giving them an outside chance of eclipsing the club record of eight straight wins in 1987-88, at the end of Mike Walker's reign as manager.

While Doncaster notched league wins over Oldham, Bournemouth and Bristol City, the U's followed up their late October triumph over Yeovil with league successes at Rotherham and against Blackpool and Gillingham.

The most impressive feature of Colchester's current run, which also included a 9-1 thrashing of non-league Leamington in the FA Cup, is the number of goals scored in these recent triumphs.

The U's have scored 25 goals in their last six matches - ironically, they only managed 14 goals in their first 16 fixtures of the campaign.

“We are scoring lots of goals, and putting pressure on opposing defences,” continued Parkinson. “But no one can afford to get complacent. The squad is very strong at the moment, so a poor performance and someone else will come in to take his place in the team.

“I only have a couple of injuries (Marino Keith and Stephen Hunt), and there are no new niggles. You usually expect about 10% of your players to be out injured at any one time, and that's about the case at the moment.

“Stephen (Hunt) will be out of action for another couple of months, while Marino (Keith) is still having problems with his Achilles. He has seen several different specialists, and has had various injections.

“We are trying other avenues. He's feeling a little better, but then he's not running. As soon as he starts running, the injury seems to be aggravated,” added Parkinson.

However, the U's have coped admirably without the services of either striker Keith or left-back Hunt this season. Keith has not played at all, while Hunt only made a couple of substitute appearances during mid-September before undergoing an operation on his ankle.

Parkinson, as a manager, can boast an excellent record in the FA Cup. He never had that much success as a player, either for Bury or Reading, but he guided the U's to the fifth round in 2003-04, and to the fourth round last term.

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