Praise for Parky

COLCHESTER United boss Geraint Williams has every respect for his Layer Road predecessor, Phil Parkinson.Williams was Parkinson's No. 2 for more than three years.

By Carl Marston

COLCHESTER United boss Geraint Williams has every respect for his Layer Road predecessor, Phil Parkinson.

Williams was Parkinson's No. 2 for more than three years. The duo presided over a “golden age,” which featured some mouth-watering cup runs and culminated in the U's automatic promotion to the Championship.

Parkinson left Layer Road with the Essex club on a high, looking forward to their first-ever season in the second tier of the Football League, although there was a good deal of ill-feeling surrounding his sudden departure to Hull City.

But all that is water under the bridge now. And while Parkinson is struggling to drag Hull out of the relegation zone, Williams has made sure that the “golden age” has continued at Layer Road.

“It will be nice to see Phil (Parkinson) again. We've kept in touch on the phone, though not every week,” explained Williams last night.

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“I naturally learnt a lot off Phil during his three years here. Some managers do things off the cuff, but Phil has always been one who is meticulous in his organisation. That's something that I have picked up on.

“It's very important to remember that Phil led Colchester United promotion to the second tier of the Football League, for the first time in the club's history. That was a terrific achievement.

“There's no getting away from that, despite what happened over the summer. He deserves to get a good welcome from the fans,” added Williams.

The U's rose to 11th in the Championship table on the back of Saturday's 3-0 win over Southend United in a bad-tempered Essex derby. It was their seventh home victory on the bounce, a terrific record especially considering that they lost their first two home fixtures of the campaign, against Barnsley and Plymouth.

Saturday's success was achieved at a cost - left-back Chris Barker was sent off for two bookable offences, and so serves a one-match suspension this evening.

Barker will also miss Saturday's trip to leaders Cardiff City. The 26-year-old is currently on loan from Ninian Park until January.

Williams has three options. He could move his skipper, Karl Duguid, from the right flank to left-back, or he could recall either George Elokobi or John White to fill the role vacated by Barker.

Duguid delivered a man-of-the-match performance in the demolition of Southend. He has a terrific understanding with Greg Halford on the right flank, so it would be a pity to disrupt that partnership tonight.

When Barker sat out Cardiff's visit to Layer Road at the beginning of the month, it was Elokobi who came in as his replacement. Elokobi coped well with the pressure of playing against the league leaders, and the U's duly chalked up a 3-1 victory.

However, Elokobi has not even been in the 16-man squad for the last couple of matches, so White might get the nod this evening. He was an unused substitute against Southend.

Whoever plays at left-back, it promises to be a busy evening for him, because former Colchester star Craig Fagan is set play on the right wing!

“We are on a fantastic run of results at home, but that's all history. We need to keep looking forward,” continued Williams.

“I thought that we started a bit slowly against Southend, which is unusual for us, because we have started most of our home games at a high tempo. But even then, we still created three good chances to Southend's one in the first-half.

“I'm sure that Hull will start climbing the table. As with any new manager, it takes time for new ideas to bed in. It didn't happen straight away for Phil at Colchester either. It takes time.

“They have a strong squad. You only have to look at a player like Mark Yeates, who was such an important player for us last season.

“Yeates has been on the bench a lot, and he wasn't even in the squad at Norwich on Saturday,” added Williams.

There is a chance that the U's boss could recall Kevin Watson to the starting line-up. The 32-year-old central midfielder had missed five games with a calf injury, before appearing as a 67th minute substitute against Southend.

And Watson responded by setting up Greg Halford for the opening goal, with his every first touch, even if it was just a simple pass - Halford did the rest with a powerful run and sensational finish.

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