Relegation rivals pull away from U's

COLCHESTER United are now five points adrift of safety, following Saturday's postponement of their home match against Hull City.While the U's were kicking their heels, lowly rivals Sheffield Wednesday and QPR both won to make progress up the table.

Carl Marston

COLCHESTER United are now five points adrift of safety, following Saturday's postponement of their home match against Hull City.

While the U's were kicking their heels, lowly rivals Sheffield Wednesday and QPR both won to make progress up the table.

The Owls had begun the day fourth-from-bottom, just a couple of points ahead of the U's, but they stretched that gap to five thanks to a gritty 2-0 win over Sheffield United in the Steel City derby.

Free-spending QPR also notched a 2-0 win at home to Barnsley to pull further clear of the drop zone - in fact, Rangers look more likely to mount a late dash for the play-offs rather than linger in the relegation dogfight.

However, there was some good news for Geraint Williams' men, because the two teams immediately above them both lost.

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Struggling Scunthorpe suffered a 2-0 home defeat at the hands of Wolves, while third-from-bottom Preston tumbled to a 3-1 defeat at promotion-chasing Stoke. The U's have a game in hand over both these clubs.

Any chances that United had of clambering off the basement on Saturday were scuppered by referee Pat Miller's decision to call off their clash with Hull, due to a waterlogged pitch.

Hertfordshire-based Mr Miller conducted a thorough inspection of the Layer Road pitch at 12.30pm, and deemed the surface unplayable. The game was officially called off at 12.50pm, leaving many fans frustrated after travelling down from Humberside.

The U's had hosted an FA Youth Cup fourth round tie against Aston Villa Youths on Wednesday night, but heavy and persistent rain both on Friday and throughout Saturday saw conditions deteriorate.

Visitors Hull, together with Colchester old boys Wayne Brown and Richard Garcia, had travelled down to Essex from Humberside on Friday morning, so they had a wasted journey.

The news was also frustrating for U's new signings Chris Coyne and Phil Ifil, who were expected to make their home debuts after impressing in the previous weekend's 1-1 draw at Bristol City.

New assistant manager Kit Symons was also geared up to be in the Layer Road dug-out for the first time, since his appointment as Williams' number two on Wednesday. But at least he now has extra time to work with fellow Welshman Williams and the players on the training ground, before the next fixture.

Club skipper Karl Duguid was also back in the first-team squad after being rested for the Ashton Gate trip.

But midfielder Kevin Watson, who has only played once in the last two months because of a calf injury, was never going to figure against Hull, despite having returned to training last week.

Watson is some way off match-fitness, although he might enjoy a run-out for the reserves at Norwich City this evening.

The U's next scheduled first team game is at Barnsley tomorrow week.

They have no game this weekend, due to their third round exit of the FA Cup at the hands of Peterborough. Likewise, Hull are also not in action next Saturday.

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