Revealed: secrets of U's success

COLCHESTER United's transformation from relegation fodder into play-off outsiders could not have been more dramatic.

Carl Marston

COLCHESTER United's transformation from relegation fodder into play-off outsiders could not have been more dramatic.

Paul Lambert's men have gathered an impressive 20 points out of a possible 27 in their last nine fixtures.

Compare that to the previous nine league games, starting with the home match against current league leaders Leicester City on September 30.

During that set of nine games, the U's mustered just 10 points from a possible 27. When combined with such a miserable start to the campaign, that left the Essex club in the bottom four less than two months ago.

Now, though, armed with a new-found self-confidence and a vastly-improved defensive record, the U's are on the brink of gate-crashing the top 10.

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They could even achieve that feat this weekend, if they can win at Bristol Rovers, and Tranmere Rovers lose at home to Carlisle.

So how has this transformation come about? Lambert, although naturally modest, must take much of the credit for his behind-the-scenes work in harness with his assistant Ian Culverhouse, who has helped to shore up the defence.

But there are other reasons. I have compiled a Top 10 of why I think the U's are suddenly eying up the play-offs (nine points adrift at the moment), rather than glancing over their shoulder at the relegation zone (15 points away).

Top 10 reasons for U's turnaround

1 Manager Paul Lambert's input

2 The arrival of free agent Alan Maybury

3 The dazzling form of winger Mark Yeates

4 A coup in the transfer market to sign left-back Marc Tierney

5 Finally ending the Community Stadium hoodoo

6 A new-look solid defence

7 An experienced keeper in Jimmy Walker

8 Maintaining a blistering away record

9 Financial backing of chairman Robbie Cowling

10 Skipper Dean Hammond leading by example

And bubbling just under the top 10

Defender Pat Baldwin's return from injury

The ever-reliable Kem Izzet

Winning breeds confidence

Club record signing Steven Gillespie champing at the bit

Improved home atmosphere

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