Spirit alone won’t always be enough, says Ward

COLCHESTER United manager John Ward wants his side to combine quality and work rate for tonight’s visit of Brentford.

The U’s started the season as a side that played scintillating football but kept dropping points from winning positions (12 in all).

But while the performances levels have fallen a notch or two in recent weeks, Colchester have added a steely determination to their play and have now gained 11 points from losing positions.

Saturday’s 3-2 home victory over Hartlepool was a classic example of the above as the under-par U’s managed to grind out victory through sheer perseverance and a huge slice of luck after they were awarded a stoppage time penalty for a handball a good yard outside the box.

The result lifted the Essex club back up into third in the League One table, while a win over 13th place Brentford could potentially see them rise into the automatic promotion places.

Ward acknowledges that spirit alone won’t always be enough to win football matches though.

“We’ve got to bring the same work rate and attitude as Saturday, but also try and improve on our quality of play a little bit too,” he said.

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“I said before the Hartlepool that winning three successive home games would be really, really difficult. We’ve started off this little spell with a win, but we will have to play a bit better on Tuesday if we are to keep it up.”

Tonight’s game is the second of three successive home games in the space of eight days for the U’s who host non-league side Swindon Supermarine this coming Saturday.

And while attendances haven’t been great at The Weston Homes Community Stadium this season, the matches there have rarely been dull.

The last three games at the A12 venue have provided a sensational return of 17 goals, there have been 39 witnessed there in all competitions so far this campaign (a rate of nearly four a game), while none of the 11 games has provided less than two goals.

“It’s not always that easy to watch as a manager and obviously I’d like us to be conceding less, but hopefully the supporters are going away enjoying these matches,” said Ward.

U’s captain Kemi Izzet is unavailable through suspension tonight after he picked up his fifth booking of the season as a substitute on Saturday, Ward having left him out of the starting XI in attempt to keep him fresh for this evening.

Meanwhile, loanee duo Tom Williams and David Mooney are both battling to be fit after injury. Left-back Williams has missed the last two games with a groin problem, while striker Mooney missed his first game of the season on Saturday after injuring his calf in training.

Brentford boss Andy Scott hit out at what he called ‘negativity’ surrounding the club following their 2-1 victory at Plymouth on Saturday.

The Bees enjoyed a fantastic run in the Carling Cup earlier in the season, knocking out Hull City and Everton before eventually bowing out on penalties to Birmingham. Saturday’s win was their first in six games this month though and came just four days after they crashed out of the FA Cup to League Two side Aldershot.

Brentford are currently without a number of first choice players through injury, including the likes of Stephen Wright, Sam Wood, Myles Weston and Carl Cort.

Striker Charlie MacDonald – a one-time U’s loanee – took his goal tally for the season to five at the weekend, with former Ipswich Town players Pim Balkestein and Nicky Forster on the bench.

– For live match updates from tonight’s game, follow Stuart_Watson on www.twitter.com.

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