Still plenty to play for - Parkinson

COLCHESTER United boss Phil Parkinson admits that his side have endured a “terrible last month,” but that they are still in the midst of an exciting season.

By Carl Marston

COLCHESTER United boss Phil Parkinson admits that his side have endured a “terrible last month,” but that they are still in the midst of an exciting season.

The U's were top of the table when beating Scunthorpe 1-0 on February 7. They have since failed to win any of their last seven league and cup matches, and so now face a battle to stay in the top six.

Defeats at the hands of promotion rivals Huddersfield, Barnsley, Southend and Oldham have knocked the U's off course during the last four weeks. However, there is still much to look forward to at Layer Road.

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“It's now going to be a test of character for us, not just for the players but also me and the coaching staff,” insisted Parkinson after the 1-0 defeat at Oldham on Saturday.

“I thought we were excellent in the first half, and we should have been ahead at the break. We were not quite so good in the second half, but the lads kept going and I couldn't fault their application.

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“The sending-off (of Kem Izzet) knocked us back, and we then conceded the late goal. The lads are understandably feeling very down, because they put in a lot of effort. It's just not going for us.

“We have taken all the plaudits this season, so we must now accept some of the criticism that I'm sure we will get. However, we must stick together.

“It's been a bad month, in fact a terrible last month. We have worked very hard to get where we are. I don't know about the top two, because Southend now have a good cushion, but we still have to play (second-placed) Brentford at home, so things can change.

“We have set such very high standards this season, and we're now struggling to maintain them.

“We spoke about the importance of the Oldham game. If we had won, then we would have been nine points clear of them, so this is a big win for Oldham,” added Parkinson.

No Colchester player has scored a goal in the last seven matches, a remarkable statistic when considered that the chances have continued to flow aplenty.

Neil Danns rattled the bar with a first-half shot, and Greg Halford then scooped a close-range effort over the bar with the very last kick of the game.

“They are the sort of chances that we should be putting away,” admitted Parkinson.

“The best-paid players in this game are the ones that can score from these positions. The most disappointing factor for me was that we didn't make their keeper work hard enough.

“As for Kem's (Izzet's) sending-off, I thought the first booking was very harsh, although the second challenge was a booking. Kem was tiring. He had worked his socks off for us, and he was unlucky not to score. He had played well.

“The whole squad had been suffering from a stomach bug. Many of the lads had been sick the night before, so it wasn't the ideal build-up.

“But there is so much to look forward to, and Tuesday night at Layer Road should be really exciting,” added Parkinson.

The U's entertain Swansea City in the second leg of the LDV Vans Trophy southern area final tomorrow evening.

They trail by just 1-0 after the first leg in south Wales, and the aggregate winners will be rewarded with an appearance at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, against northern champions Carlisle.

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