Tasting the high life

COLCHESTER boss Phil Parkinson had previously bemoaned the fact that his winning team were not capturing the imagination of the media at large, but he can have no complaints after Saturday's taste of the high life.

By Carl Marston

COLCHESTER boss Phil Parkinson had previously bemoaned the fact that his winning team were not capturing the imagination of the media at large, but he can have no complaints after Saturday's taste of the high life.

The U's overcame Championship visitors Derby County, with a little to spare, in a 3-1 FA Cup fourth round success at Layer Road. And it was achieved under the full glare of the national media.

The television cameras were rolling, the radio microphones were buzzing and the pens of the newspaper hacks were smoking, such was the interest shown in United's surge through to the last 16 of the FA Cup.


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Although this was the U's 18th win from 20 games, Parkinson had felt that his side were not getting the recognition that they deserved, at a national level. He had rued that it was “as if Colchester didn't exist.” Well, just about everyone knows about their existence now.

“The spotlight is finally on us. It was different before. We were crying out for some exposure, so I can hardly complain about all the interest now!” insisted Parkinson.

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“We are all loving it. It's a great experience, but I'm not feeling the pressure. The important thing is to stay relaxed, and just enjoy the season.

“This latest achievement, to beat two Championship clubs in Sheffield United and now Derby County, is up there with my proudest ever moments in football.

“This FA Cup run means a lot to the club. It's generating lots of money, so there are a lot of smiles in the boardroom at the moment!

“I just hope that I can hold onto all my players this week. There are only two days left before the transfer window closes. I'm counting the hours, let alone the days.

“I can't wait to get to Wednesday, Hopefully, the squad will still be together,” added Parkinson.

The U's boss was especially pleased with the way his side reacted to the blow of missing four of their most experienced players due to injury - keeper Aidan Davison, defenders Wayne Brown and Liam Chilvers, and midfielder Kevin Watson were all forced to watch from the sidelines.

Their replacements had not enjoyed many first-team starts between them this season. But the quartet of Dean Gerken, Garry Richards, Pat Baldwin and Kem Izzet all played starring roles in the demolition of Derby.

“The most satisfying aspect of today for me was the way in which the players who had been waiting patiently for their chance, came in and took it.

“It was probably our biggest game of the season, but the likes of Garry (Richards) and Kem (Izzet) came in and did a fantastic job. They've all had to be very patient. They have played in the reserves, trained hard, and now taken their chance.

“I felt comfortable for virtually the whole of the game. Conditions were against us in the first half, because we were playing into a cold wind, so I would have been happy to get to half-time at 0-0.

“However, Neil (Danns) scored at just the right time, so I was very confident at 1-0 up at the break. I thought that whenever we got the ball, we looked a threat. We really hurt them in the second-half.

“We sat back a little and invited some pressure at 3-0 up, but otherwise we were comfortable throughout. The lads were excellent. They have such confidence and belief.

“We had that underdog mentality, which enabled us to raise our game and beat Derby County.

“I don't know who we'll get in the next round. Knowing our luck, we will get Brentford away!” concluded Parkinson wryly.

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