There’s more to come from Colchester United stalwart Tom Eastman

Tom Eastman battles with Luton striker Jack Marriott on Boxing Day

Tom Eastman battles with Luton striker Jack Marriott on Boxing Day

Tom Eastman celebrated his 200th Football League appearance, in a Colchester United shirt, with a top-notch display during the 1-0 win at Luton Town on Boxing Day.

Centre-half Eastman, part of a new-look three-man central defence that has so impressed over the last five weeks, delivered a man-of-the-match performance at Kenilworth Road.

Craig Slater came up trumps with an 83rd minute winner, in a game of few chances, although Eastman’s role was crucial alongside sweeper Frankie Kent and left-sided centre-half George Elokobi.

“I think Tom (Eastman) has really stepped up his performances of late,” enthused manager John McGreal.

“He’s now progressing forwards with the ball as well, he really enjoys that position, and I think there is more to come from him.

“Tom’s asking questions about how to get himself into good positions, because he is comfortable on the ball.

“And defensively he put his head on it. (Danny) Hylton is a hell of a threat, he’s a really good player at this level and I thought we kept him relatively quiet,” added McGreal.

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Eastman can boast a very proud record with the U’s, ever since he arrived from Roy Keane’s Ipswich Town in the summer of 2011.

In fact the 25-year-old, who on Boxing Day became only the 30th player to make 200 or more league appearances for Colchester United, has only missed four matches in the last three years, since November, 2013.

On the Boxing Day win at Luton, and midfielder Slater’s clinical strike, McGreal said: “We got the goal we were craving late on.

“It was a brilliant strike from Craig (Slater), especially keeping it under control and with the amount of bodies they had in the box, he still managed to pick the corner out.

“Midway through the second half, Luton had a lot of territory, with a lot of balls into the box.

“We can’t hide from this – it’s been a terrific win, because Luton had been of fire of late.

“We showed them respect, because they have qualities throughout, especially with the two up front, so to come away with a clean-sheet is an added bonus.”

The U’s are up to 10th in the League Two table, just four points adrift of the play-off zone, after an impressive run of four wins and a draw in their last five fixtures.

That’s a such contrast to the previous 13 games without a win, in all competitions, which had left McGreal’s men second from bottom of the Football League.

McGreal continued: “There’s something different that has happened to the boys.

“We didn’t moan about it, when we didn’t have luck at times. The lads kept their heads down and worked hard behind the scenes at the training ground, and now we are getting the results.”

The U’s are next in action on New Year’s Eve, away at Stevenage, who are level on points (30) but have an inferior goal difference.

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