U’s and me: Colchester United’s route to safety
- Credit: Su Anderson
Here I pinpoint what Colchester United need to do to stay up:
Colchester United need to win at least five, if not six, of their final 14 fixtures to escape relegation for a third year running.
Recent history suggests that 52 points is the safety mark for teams in League One, which means that Tony Humes’ men still require 18 points from a possible 42 in their last 14 outings.
That equates to a straight six wins from 14, or more likely five wins and three draws, to be assured of safety.
No team finishing on 52 points has been relegated from the third tier for the last 14 seasons, since the new Millennium, so that has to be the U’s target.
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But it won’t be easy, especially with the U’s woeful record on home soil – until the most recent 3-2 win over league leaders Bristol City!
Suffering seven defeats from their last nine home league games is the prime reason why United are in this mess – and that has to improve.
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Of course, clubs have stayed up with less than the 52-point barrier, but to be on the safe side, that has to be the goal of the struggling U’s.
That is illustrated by the experiences of Torquay United, 10 years ago. The Gulls finished the 2004-05 campaign with 51 points, but were still relegated.
Now, of course, the Devon club are a mid-table team in the Conference.
A final tally of 50 points has likewise been insufficient to prevent the likes of Gillingham (2010), Hartlepool (2006), MK Dons (2006) and Grimsby (2004) from being relegated from League One.
So where are the U’s going to accumulate those daunting 18 extra points, to achieve safety?
Certainly, if they do manage to pull off another escape act, then it might require a repeat of the 2012-13 season when Joe Dunne’s men stayed up on the final day of the campaign, thanks to a 2-0 away win at Carlisle.
Last term, the U’s were effectively safe before going into the final day, after beating Brentford 4-1 in their last home game on the penultimate weekend.
Humes’ side have been far better on the road, than at home, and they will have to continue to pick up positive results on their travels to combat such a dreadful record at the Weston Homes Community Stadium.
The U’s still have every chance of preserving their League One status into an eighth successive season, but it will not be easy. You feel they must win at least two of their home matches against fellow strugglers Notts County, Crawley and Yeovil in March, and then beat either Barnsley or Scunthorpe in April.
That would earn them 12 points, and it would be useful if Preston, the visitors to the Community Stadium on the last day of the season, are already guaranteed a play-off spot by then, to give the U’s an excellent opportunity of another home win.
That would leave an extra six points to be secured from away fixtures.
A win at relegation rivals Coventry in mid-April would be welcome, and draws at the likes of Gillingham, Port Vale and Fleetwood would seen them home.
But that’s easier said than done!
The U’s are currently one place outside the relegation zone, on 34 points from 32 games. To achieve their safety target of 52 points, here’s where I think they could get their remaining 18 points
0 Doncaster (a)
3 Notts County (h)
0 Rochdale (a)
0 Crawley (h)
3 Yeovil (h)
1 Gillingham (a)
0 Swindon (h)
1 Port Vale (a)
3 Barnsley (h)
3 Coventry (a)
0 Chesterfield (a)
0 Scunthorpe (h)
1 Fleetwood (a)
3 Preston (h)