U’s bench creaking under the strain of quality

COLCHESTER United’s bench, for Saturday’s Essex derby against Leyton Orient, was reason for good cheer even BEFORE the U’s had eased to a 1-0 win.

At times this campaign, the U’s squad has looked a little threadbare, certainly in terms of back-up players.

But that was not the case at Brisbane Road. For the first time this campaign, the U’s had two out-and-out strikers on the bench, in Steven Gillespie and Kayode Odejayi.

And Gillespie did not even get on the pitch, despite scoring in both the U’s previous two games against Scunthorpe and Chesterfield.

Midfielder Andy Bond was another not to figure, while left-sided defenders Michael Rose and Ben Coker also sat out the 90 minutes.

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Manger John Ward confirmed: “We knew we had to try and stay on the front foot, and we did this.

“Today we had match winners on the pitch and match winners on the bench, and that’s not just to score goals, but to make sure that you win.

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“I had people like Kayode (Odejayi), Andy Bond and Steve Gillespie who were itching to get on and get involved.

It looks a strong squad whenever everyone is fit,” added Ward.

The only worrying aspect is the lack of a deputy centre-half, due to Pat Baldwin’s move to Southend on Friday, and Matt Heath’s current struggle with a groin injury.

Instead, Ward is relying on the versatile John White to fit in at centre-half, if something was to happen to either Magnus Okuonghae or Tom Eastman.

A 28th minute own goal from O’s defender Terrell Forbes – although U’s striker Ian Henderson is claiming the goal – was enough to lift Ward’s men up to the 12th in the table.

And there was no need for a backs-to-the-wall display from the visitors during the second half, because they never allowed Orient to get up a head of steam.

“We told ourselves at half-time that if we sat back on our lead, then we would give ourselves a problem, because there is a real quality about their front players,” explained Ward.

“We had good legs and good endeavour up front.

“Ian (Henderson) told me that he got a touch (for the goal), but he’s the striker. Ian is a bit of a pest sometimes, so it might not be correct,” joked Ward.

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