U’s defence have responded to goalscoring challenge

COLCHESTER United manager John Ward is delighted that his defenders have responded to his pre-season challenge of contributing more goals to the team.

Of the U’s 64 goals in League One last season just one was scored by a defender – on loan Wolves centre-back Danny Batth heading home a corner against Oldham in February.

Ward immediately called for an improvement upon this statistic when he took over from Aidy Boothroyd this summer and his side have responded spectacularly with four different defenders providing almost a quarter of their 21 league goals so far.

Magnus Okuonghae has already equalled his best-ever goal tally for a season after netting against Tranmere and MK Dons, while on-loan Bristol City left-back Tom Williams scored a long-range free-kick at Bournemouth last weekend.

And the theme continued on Tuesday night when centre-back Matt Heath opened the scoring against Leyton Orient, before right-back Brian Wilson sealed the win with a curling free-kick.

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“Last year only Danny Batth scored from our defence which was not a good statistic,” said Ward. “I challenged them to improve upon that and they have certainly responded.

“We’ve shown we can score goals from different areas of this team which is a great asset to have. We know that if teams decide to stop Ashley Vincent playing for example then we can ask the question of them, can you stop David Mooney playing too?

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“And if they can stop him playing, then can they stop Ian Henderson who can score goals too?

“The point is, we have got variation and we’re not predictable with what we do.”

Ward, who has switched about his formation in recent weeks, continued: “I think teams were starting to figure us out a bit, but we’ve been able to adjust the team.

“The boys are trusting my decisions and I’m trusting them to make their own on the pitch too. I’m lucky enough to have a very flexible squad with a number of players who can play in a few positions.

“I like round pegs in round holes, but sometimes you have to try something different.”

– For a two-page match preview of the FA Cup first round tie between Colchester United and Bradford City, see Saturday’s EADT.

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