U's make it an away day

by David VincentAfter some fine performances on the road, with wins at Yeovil Town (LDV Vans Trophy) and Wrexham (league) within five days, Colchester United are treating their FA Cup tie against Oxford United like an away-day.

by David Vincent

After some fine performances on the road, with wins at Yeovil Town (LDV Vans Trophy) and Wrexham (league) within five days, Colchester United are treating their FA Cup tie against Oxford United like an away-day.

Manager Phil Parkinson and his squad are meeting up for a pre-match meal at the Holiday Inn before travelling to Layer Road.

“The FA Cup is always special,” said Parkinson. “It has been a nice break from the league to have these two different cup competitions.

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“The lads know it is a big game for the club. It is a good game to enable us to keep our recent rich vein of form going.

“Success at the club is built on hard work.

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“When we won against Chesterfield (on October 25) it was through hard work rather than flair.

“Another time a moment of magic from a individual player might win you the game.

“Every good team has got to build on a solid keeper and defence.”

Parkinson paid tribute to keeper Simon Brown who has been in sparkling form recently with two saves in the penalty shoot-out at Huish Park to take Colchester through on Tuesday after the teams were tied 2-2 after extra time.

“He is an excellent keeper and good lad. Anybody who is prepared to work as hard as he does for the team deserves their opportunities.

“He has done very well this year. It has been his turn to earn the headlines with his penalty saves and an excellent save against Yeovil.

“He has set his standard high and he is working hard to maintain that.”

After a disappointing start to the season, Colchester and Parkinson have pulled things together and also risen to sixth place in the Second Division.

Parkinson said: “We know it is only November but we are pleased to be in sixth position.

“We were very disappointed with the first three games. It is credit to the character and the work ethic at the club that we are here, and to be in with a shout at the top of the table, after 17 games.”

U's centre half Liam Chilvers looks like being fit, while midfielder Kem Izzet and defender Karl Duguid are doubtful.

Duguid was suspended for Tuesday's game and returned to training yesterday after flu.

But Andy Myers is fit again and his return will allow Sam Stockley to switch back to the right side.

Parkinson doesn't usually have a pre-match meal on Saturdays, preferring to eat breakfast and then watch the youth team play.

“It is important for the manager to keep an eye on the young players coming through. These lads are vital to the future of the club.”

And he is pleased that teenage keeper Dean Gerken is interesting the England coaching staff with Ray Clemence watching him play for the reserves on Wednesday.

“He is a good young player. We don't have young players just hanging about for three years here. They are here to make a mark and put pressure on older players for first-team places.”

Colchester from: Brown, Halford, Stockley, Fitzgerald, White, Chilvers, Pinault, Bowry, Fagan, Keith, Andrews, Vine, G Johnson, McGleish, Gerken, Baldwin, Duguid and Izzet.

Oxford from: Woodman, McNiven, Ashton, Crosby, Bound, Brown, Wanless, Hunt, Whitehead, Alsop, Basham, Rawle, Hackett, Louis and Townsley.

n Colchester have stepped up their search for midfield reinforcements after the surprise departure of former Watford player Richard Johnson.

Aussie Johnson, 29, joined United on a non-contract basis, played three reserve games and came on from the substitutes' bench during Tuesday night's LDV Vans Trophy win over Yeovil Town.

But Tony Pullis has stepped in to lure him to Stoke City of the First Division and he has signed a three-month deal at the Britannia Stadium.

Phil Parkinson said: “Richard has decided to leave the club and sign a three-month contract with Stoke City, who have given him a chance to step up a division and he goes there with our best wishes.”


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