Ward admits U’s need to score more

COLCHESTER United manager John Ward admits his side need to start scoring more goals.

The U’s 2-0 defeat at Notts County on Tuesday night means they have now gone over nine hours without scoring on their travels.

Only five teams have scored fewer goals than their 36 in League One this season, while they have only won a game by more than a single goal on one occasion this season (Tranmere, 3-1 at home). The fewest goals scored by current incumbents of the top six so far is 47 (Charlton).

And yet the Essex side remain very much in the hunt for the play-off places thanks to their fantastic home record and hard-to-beat reputation.

Today’s visit of Walsall represents a chance to make it four consecutive home wins and nine victories from their last 12 games at The Weston Homes Community Stadium.

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“We were disappointed with the result on Tuesday night, we should have scored goals, we had good opportunities to do that, but we didn’t and that’s been one of our failings this season,” admitted Ward.

“We’ve been up and down with our recent results, but in general the performances have been okay. We’re creating opportunities to score we’re just not taking them.

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“That doesn’t mean it’s something our players can’t do, they’re just not doing at the moment. It wasn’t that long ago that people were saying that Wayne Rooney was finished and he comes back with one of the best goals ever at Old Trafford. Now people are writing of Fernando Torres but I’ve no doubt that he’ll score for Chelsea soon and shut them up for a while.

“Consistency is a problem for players at all levels and we at Colchester United are no different. I’m sure if we create the chances on Saturday then we’re likely to put two or three away.

“The facts and figures show we haven’t converted enough of the opportunities we’ve created throughout the season so far though and that’s something we want to put right.”

Less than a month ago Walsall were being written off as certain relegation fodder after they’d been cut nine points adrift at the foot-of-the-table.

The West Midlands club have been resurgent under new manager Dean Smith, who was promoted from youth team boss in January after Chris Hutchings was sacked, and have reduced the gap to 20th to just three points following three wins from their last five games.

Today’s game sees the return of a couple of familiar faces to Colchester. Veteran keeper Jimmy Walker made 16 appearances for the U’s in the 2008/9 season, while left-back Tom Williams – who made nine appearances on loan for Colchester earlier this season – signed for the Saddlers last week.

In further East Anglian interest Walsall have former Ipswich Town players Matt Richards and Jonathan Maken, as well as Matthew Gill on loan from Norwich – the midfielder having made his Canaries debut in their 7-1 thrashing by Colchester at the start of last season.

U’s boss Ward will hand late fitness tests to striker Steven Gillespie – who has scored four goals in his last three home games – and defender Pat Baldwin today after the duo missed Tuesday night’s match with a hamstring and Achilles problem respectively. Midfielders Ashley Vincent and Ian Henderson have also been struggling with illness this week.

Walsall are without striker Darren Byfield – who scored in both games against the U’s last season – today (knee), but could recall Carlisle loanee Jason Price to their forward line after his recovery from an Achilles problem.

– For live match updates, follow Stuart_Watson on www.twitter.com.

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