Watson give U's fans hope

COLCHESTER United midfielder Kevin Watson believes that the out-of-sorts U's have turned a corner, and are still good bets for promotion this season.

By Carl Marston

COLCHESTER United midfielder Kevin Watson believes that the out-of-sorts U's have turned a corner, and are still good bets for promotion this season.

A miserable run of seven defeats and one draw from their last eight matches is relegation form, not promotion material, but United showed signs of rediscovering their old touch against Swansea in midweek.

Today, the U's have an opportunity to return to winning ways at home to relegation-haunted Swindon Town. It would give them a good platform for the final seven weeks of the campaign.

Phil Parkinson's men played well for 50 minutes against the Swans, and also ended their goal-drought through Neil Danns' long-range strike. The Welshmen rallied with two quickfire goals to win the second leg of this LDV Vans Trophy southern area final 2-1 on the night, and 3-1 on aggregate, but it was not all doom and gloom at Layer Road.

The U's may have blown a chance of making a first-ever appearance at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, in this competition, but they now have 11 games remaining to mount a serious bid for promotion.

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The Millennium Stadium could still be reached, via the play-offs, although Watson has not ruled out a top-two finish just yet.

“I felt that we were back to where we were before our bad run started, at least for the first-half against Swansea,” insisted Watson.

“We had a lot of space. We stretched the pitch with our good passing, and played at a high tempo. Swansea had no answer during the first-half, and that's something we must build on.

“Despite our recent poor run of results, we are still in a very good position. One of my old teams, Rotherham, did us a big favour by beating Oldham in midweek, so that has kept us three points ahead of Oldham with two games in hand.

“Our destiny is still in our own hands. But I've told the rest of the lads that we can't keep expecting other teams to do us a favour. Other results may have gone our way, but ultimately we must put it right ourselves.

“I have certainly not given up hope of making the top two. We still have to play Brentford at home, and we have two games in hand over most of our rivals.

“As far as we're concerned, it's all about us,” added Watson.

Central playmaker Watson will be up against his old club today - the 32-year-old enjoyed three seasons at Swindon between 1996 and '99.

The U's slumped to a 1-0 defeat at then-basement club Swindon on Boxing Day, undone by Rory Fallon's injury-time header. Fallon has since moved on to Swansea, although ex-Colchester loanee Jamie Cureton will be a danger leading the Robins front-line this afternoon.

“The performance at Swindon was perhaps our poorest of the season. We had been playing well, but we were very poor on the day,” recalled Watson.

“We would have counted our blessings if it had stayed at 0-0, but they then got the late goal. It would be nice to get one over my old team this weekend.

“I know their manager (Iffy Onuora) very well, and his assistant Alan Reeves was a player when I was there. Then of course there is Jamie Cureton. The goals he scored for us (seven in 10 appearances) really started off his season. We need to keep him quiet.

“It's only a very thin line between success and failure, and we have had a lot of bad luck recently. We played Huddersfield off the park, only to lose 2-0, and we have also been beaten by a couple of late goals (at Barnsley and Oldham).

“All teams go through a bad run. Even Southend went six or seven games without a win earlier in the season. Hopefully, the tide has turned with our improved performance against Swansea,” added Watson.

The U's welcome back midfielder Kem Izzet after suspension. The former Charlton trainee was sent off at Oldham last weekend, which caused him to miss the LDV Vans Trophy defeat by Swansea.

And new signing Scott Vernon, snapped up on loan from Blackpool yesterday, will make his debut today.

Striker Richard Garcia will again miss out with a knee injury, while fellow front-runner Gareth Williams and defender Sam Stockley joined up with their new team-mates at Blackpool yesterday. Both Stockley and Williams have signed on loan for the Seasiders until the end of the season.


COLCHESTER UNITED: Davison, Baldwin, Chilvers, Brown, White, Halford, Watson, Danns, Yeates, Iwelumo, Duguid, Vernon, Izzet, Guy, Baldwin, Richards, Elokobi, Gerken.

SWINDON TOWN: Evans, O'Hanlon, Gurney, Jenkins, Smith, Whalley, Pook, Brown, Nicholas, Peacock, Cureton, Miglioranzi, Shakes, Bulman, Benjamin, Roberts, Jarrett.

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