‘We’ve got to step up to the plate and be men’ – Colchester United striker Macauley Bonne
Macauley Bonne believes that “now is the time” for Colchester United’s young Academy products to step up to the plate and help to secure promotion for the Essex club.
Bonne was one of five U’s Academy graduates on the pitch at Cambridge at the end of last weekend’s battling 1-1 draw, alongside fellow former youth team colleagues Drey Wright,Tom Lapslie, Sammie Szmodics and Cameron James.
Front-runner Bonne, back with the U’s following a month’s loan spell at National League strugglers Woking, made an impact off the bench at the Abbey Stadium, on his return to his parent club.
The 21-year-old actually had the ball in the back of the net, within 60 seconds of coming on as an 80th minute substitute, although his effort was ruled out by a tight offside decision.
Now Bonne is looking to help boost the U’s play-off hopes, at the very least, during the last 11 games of the campaign, starting with tomorrow’s big home match against third-placed Portsmouth.
“It’s now time for us youngsters to show what we can do,” insisted Bonne, following yesterday’s training session at Florence Park, Tiptree.
“We’ve got to step up to the plate and be men. Players like Tom (Lapslie), Sammie (Szmodics) and myself have all come through the same youth team, and we want to now play our part in getting the club promoted.
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“We have 11 games left, and seven of these are at home, so we have a great chance. It’s terrific to have so many games at home, coming up,” added Bonne.
The U’s, who are two places and three points adrift of the play-offs, actually have the third best home record in League Two, only bettered by the top two of Doncaster Rovers and Plymouth.
Leaders Rovers have an unbeaten home league record, with 11 wins and six draws at the Keepmoat Stadium, while second-placed Plymouth have collected 33 points on home turf, with 10 wins and three draws at Home Park.
John McGreal’s men are not far behind, having won 10 of their first 16 home league fixtures, with two draws and just four defeats at the Weston Homes Community Stadium.
“We are all looking forward to some big home games, between now and the end of the season,” confirmed Bonne.
“I love playing in the big games against the top opposition, because there’s always a real buzz about the place. That gives you fire in your belly, and it will be good to take on a top-three side in Portsmouth.
“I thought we played well at Cambridge last weekend, and I believe that we could, and should, have nicked it (in a 1-1 draw).
“I think that the three of us coming on, Sammie (Szmodics), Rekeil (Pyke) and myself made a difference because we suddenly managed to turn their back four and get behind them.
“Ports (Chris Porter) is the club’s main No. 9, and he had kept grinding on, but I think it needed something a little different towards the end, and we three provided it.
“Obviously, Ports is the best target man that we have got, and he can hold up the ball so well. I’m not really a target man, I’m a different kind of striker.
“I like to play with Ports, and I feel that I can play off him to good effect, although I also thought that Rekeil and I really clicked when we came on at Cambridge, with Sammie in the No. 10 role behind us.”
Bonne has gained valuable experience in the National League this season, playing eight games at title contenders Lincoln City last autumn, and then making seven appearances for Woking, at the other end of the table, for a month from the end of January.
The Ipswich-born striker did not score for Woking, although he made five starts and so got a lot of minutes under his belt.
“The ball just didn’t fall for me,” explained Bonne. “However, I felt that my movement was good at Woking. I got into some good positions and some good areas, and I felt that I did everything except score.
“Now I’m looking to make a big impact again, on my return, which is what I try and do whenever I come back from a loan spell.
“Whenever I’ve gone out on loan, I’ve taken it on the chin and got on with it, and I honestly don’t think there is much difference between League Two and National League.
“I know that I am good enough to play for Colchester United, and I want to prove it with these big games coming up,” added Bonne.
After tomorrow’s visit of Portsmouth, the U’s entertain play-off rivals Mansfield Town on Tuesday evening.