Williams awaits his chance
GARETH Williams has suffered, more than any other player, from Colchester United's rich vein of form.Front-runner Williams has had to take a back seat while Phil Parkinson's men have soared into the top six of League One.
By Carl Marston
GARETH Williams has suffered, more than any other player, from Colchester United's rich vein of form.
Front-runner Williams has had to take a back seat while Phil Parkinson's men have soared into the top six of League One.
Not only has he failed to get into the side, but he has even struggled to find a place in the 16-man squad.
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Williams has not had much luck this campaign. He is still waiting to celebrate his first goal, despite rattling the woodwork on numerous occasions.
The ex-Crystal Palace striker was handed a rare appearance in the starting line-up at MK Dons on Tuesday night, only his sixth start of the season. In fact, he has not started a league match since the 2-1 home defeat by Chesterfield on October 1.
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Williams played the whole match in the U's 2-1 win at the National Hockey Stadium, which secured a route through to the LDV Vans Trophy semi-final stage - the draw is tomorrow.
He knows that manager Parkinson is likely to revert to his more familiar team for the Boxing Day visit to basement club Swindon Town, although fellow striker Jamie Cureton's enforced absence might mean a rare outing in the 16-man squad.
Cureton is currently on loan from the Robins, and so will not be allowed to figure against his full-time employers.
“It was just nice to play a game,” admitted a frustrated Williams, with reference to Tuesday night's win at MK Dons.
“The team has had a superb run, but the confidence runs throughout the whole squad. We are all desperate to play. It's a squad game, and the watch-word has been patience.
“All I can do is keep sharp and keep waiting for my chance. I hit the top of the bar at MK Dons, and I reckon that's about the sixth time that I have hit the woodwork this season!” added Williams.
The 23-year-old Welshman would love to have enjoyed a more direct role in the U's current success story - they are unbeaten in their last 12 games, having won 10 of their last 11 fixtures.
But he remains realistic. He explained: “The team has been going on a frightening run. Ten wins out of 11 is amazing.
“It's going to be difficult to keep it going, but we have a great chance at Swindon on Boxing Day. They have been struggling this season.
“The gaffer made 10 changes to the team at MK Dons, which just goes to prove that we have two very strong teams at the club. No one looked out of place.
“It's great that we have moved up to fourth spot in the league, and are also going well in the Trophy and the FA Cup,” added Williams, who had two loan stints at Layer Road before making the move from Selhurst Park a permanent one in September, 2004.
Williams was in-and-out of the side last season, despite scoring five goals, but he has found it even more difficult to make an impact this term, especially since Cureton's arrival on loan from Swindon.
The Cardiff-born striker thought that he had broken his duck with a last-minute goal against the Dons on Tuesday night, only for that effort, from Greg Halford's cross, to be ruled out for offside.
“I didn't think that I was offside,” insisted Williams. “I thought that I was running level with the defenders.
“Some of the lads have told me that they thought I was offside, but I believe that there was such a delay while the ball came across that I wasn't offside to begin with. It only looked it when I put the ball in the back of the net.”
Cureton's loan stint from the Robins expires after the visit to Brentford on New Year's Eve, so Williams might have a more hands-on role in the team during the new year.
Parkinson has selected the same starting line-up for the last five league matches, but that will not be possible at the County Ground on Boxing Day, due to Cureton's ineligibility.
The U's boss has options. He could revert to the system of playing just Chris Iwelumo up front, with an on-fire Neil Danns in support just behind him, or he could give either Williams or Richard Garcia a chance to shine alongside leading scorer Iwelumo.
Wide-man Karl Duguid is also pushing for a place after impressing against the Dons. He crowned a captain's performance with the equalising goal.