Youths mirror first-team success

THE success of Colchester United's senior side is being mirrored by a fantastic run from the U's youth team.Joe Dunne's side are unbeaten in their last 12 league and cup games, their latest success ensuring a visit to Crystal Palace later this month.

By Carl Marston

THE success of Colchester United's senior side is being mirrored by a fantastic run from the U's youth team.

Joe Dunne's side are unbeaten in their last 12 league and cup games, their latest success ensuring a visit to Crystal Palace later this month.

The U's under-18 outfit beat Barking & East Ham 3-2 in Tuesday night's FA Youth Cup second-round tie, and their reward is a third-round game at Selhurst Park on Thursday, December 15.


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Anthony Wordsworth, Craig Hughes and Tom Webb were on the score-sheet, although youth team manager Dunne was far from happy with his side's display. “It was not as close as the score-line suggested. We created more than 20 goal-scoring chances,” explained Dunne.

“We learnt a harsh lesson in football development that night. Our attacking play was excellent, but we lacked ideas in the 18-yard box.

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“That's something we will have to work on in training, although it's great for the club that we are through to the third round again.”

Dunne believes that the success of Phil Parkinson's senior side, who have risen to the brink of the play-off zone, is having a positive effect on his young team.

“There is a lot of euphoria around the club at the moment, and it's nice to be a part of it,” admitted Dunne, who made 163 league appearances for the U's as a full-back.

“The success of the first team rubs off on the rest of us. The place is full of confidence. It generates enthusiasm, and that's what every young player needs.

“Over the years, the youth team has visited some wonderful grounds in the FA Youth Cup (like Leeds United, Arsenal and Blackburn), and it's great that these lads will get a chance to play at Selhurst Park.

“We had a good run in the Cup last season, making the quarter-finals, but we never got to visit a really major stadium. Naturally, the Crystal Palace game will be on the minds of the lads for the next two weeks. You can't fault them for that.

“It's all very nice having these winning streaks and unbeaten runs, but my job is to nurture some of these players through to the first team.

“They are on two-year rather than three-year deals now. The third-year lads spend their time with the first team. They don't train with us.

“That's what happened to players like John White, Garry Richards and Dean Gerken, and what's now happening to lads like Jamie Guy, Robbie King and Russell Pond,” added Dunne.

The U's under-18s will put their unbeaten run on the line at South East Conference leaders Brighton & Hove Albion tomorrow.

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