Ben keen to make up for lost time

BEN Williams is making up for lost time as Colchester United's No. 1 choice keeper this season.Recruited by former manager Paul Lambert from Carlisle over the summer, Williams has started each of the U's first seven league games of the season.

Carl Marston

BEN Williams is making up for lost time as Colchester United's No. 1 choice keeper this season.

Recruited by former manager Paul Lambert from Carlisle over the summer, Williams has started each of the U's first seven league games of the season.

The 27-year-old learnt his trade as an apprentice at Manchester United, and also spent four years at Crewe Alexandra, but he has found a new lease of life at the Community Stadium.

Williams explained: “I was at Crewe for four years and they never had a goalkeeping coach.

“I don't think Dario Gradi (former Crewe manager) believed in them, but I think this really affected me. I think having no goalkeeping coach for so long has been detrimental to my career.

Most Read

“I don't think it's a surprise that no promising young keeper has ever come through the ranks at Crewe and gone on to big things, unlike the huge number of outfield players that have been produced by the club. I am now really starting out for the third time in my career. I've been a slow starter, but I'm still only 27.

“I started out late at Manchester United, as a 17-year-old, started over again at Crewe, and now I'm doing the same at Colchester.

“But there is a good set-up here (Ademole Bankole as goalkeeping coach), and I enjoy training with Mark Cousins, who is a good young keeper,” added Williams.

Gradi, who was Crewe manager from 1983 to 2007, is currently the director of football at Gresty Road.

During his 26-year stint with the Cheshire club, he has launched the careers of many top-class players, including David Platt, Danny Murphy, Ashley Ward and Dean Ashton. But as Williams revealed, producing top-notch goalkeepers was never high on Gradi's agenda.

Williams never made a first team appearance for Manchester United, eventually moving to Crewe on a free transfer in March, 2004 - he had actually made his League debut while on loan at Chesterfield just over a year earlier.

He rattled up 135 league appearances for Crewe, and after one season at Carlisle, he signed for the U's over the summer.

To date, he has conceded just eight goals from his first seven outings for the U's, keeping his first clean-sheet in the goalless draw at Southampton.

A quick-fire counter-attack by Swindon, which resulted in Temitope Obadeyi's equaliser, denied him a second clean sheet at the County Ground on Saturday.

“Swindon are a tough team to play, but we could have won this game,” continued Williams, with reference to the 1-1 draw.

“I think defensively we have a good foundation. John White and Matt Heath came in at Swindon, and it was like they had been in the team all season.

“Of course we started the season well, with the 7-1 win at Norwich, after which people were always going to watch us closely to see if we could keep that up. It would have been impossible to do that every week.

“But we didn't get carried away, and I think we are in our current position (sixth) on merit. It does not flatter us.

“We are capable of grinding out results, as we have showed with the recent away draws at Southampton (0-0) and Swindon.”

The U's are looking forward to their first home match under new boss Aidy Boothroyd, against Hartlepool this Saturday.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter