Cousins a ray of sunshine

YOUNG keeper Mark Cousins was the one ray of sunshine on an otherwise gloomy afternoon for Colchester United.

Carl Marston

By Carl Marston

YOUNG keeper Mark Cousins was the one ray of sunshine on an otherwise gloomy afternoon for Colchester United.

The U's bowed out of the FA Cup at the hands of fellow League Two club Leyton Orient, who deserved their 1-0 victory courtesy of Jason Demetriou's 80th minute strike.

Cousins had no chance with the goal. In fact, the 21-year-old produced a man of the match performance on what was his full home debut, and only his fourth ever senior start - the other three had been in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy.

Now ex-youth teamer Cousins must stand a good chance of retaining his place to start his first league game against Walsall next weekend.

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“I'm pleased with the way I played. Personally it was good, but I was so disappointed to see that goal go in,” revealed Cousins.

“I haven't conceded that many goals this season, for the reserves either, so that was a weird feeling.

“I thought the lad (Demetriou) was lucky to get his shot in, because the ball came back off Kem Izzet. His shot ended up in the far corner of the net.

“We didn't play well as a team. We had played Millwall off the park and lost 2-1, but we didn't really get going this time.

“I want a run in the team now, and hopefully I've done my chances no harm at all,” added Cousins.

Chelmsford-born Cousins had kept three clean-sheets in his three previous appearances this season, all 1-0 away wins in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy at Millwall, Gillingham and Bournemouth.

His only other senior outings had come the previous campaign, both from the substitutes' bench against Barnsley and at Bristol City. Dean Gerken was sent off in the first and was injured in the second.

Cousins admitted: “I was a little bit surprised to be picked for this game, although I had done pretty well in the three Trophy games.

“The gaffer doesn't name the team until an hour before kick-off, so you just have to be ready and prepared.

“I've had to be patient to get this chance, but then you have to be patient as a young goalkeeper. It's been a good experience to learn under the likes of Aidan (Davison) and Dean (Gerken).

“There's a friendly rivalry between me and Dean. We both came up through the youth team set-up and we usually travel together as well.

“The new manager (Paul Lambert) is very disciplined. Training is more enjoyable now. Perhaps we had become so used to George Williams (previous manager) that things had become a bit stale. It's all very high intensity,” added Cousins.

Lambert was delighted with the display of his keeper, but understandably disappointed with the overall team performance.

The Scotsman said: “I gave Mark Cousins a start in goal because I wanted to see what he could do. And he did terrific. He made some good saves. I'm very pleased with him.

“We didn't have the quality that we have shown in the other matches since I've been here. But we're not going to beat ourselves up about it. The lads have been terrific since I've been here and you can't play like they've been playing every week.

“There was plenty of effort, but just not the same quality. That's the first time I have had to say that as Colchester manager.”