New boss giving players a chance
COLCHESTER United boss Aidy Boothroyd is not afraid to give all his players a chance, during the early weeks of his reign.Players that were out-of-favour, under his predecessor Paul Lambert, are suddenly walking around with a spring in their step.
COLCHESTER United boss Aidy Boothroyd is not afraid to give all his players a chance, during the early weeks of his reign.
Players that were out-of-favour, under his predecessor Paul Lambert, are suddenly walking around with a spring in their step.
And the result so far has been two draws from two tough away games, at Southampton and Swindon. It's very early days, but the future looks bright.
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John White, Matt Heath, Matt Lockwood, Jamie Guy and Phil Ifil might all have feared that they had played their last games for the U's, until the arrival of Boothroyd. Now they are very much a part of United's immediate future, as is Anthony Wordsworth, who was only a bit-part player under Lambert.
White and Heath, who were on loan at Southend until the end of August, both started at Swindon on Saturday, and both impressed in a four-man defence.
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Front-runner Guy made a surprise appearance as a substitute, after beginning this term on trial at Port Vale, while Lockwood and Ifil were both on the bench - they were a million miles away from playing under Lambert!
In fact, only six of the starting XI from the opening day 7-1 win at Norwich City were in the team at Swindon, a surprising statistic.
Injuries are taking their toll. Ashley Vincent joined the crocked list, after injuring his ankle while scoring the U's goal against Swindon. Paul Reid, Lee Beevers and Pat Baldwin are already on the sidelines, and Kem Izzet served the first of his three-match suspension.
But the U's are blessed with a big squad - probably the biggest in the club's history - and they will be difficult to beat this season.
Swindon were fresh from back-to-back wins over Southend and Yeovil, and were just ahead of the U's in the table. But they were second best in the early stages and fell behind on 21 minutes.
Vincent had the distinction of being the first U's player to score during Boothroyd's regime, following the goalless draw at Southampton and the Reserves' 0-0 draw at Ipswich in midweek.
Clive Platt, who led the front-line impressively, helped on Ben Williams' kick up field and Kevin Lisbie diverted the ball into Vincent's path. The ex-Cheltenham winger scooped his shot over stranded keeper Phil Smith, the ball rolling into an unguarded net.
Unfortunately, Vincent could not celebrate his second goal of the season. He was caught by Robins defender Kevin Amankwaah, and was stretchered off the pitch with a swollen ankle.
It was a deserved lead - Platt had so nearly broken the deadlock inside the first minute, when heading narrowly wide from Vincent's cross, and Smith had also done well to block another shot from Vincent.
Boothroyd chose to introduce Jamie Guy as a replacement for the injured Vincent down the right flank. Guy was substituted himself midway through the second period, though not before he had given a committed display in what was an unusual role for him. He was also denied a goal by a smart save from Smith just before the Swindon equaliser.
Swindon flooded the midfield - Alex Revell was their sole striker - so they had bags of possession. Williams beat away Jon-Paul McGovern's shot at his near post in the 39th minute, but he was powerless to prevent Temitope Obadeyi from netting in first-half stoppage time.
Ironically, the goal stemmed from a U's set piece. When the attack broke down, the Robins responded in devastating fashion with Ben Hutchinson running more than half the length of the pitch. An over-stretched defence was exploited as an unmarked Obadeyi buried a rasping shot from 15 yards out.
Only the woodwork denied the Wiltshire club the lead on 54 minutes. Revell let rip with a 30-yard shot that cannoned back off the bar, with a grateful Williams catching the rebound.
The U's remained on the back foot for most of the second period, without ever being seriously troubled, and they could have snatched all three points late on when Simon Hackney ballooned a shot over the bar and John-Joe O'Toole headed over.
A win would have been welcome, but a draw was the fair result.