Symons in race against time

COLCHESTER United caretaker boss, Kit Symons, believes that the U's are not far off being “a very good side.”But Symons does not have much time to turn results around, because chairman Robbie Cowling's three-week target to appoint a new manager is only a week away.

Carl Marston

COLCHESTER United caretaker boss, Kit Symons, believes that the U's are not far off being “a very good side.”

But Symons does not have much time to turn results around, because chairman Robbie Cowling's three-week target to appoint a new manager is only a week away.

The U's dazzled during Symons' first match in charge, in a thrilling 4-3 victory at Tranmere Rovers last Friday week, and they made new league leaders Leicester City fight every inch of the way in Tuesday night's 1-0 home reverse.

Yet to stand a good chance of landing the post full-time, Symons really needs to lead his team to victory over fellow strugglers Bristol Rovers this afternoon.

Next week, United have two away games at Gillingham (Johnstone's Paint Trophy) and Cheltenham Town (League One). Working to Mr Cowling's time-table, Symons' brief reign as caretaker manager would then be nearing its end.

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“I just have to get on with it. To get our first win at the new stadium would, I think, be a great step in the right direction,” insisted Symons. The U's have yet to win in four starts at the Community Stadium.

He continued: “I honestly feel that we are not far away from being a very good side, who can go on a very good run of results.

“You can't say that this game is a “must win game,” because it's too early in the season, but it could be a pivotal one both for the team and myself.

“The performance at Tranmere was fantastic, and we were also decent and solid against Leicester. But to get our first home win would be a great result, and a nice one for me.

“I'm in the same position as all other managers, because we are all judged by results, although I only have a very short period of time to get mine.

“We have three away games in succession after this weekend, but that's not necessarily a bad thing because we have done quite well away (three wins).

“But most of our fans watch the home matches, so we need to start winning at home. The fans were terrific for the Leicester game. They clapped the team off at half-time and full-time, even though we never quite got going into top gear,” added Symons.

Symons is just one of a host of candidates who are vying to become the permanent successor to Geraint Williams. Names already to have been linked with the U's job include Steve Cotterill, Billy Davies, Phil Parkinson, Steve Lomas, Martin Ling, Ian Holloway and Mark Kinsella.

U's chairman and owner Mr Cowling revealed: “The applications have been coming in thick and fast over the past couple of weeks. I will be sitting down and taking a good look at all of them over the weekend.

“I think two weeks is enough time for any potential candidate to put in his application.”

On the pitch, the U's welcome back club record signing Steven Gillespie following his three-match suspension for a red card at Crewe. The one absentee is injured left-back Matt Lockwood.

Rovers will be without right-back Ryan Green, who aggravated a hamstring injury during last weekend's goalless home draw against Crewe. Centre-half Steve Elliott faces a late fitness test after hobbling off with a dead leg during the first few minutes of that clash.

First-half substitutes David Pipe and Craig Hinton replaced Green and Elliott respectively against the Railwaymen, and they could both start against the U's.

Although they failed to beat Crewe, it was still a mini triumph for Paul Trollope's side, who chalked up their first clean-sheet in 15 games, stretching back to last April. Trollope changed the formation of his team by handing skipper Stuart Campbell a defensive role just in front of the back four.

The Pirates' only victory in 10 league and cup games to date was a 6-1 thrashing of bottom club Hereford United.

But they have notched some useful results on the road, with draws at Yeovil, Leeds and Brighton, and were pipped 5-4 in a thriller at Peterborough.

Squads

COLCHESTER UNITED: Gerken, White, Reid, Heath, Borrowdale, Yeates, Izzet, Perkins, Jackson, Platt, Gillespie, Hammond, Coyne, Elito, Vernon, Wordsworth, Wasiu. Cousins.

BRISTOL ROVERS: Phillips, Pipe, Coles, Hinton, Lescott, Lines, Campbell, Disley, Hughes, Duffy, Lambert, Kuffour, Hunt, Elliott, M Green, Jacobson.

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