Vernon aims to be spot-kick king

SCOTT Vernon wants to be the spot-kick king at Colchester this season, despite his strike-force partner Steven Gillespie taking a successful penalty on Saturday.

Derek Davis

SCOTT Vernon wants to be the spot-kick king at Colchester this season, despite his strike-force partner Steven Gillespie taking a successful penalty on Saturday.

If the U's earn a penalty at Gillingham this evening, in the first round of the Carling Cup, and Vernon is on the pitch, then he will want to take on the responsibility himself.

Vernon proved his potency from the spot in pre-season, by sweeping home a penalty in the historic first ever game at the Community Stadium against Athletic Bilbao.

That put him at the front of the queue for penalty duties, but he now faces competition from Gillespie following the ex-Cheltenham striker's 77th minute spot kick in the 4-2 defeat at Hartlepool.

“I'll be putting my name forward when we get another penalty,” confirmed Vernon.

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“I had just been substituted before we were awarded our penalty at Hartlepool. I felt it very frustrating to be sitting on the bench, having to watch from there rather than take it myself.

“Of course Steve (Gillespie) took the penalty well, so I guess if we're both on the pitch the we'll both be wanting to take any penalties.

“For me it was good to start the new season in the team, and I want to stay there with a string of good performances,” added Vernon.

Ex-Blackpool marksman Vernon knows the importance of the team putting Saturday's dismal display behind them, with an improved performance and a cup victory at League Two hosts Gillingham this evening.

“Just about everything went wrong at Hartlepool, we know that. We didn't start well enough, and we were made to pay, because starting a game well is a massive thing at this level,” continued Vernon.

“We were left chasing the game and we never looked like getting back into it. Our ball retention was poor and we needed to increase the work-rate. We were just not at the races.

“We desperately want a win at Gillingham. We need a result on Tuesday to put us in a positive frame of mind for next Saturday,” added Vernon. The U's entertain Huddersfield in the first competitive game at the Community Stadium next weekend.

Manager Geraint Williams looks set to make a few changes for this evening's cup tie at Priestfield. Kem Izzet, Matt Heath and Clive Platt were amongst the substitutes at Hartlepool, but they are all pushing for a start against the Gills.

Teenage winger Medy Elito, who travelled to the north-east without making the final 16-man squad, would also like to be involved, as would full-back Phil Ifil, who is returning to full fitness after a hernia problem.

Summer recruit David Perkins serves the third of a five-match suspension, while Pat Baldwin remains sidelined with his shoulder injury.

Squads

GILLINGHAM: Royce, Fuller, Nutter, King, Richards, Weston, Crofts, Bentley, Miller, Jackson, McCammon, Berry, Mulligan, Julian, Mills, Clohessy.

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

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