By Pete Sixsmith
My negative vibes about this one began on the Friday afternoon.
After preaching confidence for weeks, really believing that we would not lose another game, I was hit by something on Friday and had a troubled night before getting up at 4.45am to catch the coach at 6.15.
I had been to Layer Road once before, to watch a reserve game one August afternoon when Durham’s game against Essex had been washed away.
Colchester were in League 2 then and on the verge of bankruptcy; they survived by selling Lua Lua to the Mags.
Even then it was the worst ground I had been on for ages and Saturday showed things have not changed.
It’s small, tight and not very welcoming. The toilet facilities for the visitors were not good (one WC for women; one WC and a two space urinal for men) and there was not much room on the six steps that made up the visitors’ terrace.
However we could moan all day about the facilities but that’s not what the game is about – it’s about performing on the pitch and boy did they – Colchester – perform.
* Poor quality but maybe that’s just as well…since it shows their penalty sealing our fate
This is not pretty football but nor is it the kick and rush so beloved of teams in the past who worked their way up the Leagues.
The players know what they are supposed to do. Each one has`a job and does it to the best of his ability. They play a tight game on a tight pitch, there are no luxuries like wingers and they give you no time whatsoever.
Keane, I think, realised this which was why he chose Murphy over Hysen and Wallace. But it didn’t work and that was because we had no real thrust and they stopped us.
Take nothing away from Colchester. They stand out as an example of what smaller clubs can do. Be organised, keep it tight and get the maximum out of your players.
It will be interesting to see how Scunthorpe do next year. And why shouldn’t Hartlepool emulate both?
Keane will now show us if he is worth his salary. This is a vital week for preparation. He has some tired players who have done magnificently but who now need to go that bit further.
Evans and Simpson have struggled a little recently and the forwards have stopped scoring. Burnley are in a comfort zone but Cotterill, Gray and Caldwell have points to prove. This will be an edgy week for fans; Roy needs to relax the players and convince them that the last two games are very winnable.
Keep the Faith.