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Knees-up Mother Brown #14
Written by wessex_exile on Sunday, 26th Nov 2023 14:31

The blog returns with [i]KMB14[/i], after another awayday last weekend and first visit for me to Edgeley Park to see the U’s pit their wits against the heir apparent champions Stockport County. Despite a stewarding fubar that I’ve probably mentioned more than enough already, it was a good day out overall, with the U’s more than a match for Stockport for most of the game, apart that is from a 90 second lapse in concentration either side of half-time. Certainly no disgrace though, and with the U’s getting straight back on the bike midweek with a comfortable 1-0 victory over League 1 Posh (albeit against largely their second string), I think we can look forward to this afternoon against promotion contenders Barrow with a degree of confidence.


[b]Get in there Brad![/b]

[b]The world outside U’s World[/b]
In the Middle East, it is heartening to see more hostages finally being released by Hamas (13 Israelis, ten Thais and one Filipino), with more expected over what amounts to a four day ceasefire. The interlude is also being used to get much needed humanitarian supplies into Gaza for what is left of the struggling civilian population. That the hostage release was brokered on the basis of 150 Palestinian prisoners in Israel being exchanged is galling – civilians shouldn’t be taken hostage under any circumstance – but for the families of hostages being released, I doubt they’ll care that much. Sadly though, not the beginning of the end as far as hostilities are concerned, with Israel confirming the bombardment of Hamas positions in Gaza will resume as soon as the ceasefire window has closed – and the civilian death toll will continue to rise.

Just my luck that my Edgeley Park absence coincided with Rishi Sunak sacking Suella Braverman, one of our more reprehensible Home Secretaries, certainly in recent years. Her frequent inflammatory, and at times downright racist rhetoric (during both her spells as Home Secretary) should have immediately disqualified her from holding office, but most commentators believe her Times article was the final straw for Sunak. In that, she accused the Met Police of bias in not banning a pro-Palestinian “Cease-Fire Now” protest march, whilst simultaneously describing the almost universally peaceful protestors as “[i]hate-marchers[/i]”, “[i]Islamists[/i]” and “[i]mobs[/i]”. The Prime Minister’s office apparently demanded various changes to the draft text, many though went unheeded. The resultant reshuffle, and you honestly couldn’t make this up, saw James Cleverly move from the Foreign Office into the Home Secretary role, with none other than David Cameron appointed as Foreign Secretary.

In other news, Derek Chauvin, the former police officer who murdered George Floyd, has been stabbed by another inmate in an Arizona jail, but is expected to make a full recovery. As most of you have noticed, winter seems to have finally arrived this morning, with overnight temperatures in rural areas dropping to -5C. Meteorologists are predicting many areas may well see snow over the next week or so. With the window for New York’s “look back” law closing next week, a flurry of accusations against mostly high profile men have been registered, including a second lawsuit against rapper Diddy Combs, accusing him of drugging and sexually assaulting a woman.

[b]U’s World[/b]
Following the U’s qualification through Round 1 of the Bristol Street Motors Trophy (seriously!?), we have been drawn against West Ham U21s in the second round. As has already been mentioned by others on The U’sual, although technically we are the away side, it has been agreed to host the match at the JobServe, rather than at West Ham’s Romford training ground where their U21s play home games. To be honest, given the number of West Ham supporters with CO postcodes, it’ll probably feel like a home game for them anyway.

Talking of U21s, teenage forward Oscar Thorn has gone out on loan to Bath City for the next month or so. Bath City are going well in the National League South, currently fourth behind Yeovil, Aveley and Maidstone. Many will remember that our very own Noah Chilvers had a spell at Bath on loan, and it didn’t do him any harm, so good luck Oscar, hope it works out for you!

Here’s something I haven’t seen before. With the CUFC Women’s game against Stone Ladies First called off by the visitors at the last moment, the U’s have been granted a “Home Walkover” and awarded the three points, to give them a 7-0-0 record at the top of the table. There’s only been one fixture since that decision at the end of October, with the ladies trouncing Corinthians Women First 11-0 in the League Cup preliminary round, with hat-tricks for Ella Cahill and Ruby Vinton. Their next match tomorrow is a visit to Billericay to take on Toby Ladies First in the BBC Essex FA County Cup. Toby Ladies play in the Essex County Women’s Premier League, so I imagine it’ll be a stern test for the U’s.

Joe Taylor returns to the U’s today, after playing the first 45 minutes of the Welsh U21 Euro qualifying match against Denmark. I haven’t found a detailed match report anywhere, but according to the BBC, following an early goal for Denmark “[i]…Joe Taylor went close for Wales[/i]”. Denmark scored a second in the last minute, before Wales grabbed a consolation in added time. The result sees Denmark overtake Wales at the top of Group I on goal difference (and with a game in hand).

Also slipping under the radar whilst I was away at Edgeley Park, Chay Cooper not only won our own October Goal of the Month competition with his strike against Harrogate, he can now add the Sky Bet October Goal of the Month trophy to his collection as well. I’ll admit, when I registered my vote for Chay I thought he was up against some pretty tough opposition, so am delighted that his was chosen as best of the lot.


[b]Well done Chay![/b]


[b]Always worth seeing again from a different angle[/b]

[b]Match of the Day
[i]Crawley Town v Colchester United
12th October 2019
Sky Bet League 2 (Tier 4)
Attendance 2,636[/i][/b]


[b]No programme for this one, but do still have the ticket[/b]

[i]Match of the Day[/i] for KMB14, and this is straight from the random memorabilia match selector, for which I can only apologise. We go back to just over four years ago, and the U’s visit to the Broadfield Stadium to face Crawley Town. What was interesting about this fixture was knowing that we’d already been drawn out of the hat to play at Crawley in the fourth round of the League Cup just over two weeks after this league game. An opportunity therefore for manager John McGreal to run the rule over the opposition and maybe get a few pointers for the cup game?

I travelled over on the train for this one, meeting up with a mate for what we hoped would be a classic awayday. Much of the online chat circled around how many tickets were we going to get for the forthcoming League Cup game, with rumours that Crawley might try and segregate the away end and only give us about 800 tickets. However, my bigger concern for this game was the ticket kiosk staff member, who was positively glacial in his approach to a positive work ethic. As a result, we missed the first five minutes of the match, but by it sounds of it not much action to speak of, other than former Colchester youngster Tarryn Allarakhia blazing wide of Gerken’s post after just two minutes.

Having won three of the last four league games, and drew the fourth, we were feeling fairly buoyant, with John McGreal’s lining up:
1….Dean Gerken
2….Ryan Jackson
21..Ryan Clampin
18..Tom Eastman
5….Luke Prosser (captain)
4….Tom Lapslie
12..Brendan Wiredu (24. Ben Stevenson 77’)
49..Kwame Poku
7….Courtney Senior (9. Luke Norris 81’)
45..Frank Nouble
13..Theo Robinson (10. Jevani Brown 70’)

There were a few enforced changes for the U’s. Paris Cowan-Hall and Harry Pell were both out injured, and Brandon Comley (Montserrat) and former Crawley player Luke Gambin (Malta) away on international duty. There were late fitness checks to consider as well, after Kwame Poku and Brendan Wiredu both went off injured in our previous EFL Trophy game against Spurs U21s, thankfully which both passed.

More importantly, this was also Colchester-born Tom Eastman’s 300th league appearance for the U’s.

For Crawley, managed by Gabriele Cioffi at the time, there weren’t too many names familiar to me at the time. However, with the benefit of hindsight the Red Devils squad that day included our very own Tom Dallison in defence, Beryly “Bez” Lubala up front, and someone we’d know more about 2+ weeks later, aging Danny Bulman on the bench.

Having missed Allarakhia’s effort, we took our place amongst over 400 U’s supporters to watch a first half comprising the U’s keeping possession well, but for the most part not really doing too much with it. This was becoming a disturbingly familiar trait of John McGreal sides in recent times, but as the half wore on, things did steadily improve.

Wiredu, who was showing well, sliced a half-chance wide from close range in the 26th minute, though from my vantage point at the far end, he seemed to do well even to get a foot to it, following an awkward deflection from Nouble’s effort on goal. A few minutes later Wiredu tore through the defence making a beeline for the goal, but his effort was deflected wide for a corner.

In fact, it was following a succession of corners for the U’s that we finally scored the opening goal. A peach of a cross was floated into the area by Kwame Poku, and there was Luke Prosser to delicately glance home for the U’s in the 35th minute. Although we looked the more likely to grab the next goal before the break, nothing really presented itself as a clear cut chance, and we went in at half-time holding a slender one goal lead.


[b]Three former U’s players in one photo[/b]

I think that was a pretty fair reflection of the game to be honest. Although we’d dominated possession, and restricted Crawley to only half-chances at best, it still wasn’t a particularly convincing performance.

The fragility of that lead was hammered home in the second half. It wasn’t like Reece Grego-Cox hadn’t given the U’s enough warnings, after heading wide from a Nathan Ferguson free-kick virtually straight from the restart, and then drawing a smart save from Gerken at his near post a few minutes later. But we didn’t listen, and despite a soft effort from Courtney Senior that keeper Glenn Morris saved easily, ten minutes into the second half Grego-Cox had equalised for the Red Devils with a thunderous rocket from the edge of the box that had Gerken beat as soon as he hit it.

Did this stir the U’s into action? Did it f’ck! If anything, we got worse. Second to everything, Crawley had a real spring in their step, and we had no idea how to deal with it. Crawley continued to press and the U’s just about continued to ride their luck. A deflected effort from Ashley Nathaniel-George caught Gerken flat-footed, and he could only watch with unbridled relief as it glanced off the post for a Crawley corner.

But, eventually, the pressure had to tell. With ten minutes to go, and just after McGreal had sent on Jevani Brown and Ben Stevenson to try and kick some life into a lacklustre U’s side, captain Lewis Young swung in a perfect cross from the right wing, and Mason Bloomfield powered his header into the net to give Crawley by then a deserved lead.

McGreal immediately bought on Chuck Norris for Courtney Senior to try and rescue a point, but as the clock ticked down, Crawley simply had too much of a control on the game by that point to allow the U’s any avenue back into the game. In reality, it was Crawley who came closest to getting another goal, when Bez Lubala tried a speculative long range strike that caught Gerken out, but thankfully came back off the face of the post – and that unfortunately was that.

[b]Crawley Town 2 (Grego-Cox 55’; Bloomfield 80’) Colchester United 1 (Prosser 35’)[/b]

We didn’t hang around too long after the final whistle, but long enough to see the team gather on the pitch for a post-match debrief about what had just happened. Luke Prosser said later “[i]The gaffer and Bally said their bit but it’s good for the lads to speak our minds as well. We just went outside and said what we thought and where we can be better - that’s good and healthy. We know where we went wrong and that was the frustrating thing[/i]”.

The result denied the U’s the opportunity to get into the play-offs, and defeat at home the following Saturday against Morecambe threatened to be the pivotal moment that our promotion campaign was going to flounder. But, the U’s dug deep, and a run of undefeated games post-Morecambe all the way through to the end of January laid the foundations for our post-lockdown play-off place at the end of the season.

Just over two weeks later 1,600 U’s supporters, myself included, returned to Broadfield Stadium for a bit of payback, with a trip to Old Trafford as our reward!

[b]Up the U’s![/b]




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Knees-up Mother Brown #18 by wessex_exile
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