Following on from this afternoon’s Imps Rewind, here’s my take on the game immediately after back in 2018. It was my final game before my back operation, the last I saw of our play-off campaign. Great day, but was it a great match?
It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t entertaining and at times, it wasn’t looking like it would be enough to win the game. However, with just three games left of the season, the focus isn’t on the football now, it’s on the result.
I’ve seen comparisons drawn with Torquay and Gateshead last season and I’m inclined to refer to those matches myself. They were big games where the result mattered and the team who wanted it more ended up on the right side of it. Today, we ended up with three points through sheer determination, grit and a ‘refuse to lose’ attitude.
I’ll go through the game in a moment, but at one point this afternoon I stood watching on as we laboured to a 1-1 draw, a man down with Mansfield winning against Port Vale. I looked to the sky and for a brief second, I thought ‘this is it.’ It crossed my mind we’d battled bravely and finishing outside the top seven wasn’t the end of the world. What I’d forgotten was that Danny Cowley’s teams produce the goods when it matters and once again, they did just that.
The afternoon started inauspiciously enough, despite the size of the prize. Colchester perhaps had the best of the first ten minutes, but once they’d failed to get a lead they seemed content to play nice football but not do anything with it. They’ve got decent players and with a good summer of recruitment they’ll be a threat again, but for all their nice football, they weren’t getting much off at goal, certainly nothing meaningful.
We got ourselves into the game around the twenty-minute mark, but similarly, it wasn’t working for us. The first half was frustrating, watching Matt Green do the job of two or three players whilst someone pretending to be Harry Anderson toiled away on the flank. I’ve been a big fan of Harry ever since his first outing, but he’s in a real bad patch of form at present and he’s been ineffective. That said, he always looks one step away from producing something special, but today he got crowded out, again.
In the centre of the park, we showed lots of industry but no real panache. That middle three has yet to convince a lot of people and today I could see why. All three of those players, Freck, Alex and Elliott, are quality on their day, but today it wasn’t happening. Of the three I thought Alex Woodyard had the best game, he’s much the same every week again now. He’s no-frills, calm and strong with a tendency to get the ball backwards. That is part of our game plan and he does it superbly. The other two just weren’t getting the rub of the green. Freck’s taken a bit of a battering since he’s been back and I can see why to a degree. He’s not quite adopted our patterns yet, but he’s class and it will come.
It was a drab first half really, was it not? There wasn’t a lot to chat about and when people start streaming off for their half time drinks on 38 minutes you know it’s been a below-par half. It actually winds me up, having to stand to let people past constantly from 38 minutes onwards, why can’t people just wait until half time? With the clubs brilliant new initiative of having bars behind the Stacey West, queues are far fewer, so why spoil the last ten minutes for everyone else just to get a beer? Besides, we might have scored in those last few minutes, but the crowd noise dies down whilst everyone goes off to look after themselves. Do you not realise there’s a football match on?
I have to be a little critical of our set pieces of late too. All of our corners have been going over the top and getting nowhere, free kicks around the box had been largely wasted and I don’t get it. We’ve been a constant threat from those situations all season, but now with three or four games to go we’ve become a little wasteful.