Match Report: Colchester United 1-0 Lincoln City
It was a fairly trouble free drive down to Colchester's Weston Homes Community Stadium and easy parking (making for a fairly quick getaway later) as the three of us arrived at about 6:30 pm whereupon we bumped into the two Skeggy regulars. On our way in, we met Alan Long and had a little chat before making our way into the ground. The concourse had two food outlets and the balti pies had clearly been cooked in a proper oven and were very tasty! This was my first ever visit to Colchester and my opinion of the ground is not entirely positive. It is a very blustery place and with all four corners open to the elements, the cold wind did us no favours. I also thought that the four stands were far too similar in size, shape and build making for a soulless venue with little or no character at all. I do hope that if and when we do build a new ground, it will not be modelled on this one!
Danny Cowley made three changes to the starting line-up, one enforced being Billy Knott for the injured Michael Bostwick and then Elliott Whitehouse and Ollie Palmer coming in for the two Matts, Rhead and Green. We started kicking away from the North Stand which held a goodly following of Imps fans who had just started getting into voice when, with their first attack, Colchester scored a fairly simple goal after 2 minutes and 22 seconds! What a dreadful start and one reminiscent of former Imps sides as some pretty poor defending allowed Sammie Szmodics the time to plant the ball neatly into the bottom corner of City's net.
Nathan Arnold then broke free only to see his (fairly tame) shot claimed easily by home 'keeper Sam Walker. City never really looked like they were getting into gear and we appeared to be in for one of those drab first halves that we have recently been used to.
One day, we may get to see a whole game in the same fashion as the second half of the recent win at Crewe, but I can't see that coming any time soon. The 475 were, however, on their feet for the most part towards the end of the half when Harry Anderson drew a foul from the home defence in a very inviting spot outside the area. Arnold let fly with a screamer which, unfortunately, came back off the bar whereupon the onrushing Palmer just couldn't manage to bundle the ball over and the chance was gone.
Half-time: Colchester United 1 Lincoln City 0
During the break, we speculated as to what team would come out for the second period and we really hoped that it would be more like the Crewe game than the Coventry one. The two Matts replaced the ineffectual Billy Knott and Palmer and, with Anderson getting more of the ball at last, City looked to find at least an equaliser. Some good defending by the U's and some poor finishing from the Imps meant that such a goal remained elusive. A Neil Eardley corner should have been headed home by Sean Raggett but instead he aimed his effort straight at Walker; last season, that would have been a goal. Anderson continued to make some impressive runs into the box but no City player could get on the end of his quality crosses. Colchester didn't really do a great deal in the second half, and Vickers was hardly troubled but when he was called upon, he was there to keep the score down to 1-0.
It is clear that we are not creating many chances in games, and this is my biggest concern. At least our next opponents were softened up a bit by Mansfield who won comfortably 0-4 at Port Vale. Let's hope we find our scoring boots again by Saturday. In all honesty, Danny Cowley's post-match report pretty well summed up how many of us were feeling; far too many of the current team may quite simply not be up to League 2. Certainly off colour on Tuesday were Alex Woodyard, Billy Knott, Nathan Arnold, Sean Raggett, Rob Dickie and Ollie Palmer. Second-half subs Rhead and Green improved matters slightly but without any real threat. Cameron Stewart looked OK and put in a couple of good corners, but he needs quality time on the pitch.
Did we miss Bostwick? Yes, I believe we did even though Whitehouse was one of the few to come out the game with any credit. Will January see an increase in squad numbers? I certainly hope so. I also suspect that one or two may be shipped out, too. I wonder what kind of second half of the season we'll get; I trust we'll get a good run going and still aim for the play-offs.
Final score: Colchester United 1 Lincoln City 0
Thank you to Graham Burrell and Lincoln City FC for the photographs.