Craig Priest writes….
With now ten games to go, the balloon of optimism is slowly deflating after yet another 1-1 draw at the One Call Stadium – but the real question is, who has undone the knot in the first place, does the blame lie with players, is it with the fella who legged in to Peterborough or is it in the hands of David Flitcroft.
There were a pocket after the game as I was leaving that felt it’s the latter – my tongue now has a polo-like hole in it from biting it so hard – how can you blame a man whose had what, ten days in charge?
No matter if it were Flitcroft, Dempster or any of the other names linked with the role – we’d still find ourselves in a whirlwind of bewilderment, the key is rallying together and trying to re-tie the knot and re-inflate.
There’s no shying away from the fact we were poor in the second half yesterday, as soon as the whistle blew to kick-off the second period we looked flat and lacked any energy or conviction – it’s that which dropped us two points, as our lack of flair and energy saw us slowly pulled back and allowed a bang average side a cheap way through.
Joel Byrom’s clearance was poor, but the blame isn’t just on him – why did nobody pick up the run or try and make a challenge? Why at the other end did we not create enough chances? Why were we so poor with the ball and so flat?
I’ve listened to Flitcrofts post-match and he too highlighted that first ten minutes of the second half, if we’d started with some zip and zest about our play we’d be talking about a different result here – and then if Zander hadn’t pulled up injured, we’d have used our third and final substitution to bring on a front man.
Some were saying we should have gone three at the back, but at that point Colchester were coming at us and looking like they had another goal in them, had we swapped Zander for Angol or Spencer, we’d have had one natural centre-half, brining Digby on was the right call – he won every header and worked hard to force passages of play which were never going to trouble us, we looked solid at the back when he came on and were so unlucky at the other end to not win the game, Digby’s height and physical presence looked a threat.
The game, like that Peterborough fella, has gone – we have ten games left to go we have a game in hand on Notts County in third PLUS them to play on Saturday, oh and the small matter of Accrington (1st) and Luton (2nd) to play over Easter – it’s not over, it’s just the long and hard way around!
With Rhys Bennett suspended, skipper Zander Diamond was back into the starting line-up whilst after scoring in midweek, Joel Byrom was introduced for Adam King as David Flitrcoft made two changes from the side which drew with Lincoln in the week.
The returning Stags skipper nearly gave his new boss a dream early start on six minutes, after Danny Rose had won a corner – Diamond steamed in to meet Byrom’s delivery, only to see the visitors hack the ball away from danger.
Six minutes later, Diamond’s defensive partner Pearce made a pivotal flick on to Heammings, who headed back across goal rather than thump an effort towards the net, as the Stags searched for their opener
Alex MacDonald then took the opportunity for a quick throw on twenty minutes which led to a corner through CJ Hamilton – the Stags failed to make it pay, but took a gamble two minutes later as Logan launched the ball long, finding Hemming’s who lofted the ball beyond the keeper to put the Stags into a 1-0 lead.
It should have been two just two minutes later as Byrom picked out Rose – the Stags leading marksman controlled well but couldn’t find the target on this occasion, denied by Sam Walker in the U’s goal.
Alex MacDonald then curled a free-kick from thirty yards wide of the target on 38 minutes as Rose was fouled, at the other end Conrad Logan had to be alert with three minutes to go, denying Drey Wright to send the Stags into the break one goal to the good.
On 50 minutes the Stags felt aggrieved as Logan launched long for Hamilton, he looked to have been fouled by Jackson who also appeared to have handled the ball, yet the referee awarded the visitors a free-kick.
A minute later, in a dase, the Stags conceded a soft equaliser Joel Byrom’s poor clearance saw Brandon Comley advance and place the ball into the back of the net.
A double change then saw Anderson and Byrom replaced by Atkinson and Mellis, before the Stags lost skipper Diamond on 65 minutes through injury – Paul Digby his replacement.
Digby nearly grabbed the Stags a second just four minutes after coming off the bench, his well-timed run saw him connect with MacDonald’s pin point cross – the substitute sent a header crashing against the bar.
With three minutes to go Walker pulled off a tremendous double save – first denying Benning’s top corner destined effort, before palming the rebound – a header from Mellis, away – his back line made sure it was clear, hacking off the line for a corner, from which Pearce thundered in, but headed over.
Six minutes of added on time followed, the Stags couldn’t find a winner and settled for a third consecutive 1-1 draw.
FULL TIME: Stags 1-1 Colchester Utd
Conrad Logan – Kyrstian Parce [CPT 65]– Zander Diamond © (Paul Digby 65) – Mal Benning
Paul Anderson (Will Atkinson 57) – Joel Byrom (Jacob Mellis 57) – Alex MacDonald – CJ Hamilton
Danny Rose – Kane Hemmings
Unused Substitutes: Bobby Olejnik, Lee Angol, Jimmy Spencer, Adam King
Referee: Ross Joyce Assistants: Alix Pashley, Chris Ward Fourth Official: Alf Greenwood
Attendance: 4,050 (163)
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