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Matches of Yesteryear - U's v Macclesfield 4/4/92
at 14:31 28 Mar 2020

Good afternoon everyone, I sincerely hope you are all doing well? Today would have been a vital home match against Mansfield, struggling at the wrong end of the league this time after a couple of seasons flattering to deceive at the sharp end. Since the last blog, we now know that all football below the National League is cancelled, and the season expunged from records. A tough break for the likes of Jersey Bulls in the Combined Counties League Division 1, who had won all of their 27 matches and already promoted, but then these are very strange times indeed. I sincerely hope the EFL season can be completed somehow, but I’m increasingly pessimistic about whether it will be.

Colchester United v Macclesfield Town
Saturday 4th April 1992
FA Trophy (Semi-Final 1st leg)
Attendance 5,443

Match #51 of the series, and we return to happier times, albeit given the U’s under Big Roy McDonough were in their second consecutive season playing in the Conference. As well as riding high in the league, we were doing pretty well in the FA Trophy as well, and for this match faced Macclesfield Town in the first leg of the semi-final, and just two games away from what would be a first trip to Wembley. This was our second season attempting success in this competition, the previous finishing somewhat ignobly with a 2-0 home defeat to Witton Albion in the quarter-final.

Cup fever was gripping the town, and with Wembley in our sights, the programme featured a rousing article about our famous 1947/48 FA Cup run. Back then, we were the first non-league side to reach the 5th round of the FA Cup, and the programme recalled that moment by reproducing a number of cartoons from that time that had featured in the national press. Though a few teams have since equalled our record, it would take until 2017 before Lincoln City finally went one further and reached the quarter-finals.

I drove over for this game on my own (my partner was pregnant at the time with my first child), and after lunch at Mum’s headed over to the game with my brother-in-law. It was a long time ago, and although I remember the occasion extremely well, the precise details of the match are rather more hazy – though fortunately there are plenty of bits of reference material about to help. I certainly do remember it was a bright dry day, a very boisterous Drury was packed out before the match, as was Layer Rd when we finally got in, with nearly 5,500 jammed in (our biggest home crowd of the season at the time). Layer Rd was so packed out in fact that the kick-off was delayed by ten minutes to try and get everyone in. As well as a programme, I’m not 100% certain but this might have been the first time I also bought a Colchester United fanzine (“Out Of The Blue” – Issue 9) – it’s certainly the earliest U’s fanzine I still have, that’s for sure.

We had opened our 1991/92 Conference campaign back in August ’91 with a home game against Macclesfield, which the U’s had won 2-0. Going into this match we were of course top of the Conference, but as we know, with Wycombe breathing hard down our necks – and to say it was already a two-horse race was a bit of an understatement. I think, at the time, Redbridge in 3rd place were something like 20 points behind the U’s? Macclesfield were having an indifferent season, floating around mid-table, with no real likelihood of relegation, and certainly no chance whatsoever of going anywhere in the opposite direction.

Remarkably, as it rarely seems to happen, the U’s lined up exactly as listed on the back of the programme:

1….Scott Barrett
2….Warren Donald
3….Paul Roberts
4….Mark Kinsella
5….Tony English
6….Dave Martin
7….Jason Cook (Eamonn Collins 75’)
8….Ian Stewart (Garry Bennett 70’)
9….Roy McDonough
10..Steve McGavin
11..Nicky Smith

Managed by long-standing manager Peter Wragg, and without any disrespect to Macclesfield Town, none of their team that day stand out to me as notable names. A handful had football league experience, including goalkeeper Mike Farrelly (at PNE) and Mark Dempsey (Man U apprentice, and played with Sheffield United, Rotherham, Swindon and Chesterfield), but the Silkmen were widely considered as no slouches in non-league football. If nothing else, they knew their way around this cup competition, winning the inaugural 1970 Wembley final 2-0 over Telford United in front of over 28,000. They’d been there more recently too, just three years earlier, and again against Telford, though they lost that one 1-0. In the Conference, they were also known for their well-marshalled defence, with only the U’s and Wycombe conceding fewer goals at the time of this match.

Despite Macclesfield’s non-league pedigree and robust defence, no one was really expecting anything other than a U’s victory, and probably a comfortable one at that (bookies were already listing us as 5-4 on favourites to win the trophy). However, there is such a thing as complacency, and early on Macclesfield reminded us of that, when Askey should have done better from inside the penalty area than shoot straight at Scott Barrett. For the opening twenty minutes or so, it was a fairly even competition, neither side really carving out clear-cut chances.

Then, on 23 minutes that all changed – Dave Martin passed a free-kick to Ian Stewart, who tried to then feed it on to McGavin in a threating position. However, the ball struck the referee, rebounded perfectly back to Stewart, who delightfully took this huge slice of good fortune and drilled it past a wrong-footed Farrelly in the Macclesfield goal. Layer Road erupted, and the roars were still echoing around the ground when less than two minutes later it was 2-0. Another somewhat fortuitous goal, Tony English and Big Roy played a clever one-two, after a foul on McGavin was played on for advantage, with Tony’s shot deflecting off defender Hanlon and into the back of the net. We were now in uproar, everyone expecting the U’s goal-machine would just roll on and absolute demolish Macclesfield. However, they were made of sterner stuff that day, and not only managed to stifle our attacking threat, but actually get themselves back in the game.

In the early stages of the second half, with still no more goals, it was actually Macclesfield who came closest to scoring next. Askey almost atoned for his miss in the first half, intercepting an under hit back pass to Barrett, but Scott did well to race out and spread himself to prevent a goal. For Macclesfield, worse was to come not long after, with Askey this time turning provider, lifting a beautifully weighted cross over Barrett for what looked like an easy tap-in for Andy Green – but he somehow contrived to let the ball slide under his foot and the opportunity was lost.

By now, we were getting really nervous, jittery even. A 2-0 victory in the first leg would be okay, but not insurmountable, and a 2-1 home victory (or worse) could be a disaster. However, cometh the hour, cometh the man, and three minutes later we were all breathing a bit easier. With a long-throw aimed at him, I’d say McDonough made a bit more of a meal of the pressure from his marker Edwards than was really there, but it worked and the referee pointed to the spot. Who else but Roy McDonough to step up – he’d earned the penalty, he was taking it, and sending Farrelly the wrong way, hammered it into the corner of the goal.

Wembley here we come! (© EADT)

From then to the end of the match the noise was deafening, the sense of relief was palpable, surely we’d done enough now to book our first visit to Wembley! Big Roy dabbled in a bit of game management, replacing Stewart with Gary Bennett straight after his goal, and then five minutes later bringing on Eamonn Collins for Jason Cook, and we held on for a comfortable 3-0 first leg lead. According to Graeson’s ColUData website ( this would turn out to be Eamonn’s last appearance in a U’s shirt.

Colchester United 3 (Ian Stewart 23’, Tony English 25’, Roy McDonough 70’) Macclesfield Town 0

Spoiler Alert: We had done enough, and as I couldn’t join the army of 800 U’s fans making the long trip to Moss Rose for the second leg the following Friday night, and it won’t therefore feature in this series, I’m happy to report the U’s drew 1-1. It was nervy mind, with Macclesfield taking the lead early on, but Jason Cook levelled the scores in first half injury-time, and the U’s comfortably kept out a deflated Macclesfield in the second half.

Incidentally, the second leg should have been played on the Saturday afternoon (and I should have been there), but it was bought forward to avoid clashing with Chester City’s home game against Birmingham. Yep, you read that right, back then Chester City were in the old Third Division, alongside teams like Birmingham, West Brom, Huddersfield and Fulham.

From Issue 9 of “Out Of The Blue”, and for a bit of fun, there’s a crossword on pages 4-5 that’ll have you scratching your heads – it probably would have been fairly easy back then, but a completely different kettle of fish 28 years later – good luck brainiacs! (you might have to zoom in a bit though)

Up the U’s
Latest statement from Robbie...
at 19:19 23 Mar 2020

...for those that haven't seen it.

All seems eminently sensible, provided we actually get any choice in the matter that is.
Matches of Yesteryear - Wycombe v U's 6/3/99
at 14:44 21 Mar 2020

Here we are again, so greetings to all you social distancers and self-isolationists, I sincerely hope you are all well. This would have been our third fixture since the suspension of all football in the UK, and with more and more measures being implemented by the government to minimise social gatherings, including extending the football league break until at least the end of April, one wonders whether we’ll ever finish this season? There have been numerous measures announced, including £50m from the EFL, to minimise the financial burden on us smaller clubs, but Robbie Cowling has gone on record stating that “…to really survive and go forward there is going to be help needed from the Premier League or elsewhere” – quite right Robbie.
Matches of Yesteryear - Wycombe v U's 6/3/99
at 14:43 21 Mar 2020

Here we are again, so greetings to all you social distancers and self-isolationists, I sincerely hope you are all well. This would have been our third fixture since the suspension of all football in the UK, and with more and more measures being implemented by the government to minimise social gatherings, including extending the football league break until at least the end of April, one wonders whether we’ll ever finish this season? There have been numerous measures announced, including £50m from the EFL, to minimise the financial burden on us smaller clubs, but Robbie Cowling has gone on record stating that “…to really survive and go forward there is going to be help needed from the Premier League or elsewhere” – quite right Robbie.

Wycombe Wanderers v Colchester United
Saturday 6th March 1999
Nationwide League Division 2 (Tier 3)
Attendance 4,670

A notable milestone reached, Match #50 of the Matches of Yesteryear series, and again a match from the 1998/99 season has been randomly selected, and what a humdinger it was. The U’s travelled to Adams Park for our first visit since crushing them 5-2 back in 1993. That earlier match was notable in particular as it was the first football league defeat suffered by the Chairboys – quite appropriate really that we had the honour of inflicting it. The U’s, under Mick Wadsworth, were on quite a decent run at the time of this latest visit to Adams Park, six games unbeaten, and although only two of those had been victories, we were beginning to consolidate our position safe in mid-table. Wycombe were having a much tougher campaign, and after a dreadful January (losing all five matches in a row) and only a marginally better February, they were second bottom and 6pts from safety.

I travelled over on the train for this game, to join a sizeable turnout from Essex for the match. I’m not sure how many of the faithful had turned up, but it must have been at least 7-800 I reckon. Pre-match beers were taken at a very noisy and dissolute White Horse, followed by the customary police escort to the ground. Back then, these fixtures really did still have an edge, and there were some gnarly faces in the crowd that day that I’d rarely see at most matches – and the atmosphere inside the ground was volatile to say the least. This is yet another match for which I also have a ticket stub, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t an all-ticket match.

As a result of their dreadful run of results in January, Lawrie Sanchez had taken over as manager of Wycombe Wanderers in February, following the sacking of Neil Smillie with the Chairboys looking destined for relegation. Sanchez’s brief was simple, avoid relegation at all costs, and a win and a draw from his first four matches had at least stopped the rot. Mind you, Mick Wadsworth only joined the U’s a few days earlier than Sanchez took up his position – replacing Steve Wignall at the end of January – so this was very much two new managers finding their feet at new clubs. Wadsworth had wasted no time bringing in new faces, signing Stéphane Pounewatchy from Port Vale, as well as loanees Warren Aspinall and Bradley Allen (from Brentford and Charlton Athletic respectively).

All three featured for this game, as the U’s lined up:

1….Carl Emberson
2….Joe Dunne
3….Warren Aspinall
4….Geraint Williams
5….Simon Betts
6….Aaron Skelton
7….Stéphane Pounewatchy
8….David Gregory
9….Bradley Allen
10..Neil Gregory
11..Jason Dozzell

The match itself was very much a Jekyll and Hyde performance for the U’s. For the first half hour or so we were awesome, all over a Wycombe side who looked like a team bereft of confidence, and doomed to relegation. Just three minutes in, Neil Gregory blasts home an exquisite pass from Bradley Allen to put the U’s ahead 1-0, the faithful invade the pitch celebrating, only for referee Fraser Stretton to rule it out for a highly questionable offside. Pounewatchy in particular was proving to be a huge handful, and on 18 minutes was there to flick on a pinpoint corner from Aspinall to allow Dozzell to power home a header past the onrushing Taylor in the Wycombe goal. This time it really was 1-0, and the travelling blue and white army behind the goal were going absolutely mental. Three minutes later, and it should have been 2-0 as Bradley Allen scored for the U’s, only for this one to also be ruled out for a questionable handball.

We were rampant, and surely it was only a matter of time before more goals came. However, Sanchez had started to instil some steel in his relegation-haunted squad, and slowly they started to get back in the game. On 25 minutes Emberson pulled off a world class reflex save to deny a point-blank header from Scott, and five minutes later kept out a fierce shot from the same player. With five minutes to half-time, Wycombe should have equalised, but Simon Betts pulled off an excellent goal-line clearance from a powerful Keith Ryan header, and thought they had equalised when Baird turned the ball in from six yards – but this too was quickly ruled out for offside – much to our amusement behind the goal. However, amused we may have been, but by half-time it was clear we were actually hanging on now, despite our total dominance from the start.

The second half saw a significant shift in Wycombe’s tactics, deciding they’d resort more on some proper route one stuff, and it was sadly working. There was no doubt about it now, we were under the cosh and desperately holding on, with Scott flashing a free header wide of the goal early on when it looked easier to score. On 57 minutes our defiant rear-guard action was finally breached. A speculative goal-bound effort from McSporran hit the back of Joe Dunne and fortuitously rebounded into the path of Baird, who gratefully tucked in the rebound past a stranded Emberson. A harsh way to concede, but it had definitely been coming. On 75 minutes Wycombe went one better, when a decent free-kick from Carroll was headed home by Scott in the six yard box, to give Wycombe what by then was a deserved 2-1 lead.

Finally, stung into action by going behind, the U’s decided to grow a pair and actually compete in a game they should have been comfortably winning at one point. For the last 15 minutes this turned into a real blood and thunder battle, with the U’s going close to equalising, and Wycombe still clearly capable of getting another. The contest was exemplified by Aaron Skelton, going down with an ankle injury on 80 minutes when keenly contesting a 50:50 ball…and he stayed down too, for a long time, before eventually being stretchered off. As we approached 90 minutes, the U’s were now fully in control, with Wycombe happy to waste as much time as possible to try and just hold on to three vital points. Then the board went up – 7 minutes of injury-time to come, which was greeted by a deafening roar from the away end.

And still the U’s surged forward, wave after wave crashing against a resilient defence – Abrahams blasted one across the face of goal, David Gregory sent a header agonisingly wide, but time was running out. In the 8th minute of our seven minutes of injury-time (yes, Wycombe’s time-wasting had been that apparent that even corpulent Fraser Stretton couldn’t ignore it), Wycombe forced an unlikely corner, and the match looked over. With the U’s faithful breathing down their necks almost within arms reach, Wycombe decided to try to keep the ball in the corner, but the U’s were having none of it, and after a few hefty challenges went flying in, Buckle managed to dislodge the ball and send it flying up the pitch to Aspinall, who’s slide rule pass fell beautifully into the path of Neil Gregory. Gregory just ran and ran towards the Wycombe goal, Taylor came headlong out to meet him, and ended up taking Neil out in the penalty area for a clear spot-kick (and a yellow card for his troubles). Up stepped brother David, who gleefully dispatched the penalty in the 9th minute of injury-time to send us into raptures. The sight of David Gregory running back the length of the Wycombe main stand with his finger to his lips will stay with me forever!

The whistle was blown as soon as Wycombe restarted, and the U’s had snatched a draw from what had looked like certain defeat.

Wycombe Wanderers 2 (Andy Baird 57’, Keith Scott 75’) Colchester United 2 (Jason Dozzell 18’, David Gregory 90+9’p)

What a day it had been, and the fun wasn’t over then either. Initially held back inside the ground, a large group of U’s fans tried to force the locked gate open, causing quite a bit of damage in the process. When we finally got out, everyone bound for the station was herded on to shuttle buses, there was no option to walk back permitted. Probably just as well, because it was certainly a volatile atmosphere that afternoon. The police were their usual charmless self, and that day had probably underestimated the mood of the U’s fans, which resulted in a lot of confrontation, not least when the police were told to ‘do one’ when trying to get us actually off the shuttle buses.

Eventually things calmed down, and we all headed off on our various journeys home. As I’ve already covered in previous blogs for this season, we did avoid relegation, but it ended up being closer than we thought it might be back then in March. Although they dropped two points here, under Lawrie Sanchez Wycombe went on to have a very good final two months of the season, and escaped relegation on the very last day beating Lincoln City 1-0.

Up the U’s
Matches of Yesteryear - U's v Bournemouth 27/4/99
at 19:50 17 Mar 2020

Tonight would have been our home fixture against table-toppers Crewe, and a chance to avenge the draw at Gresty Rd which really should have been a victory. However, what’s really interesting about it for me is that myself and probably a considerable number of you out there would have been watching it on i-Follow – exactly what our chairman suggested should have been the first option the EFL considered before deciding to postpone league fixtures. Ho hum, wonder how we would have got on…
Matches of Yesteryear - U's v Bournemouth 27/4/99
at 19:49 17 Mar 2020

Tonight would have been our home fixture against table-toppers Crewe, and a chance to avenge the draw at Gresty Rd which really should have been a victory. However, what’s really interesting about it for me is that myself and probably a considerable number of you out there would have been watching it on i-Follow – exactly what our chairman suggested should have been the first option the EFL considered before deciding to postpone league fixtures. Ho hum, wonder how we would have got on…

Colchester United v AFC Bournemouth
Tuesday 27th April 1999
Nationwide League Division 2 (Tier 3)
Attendance 4,168

Match #49 of the Matches of Yesteryear series, and we go back again to the 1998/99 season, which from my memorabilia collection alone features 12 times, including an England U21 game at the Dell, a copy of the Blue Eagle, and Salisbury City playing in the 1st round of the FA Cup. Three of those 12 have already featured in the series (#12, #31 and #44), with Match #44 our spirited 3-3 draw at Sixfields in the battle to avoid relegation back to the basement. Match #49 is our very next fixture, on the following Tuesday night at home to promotion contenders AFC Bournemouth.

Some of you will recall this was actually a rearranged fixture, following an eventful match that was called off at half-time by referee Lee Cable back in October. I wasn’t there for that match, but I will share with you the wise words of Mr Jon Burns on that event from his CUSA News article in the programme – “There is much more than a touch of ‘deja-vu’ about tonight’s game. Cast your minds back to Saturday 24th October – the pitch was a bit damp, the U’s ‘stormed’ to a 3-1 half time lead, the stewards were wearing their invisible jackets, the ref had a change of heart and we walked home bathed in sunshine thinking of the loss of three potential points”.

The early months of 1999 provided to be quite a feast of football for me, from Saturday 30th January through to this match, I’d managed to get to eight games in less than three months; I was at Gillingham (a) but it isn’t in the collection, and I’m not counting the Man City pay per view. I know, a mere bagatelle compared to some of you regulars – but not bad from a base down here in the South West. Midweek games in Colchester have always been problematic because of work commitments the next day, but in this regard I was fortunate, as I had a couple of teams working on HS1 at the time. Easy then to arrange my diary to allow a slightly early finish on the Tuesday afternoon to leave time to get over to Essex, and then take the relatively short trip over to Kent in the morning to catch up with our site teams. Dinner and a beer were on the table as soon as got to my Mum’s, and within fifteen minutes I’d been collected by my brother-in-law and his son (my nephew), and we were off to Layer Rd.

Parking up on Capel Rd, we walked to The Drury for a couple more beers before the match. There was a sizeable following from Bournemouth that evening, not bad considering it was a long trip for a midweek match, but they were a good natured and friendly lot, and we found ourselves sat in the beer garden of the Drury happily chatting away with a group of them (and their inflatables). Whilst our focus was very much looking over our shoulder, the Cherries were clinging on to the final play-off spot going into this game, though Wigan, with three games in hand, were breathing down their necks. Bidding our companions farewell and best wishes for the remainder of the season (after tonight obviously), we headed into the ground and took up our seats in Block I of the Clock End McDonalds Family Enclosure. Always a pleasant surprise, I discovered my ticket stub – purchased by my brother-in-law in advance – inside the programme when writing this blog.

AFC Bournemouth, managed at the time by Mel Machin, were a class act with a well-deserved reputation for playing football the right way. This was helped immensely by a host of talented footballers, and their line-up that night included Mark Ovendale in goal, Eddie Howe, James Hayter, Willie Huck (signed from Arsenal for £50k on transfer-deadline day), Ian Cox, Mark Stein and Steve Fletcher. There were quite a few changes from the U’s playing squad on the back of the programme, and with Lua Lua serving the second match of his three-match red card suspension, so it’s going to be easier just to list our starting XI line-up:

1….Tamer Fernandes
2….Fabrice Richard
3….Stephane Pounewatchy
4….Simon Betts (Scott Stamps 59’)
5….David Greene
6….Paul Buckle (Tony Lock 59’)
7….Richard Wilkins
8….David Gregory
9….Jason Dozzell
10..Warren Aspinall
11..Karl Duguid (Steve Germain 81’)

Going into the match, our 3-3 draw at Northampton on the Saturday had left us on 49pts – not quite mathematically safe, one more victory would surely do that. Fortunately, our recent home form had helped immensely in that campaign to avoid relegation, and since the pay per view defeat to Man City, we’d won all three subsequent matches on the bounce against Preston North End, Walsall and Notts County. This was no mean feat, Preston North End were top of the play-off zone in 3rd, and Walsall in 2nd place for automatic promotion. There was a real buzz going around Layer Rd as a result, and helped by a fairly noisy away end and typically boisterous Barside, a cracking atmosphere that night – was there anywhere better than an evening game at a packed-out noisy Layer Rd!

Right from the outset the quality of Bournemouth was evident, it was looking like it would be a long night of struggle, and likely some considerable fortune too, if we were going to finally get the victory that Lee Cable had denied us back in October. Remarkably, on 11 minutes that fortune arrived – a long punted clearance from Fernandes sailed into the Cherries half, seemingly harmlessly too. Ovendale came out to claim it, Hayter got in a bit of a muddle and also went for it, only managing to head it over his advancing keeper and into the unguarded net – Layer Rd erupted!

Bournemouth were going through a bit of a lean spell as far as goal-scoring was concerned, it had been over six hours since their last one, and they were clearly determined to fix that. The U’s were under immense pressure right from the restart. On 15 minutes, a last-ditch tackle from Greene prevented Stein from scoring, and a few minutes later Huck left Fabrice Richard chasing shadows on the left flank but dragged his shot wide when clean through. Dozzell had seen a rare effort for the U’s blocked, but then with Fernandes beaten Wilkins had to clear a Stein header off his own line, and then Fernandes, diving the wrong way, fortuitously managed to keep out an Eddie Howe header with his legs.

In the 34th minute the U’s finally cracked – albeit in bizarre circumstances. A succession of corners for Bournemouth left the U’s penned in their own box, and for the fifth of these Huck drilled in a fierce corner which the defence failed to deal with. Fernandes saw it late and could only palm it into the back of David Greene, who could do nothing but agonisingly watch it rebound into the goal. Okay, Bournemouth more than deserved a goal, but what a sickening way to concede it. Half-time arrived with no further goals, though still plenty more pressure from Bournemouth, leaving most of us wondering whether we could hold on, and if we did, would 50pts be enough?

It’s worth emphasising the support that night – throughout a first half of almost constant pressure the Barside had been immense, never letting up, and at times with the whole of Layer Rd joining in. Always under the cosh, but never giving up hope, it really did seem to spur the U’s on, and we came out for the second half all guns blazing – and nearly restored our lead almost immediately, with a powerful Greene header going inches wide. That wasn’t to mean the tide had turned, it most definitely hadn’t, not helped by Betts nearly scored the third own goal of the night with a misplaced back-pass that eluded both Fernandes and fortunately his post. Despite the continuing pressure, the U’s were slowly getting back into the game as an attacking force. On 67 minutes, and a moment that he probably won’t look back on fondly, Ovendale rushed recklessly off his line to claim a cross from Doogie, only to miss it completely, and allowing Dozzell waiting at the back post to head into the empty net – if you think the noise levels were elevated before, you should have heard the roar from that!

Back came Bournemouth though, Fernandes pulling off a stunning save from a point-blank Stein header, Howe had a goal disallowed for a foul on Pounewatchy, and Cox hit the post. However, if anyone should have scored another, it really should have been Warren Aspinall – forcing an excellent save from Ovendale after seizing on a blocked clearance. Finally, eventually, Cable blew full-time on a match that we should have won back in October. We’d reached the magical 52pts mark, surely now the U’s were safe from relegation – the celebrations that night were something to behold.

Colchester United 2 (James Hayter 11’og, Jason Dozzell 67’) AFC Bournemouth 1 (David Greene 34’og)

It turns out we were safe, fortunately, because we lost our final two games of the season against Lincoln City at home (who were already relegated) and Blackpool away on the final day of the season. Bournemouth rallied, winning their next at York City, but a disappointing 0-0 home draw against Wrexham on the last day of the season left them level on 76pts with Wigan, but outside the play-offs on goals scored (back then, positions were decided on goals scored, not goal difference).

Anyway, as we’re twiddling our thumbs right now waiting for the season to restart, have a go at Rob Hadgraft’s quiz in the programme – I don’t have the answers btw, they’re not in the programme, so good luck!

Up the U’s
Matches of Yesteryear - U's v Yeovil 15/8/09
at 15:04 14 Mar 2020

…and so we enter the start of the coronavirus-enforced football league postponement period for 2019/20. As things stand, we will emerge on 4th April away at Bradford City, with nine fixtures (some teams, including Swindon, Crewe and FGR have ten) still to complete over the following 21 days, though I’m sure the end of the season could be extended if needs be. Whether we do restart on 4th April only time will tell.
Matches of Yesteryear - U's v Yeovil 15/8/09
at 15:01 14 Mar 2020

…and so we enter the start of the coronavirus-enforced football league postponement period for 2019/20. As things stand, we will emerge on 4th April away at Bradford City, with nine fixtures (some teams, including Swindon, Crewe and FGR have ten) still to complete over the following 21 days, though I’m sure the end of the season could be extended if needs be. Whether we do restart on 4th April only time will tell.

Colchester United v Yeovil Town
Saturday 15th August 2009
Coca-Cola League 1 (Tier 3)
Attendance 4,263

Match #48 of the Matches of Yesteryear series, and like Match #47, it is again another of my birthday football trips, for the U’s at home to Yeovil Town. I’ve mentioned previously that I always try and get to the first match of a season and/or certainly at or close to my birthday (sometimes they’ve coincided). Regrettably (for me) this wasn’t the case in 2009, with family commitments making it impossible to be at Carrow Road for what turned out to be one of the most memorable opening fixtures in not only our history, but potentially in the history of English football. A bold claim perhaps, but the U’s 7-1 demolition of Norwich City, tipped as favourites for an immediate return to the Championship following their relegation the previous season, certainly send shockwaves throughout football. Not surprisingly, the matchday programme for this game featured that historic victory in considerable detail.

2009/10 was the start of Paul Lambert’s first full season in charge of the U’s, taking over from departing manager Geraint Williams (following a brief caretaker spell under Kit Symons). Lambert had certainly steadied the U’s form, and we spent much of that season around about mid-table, briefly even challenging the play-off positions in January. In the close season, a spotlight was focused on Lambert’s ‘style’ of management, with a host of players released, sold, or worse still consigned to training with the youth team and denied even a squad number (or a place on the team photo shoot). The latter included Jamie Guy, Matt Heath, Philip Ifil, Johnnie Jackson, Matt Lockwood and John White.

I had been on school holiday annual leave with the kids the week before, which had included a mid-week trip over to Essex to see Mum and the rest of the family, so with my parental duty account in credit, I was afforded a pass to travel over for this game on the train. An uneventful journey as I recall, which included a couple of beers in the sunshine of the Bricklayer’s beer garden, before taking up a spot at the back of the South stand. I can’t find a YouTube highlight video of the game itself, but I have tracked down a very shaky video of the teams emerging before kick-off, and from the angle of the view, I don’t think I could have been very far from the vantage point.

One of the Carrow Road heroes from the week before, Clive Platt, had picked up a straight red during our mid-week defeat to Leyton Orient (managed by Geraint Williams) in the Carling Cup, so for the Yeovil match the U’s lined up:
1….Ben Williams
3….Lee Beevers
4….Magnus Okuonghae
5….Pat Baldwin
23..Marc Tierney
8….Dean Hammond (c)
11..Simon Hackney (David Perkins 85’)
14..David Fox
29..Scott Vernon
7….Ashley Vincent
20..Kevin Lisbie (Kemi Izzet 71’)

For the Glovers, they were managed at the time by Terry Skiverton. Skiverton had been appointed, technically as a player-manager in February, and by the end of that season had kept them away from the relegation zone. We have played Yeovil Town (and indeed in their previous incarnations as just Yeovil, and even Yeovil and Petters United) numerous times, particularly during our Southern League years. In the league, this wasn’t our first encounter since that memorable 0-0 draw at Huish Park back in May 2006, we had played them the previous season, doing the double in the process too. In fact, outside of non-league we were quite a bogey team for the Glovers, at the time their solitary victory since our first senior level encounter in December 1958 being that infamous 5-1 FA Cup victory in 2000.

Not surprisingly, the U’s were sat top of the table on goal difference ahead of this match, and buoyed by that excellent victory at Norwich, there was a fairly decent crowd at the (then) Weston Homes Community Stadium, despite the understandably modest turnout making the long trip from deepest Somerset. As for the match, well, it was hot, and those Bricklayer beers had been refreshing, so there’s not too much I can remember in vivid detail. Fortunately, Graeson’s excellent coludata website ( and the Evening Gazette archives to the rescue, filling in some of my hazy memory blanks.

David Fox, one of Lambert’s recent acquisitions, was making his home debut for Colchester United. In the 9th minute he capitalised on the ball spinning loose as Vincent was tackled, just before pulling the trigger himself, to drill the ball into the net from the edge of the area for the U’s opening goal. The U’s were playing some excellent free-flowing football, which Yeovil were struggling to cope with. Barely ten minutes later, we had doubled our lead – Lisbie passing wide to Hackney, who crossed beautifully for Vincent to head home past goalkeeper McCarthy from close range. The South Stand was absolutely rocking, with everyone anticipating not just a comfortable victory, but scoring another hatful of goals in the process. We could have done so too, with Vincent, Lisbie and Beevers all going close before half-time.

The second half started very much as the first half had finished, with Lisbie running through on goal early on, only to lose control at the crucial moment. However, as the second half wore on, and the U’s appearing to sit back and play out what looked like a comfortable victory, Yeovil began to grow into the game, particularly after Skiverton made a couple of substitutions just after the hour. To counter the threat Yeovil were posing, Lambert sacrificed Lisbie up front, bringing on tenacious Izzet in midfield, which certainly helped for a while. With less than ten minutes to go, Yeovil were awarded what looked like a dodgy free-kick, albeit some way outside the box. However, up stepped Ryan Mason to curl in an absolutely first class free-kick to cut the deficit, and make for a very nervous finish to the match. More holding tactics from Lambert followed, more or less straight after bringing on the equally tenacious (and excellent) David Perkins in midfield, and the U’s managed to hold on for back-to-back league victories and a 100% start to the season.

Colchester United 2 (David Fox 9’, Ashley Vincent 18’) Yeovil 1 (Ryan Mason 82’)

So, try and keep up here: on the first day of the season Paul Lambert’s U’s defeat Bryan Gunn’s Norwich City 7-1; in the midweek Carling Cup fixtures, Bryan Gunn’s Norwich City defeat today’s opponents Yeovil Town 4-0, whilst Lambert’s U’s lose to former manager Geraint William’s Leyton Orient; by this match Gunn has been sacked, despite his 4-0 victory in Somerset; and immediately following this match Norwich City approach Robbie Cowling to sign Lambert as their new manager.

The contractual wrangling over Lambert seemed to go on and on, with ‘family’ club Norwich City showing an appallingly patronising attitude to Colchester United at times, seemingly believing that if they simply clicked their fingers we’d come to heel. Robbie Cowling was made of sterner stuff however, and eventually rinsed them for a substantial compensation settlement – but Lambert never managed another game for Colchester United, and by the following Tuesday’s home game against Gillingham (which we won as well), Joe Dunne was caretaker in charge of the U’s.

As I can’t find a match highlight video, how about we all enjoy that memorable day at Carrow Road instead.

Up the U’s
Matches of Yesteryear - an update
at 18:55 13 Mar 2020

I'm sure everyone is now aware that the 2019/20 season has now been suspended until at least early April, which inevitably has brought the current prediction league competitions (see mfb's update for the Happy League, and of course the U'sual Champions League) to what we hope is just a temporary halt.

The original concept behind the Matches of Yesteryear series was to try and post a blog about randomly selected matches from my memorabilia collection in advance of every U's fixture, and as things stand, the following fixtures are postponed:
Sat 14th March - U's v Scunthorpe
Tue 17th March - U's v Crewe
Sat 21st March - Newport v U's
Sat 28th March - U's v Mansfield

Whilst I could have easily considered that an opportunity to take a break from blogging, unlike much of the country I'm determined not to let coronavirus take any more of a grip on my life than it has done so already. So, the series will continue, but with a slight adjustment, in that I will endeavour to post on the day of the above matches, instead of in advance - after all, it's not like I'm going to have anything else to do those days...

Up the U's, and down with Covid-19 - stay safe everyone!
U'sual Champions League 2020 - Round of 16 Week 03
at 22:29 10 Mar 2020

Tonight's fixtures have finished as follows:
Leipzig 3 Spurs 0 (sorry Daniel) - Leipzig ease through to the next round with a comfortable home win to back up their 1-0 win away at Spurs.
Valencia 3 Atalanta 4 - although closer than some might have expected, Atalanta likewise have no problems progressing through at the expense of a spirited performance by Valencia.

A few points scored here and there, but not surprisingly no 3pt spot-ons. Best performance is basher2010 with two outcomes. A full update will follow tomorrow night's game, with a reminder that sevebalo can still post his predictions for the remaining fixtures in time.
FAO sevebalo and Blue4U2
at 23:51 9 Mar 2020

U'sual Champions League 2nd leg predictions still needed.

In case you miss the message on the other thread, I'll won't be getting home until about 6.30-7pm tomorrow at the earliest, so please don't rely on me being able to notify you if amendments are needed.
Matches of Yesteryear - Swindon v U's 23/8/08
at 11:52 7 Mar 2020

Another very busy week at work, so apologies this is a little later than usual. For once I look out on a Saturday with bright skies and the sun even occasionally peeking out – will it be shining on John McGreal and the U’s by 5pm though? It’s at times like this I need the sage words of Doris Day (and latterly Wivenhoe resident Captain Sensible) “Happy talk – keep talkin’ happy talk”.
Matches of Yesteryear - Swindon v U's 23/8/08
at 11:51 7 Mar 2020

Another very busy week at work, so apologies this is a little later than usual. For once I look out on a Saturday with bright skies and the sun even occasionally peeking out – will it be shining on John McGreal and the U’s by 5pm though? It’s at times like this I need the sage words of Doris Day (and latterly Wivenhoe resident Captain Sensible) “Happy talk – keep talkin’ happy talk”.

Swindon Town v Colchester United
Saturday 23rd August 2008
Coca-Cola League 1 (Tier 3)
Attendance 7,031

Match #47 of the Matches of Yesteryear series, and it’s yet another of my birthday football trips, making the relatively short journey over to the County Ground to watch the U’s take on Swindon Town (third visit in the series). Match #46 covered a trip to London Road in our 1997/98 season getting promoted to Division 3, and ten years later we’re at the start of our first campaign after relegation to Division 3. Swindon has never been a particularly popular trip for me, it may be easy to get to, but we seldom win, it’s not a nice place, and I find their supporters boorish at best. But, on the flip side, I was once tolerated entering their home fans only County Ground Hotel (in my U’s shirt) to gather lots of signatures for our new stadium petition, so I’ll happily give them credit for that.

We’d had a baptism of fire in our opening match back in Division 3, losing heavily 4-2 at Hartlepool (and with just 12 minutes to go, it was 4-0), followed by a spirited if somewhat deflating 0-0 draw for our first competitive match at the new Community Stadium. This left George Williams and the U’s in the relegation zone, and whilst league tables mean very little this early in a season, we all desperately needed to something to steady the ship and pull away from immediate danger. Swindon, under Maurice Malpas, had made a slightly better start, beating Tranmere 3-1 at home on the first day before losing 0-2 at local rivals Cheltenham.

This was a busy weekend, not least my birthday weekend, but we’d also had friends over on the Friday night, so by Saturday lunchtime there was still some latent fragility lingering. I drove over to the game with my two boys, and I’m pretty sure this was Alfie’s first ever football trip. Sam, by then, had already been dragged to enough matches to make him almost a seasoned veteran. We parked up down one of the side streets near the ground and headed for a quick drink at the Merlin before kick-off. Always a popular destination for home and away fans alike, and I can honestly say I’ve never seen any problems whilst I’ve been there.

Alfie’s football experience begins…

The U’s lined up:
1….Dean Gerken
2….John White
6….Paul Reid
16..Matt Heath
3….Matt Lockwood
11..Mark Yeates
10..Kem Izzet (Dean Hammond 76’)
4….Johnnie Jackson
27..Anthony Wordsworth
9….Clive Platt
24..Scott Vernon (Akanni-Sunday Wasiu 85’)

As you can tell from the programme front cover, there was much focus on Johnnie Jackson leading up to this game. Jacko had made his football league debut for Swindon whilst on loan from Spurs, and had made a very good impression on the Robins during his stay, helped immensely by scoring on his debut with a well-struck free-kick against Northampton. As we all know, his next loan spell after that was with the U’s, again making a very positive impression – so much so that when the opportunity came, we signed him in 2006. However, for me I was more interested in seeing Nigerian Akanni-Sunday Wasiu. Some of you will have met my mate Jon, we usually get together for U’s matches at least once or twice a season, and he’s definitely got the U’s bug now. However, when he isn’t following the U’s, or on those rare occasions when he can get to the Emirates, he also follows St Albans City. He had told me all about Wasiu, who had made a huge impression on him in the relatively short spell he was at St Albans and was genuinely chuffed when he learned that we had taken him on loan.

Pre-match drinks and hotdogs for the boys out of the way, we took our seats in a reasonably well-filled stadium, and amongst what must have been nearly 400 U’s fans. It was a beautiful day and in the middle of the school holidays, which had clearly helped persuade more than usual to make the trip over from Essex.

Sam and Alfie ready for kick-off

The match itself was an absolute cracker, if you were a U’s fan that is. Right from the outset we were pressing Swindon hard, keeping them penned in their own half for long periods, and really controlling the game. We were helped by a very poor showing from Swindon Town, described by the Gazette quite rightly as “…lethargic”. With just over half an hour gone, it came as no surprise when a long free-kick from Gerken, launched from midway in our own half, was steered expertly by Platt into the path of Jackson (the prodigal son, who else), who made no mistake from 20 yards, drilling his left foot shot into the bottom corner. The away end erupted, even my boys joining in!

But we weren’t done yet, and continued to harry and harass the Robins for the rest of the half. Bang on half-time the excellent U’s received their reward, with Jackson this time turning provider. There was, it has to be said, a degree of good fortune in our second goal, with Jackson almost reverse passing towards the penalty area whilst running back towards midfield, but the Swindon defender made a complete horse’s @rse of what should have been an easy clearance, and a grateful Scott Vernon nipped in to lift the ball over the advancing goalkeeper. 2-0 at half-time, we were all in fine voice, so time for a half-time hotdog.

It’s bigger than his head…

We were of course in dreamland – we’d all hoped for a decent performance to get our season going, but I suspect most have seen too many fruitless trips to Swindon over the years to expect too much. The big question now was could we hold on, or whisper it, even go further. I was firmly expecting us to carry on in the same vein second half – Swindon had been as poor as we had been excellent, and there would surely be no other outcome if it continued the same into the second half. However, Malpas had other ideas, and made a double substitution for the second half, bringing on Mark Marshall and Craig Easton. This clearly made a difference, and it was a much closer contest in the early stages of the second half, even if the U’s still looked comfortable.

Then came the moment of controversy – well two moments I suppose. First off, Gerken, under pressure from a Swindon player, appeared to fumble a deep cross into the box with a full-blooded clearance from one of our defenders rebounding off a Swindon attacker and into the empty net. Fortunately, referee Clive Penton had spotted (and the replay sort of corroborates him) that Gerken had been impeded and the goal disallowed. However, perhaps to make up for what the Swindon players vehemently protested had been a good goal, he made amends by then gifting them a very soft penalty, when Matt Heath was adjudged to have handled in the box, and the penalty was despatched by Simon Cox. Just over 20 minutes to go, could the U’s hold on?

In truth, though I don’t remember too much of the detail, we easily held on. Despite the boost of getting a goal back, Swindon were still rather poor, and the U’s in all honesty always looked the more likely to score again. We had our own very good shout for a penalty denied, when Ifil clearly handled whilst on the ground as Vernon was preparing to round him and slam home another goal, but still were comfortably in control. So much so, that with five minutes to go George decided to give Akanni-Sunday Wasiu a run out, taking off Scotty too hotty Vernon. Wasiu repaid that confidence in him four minutes later, racing through the middle from a delightful through ball on what looked like a one on one with the goalkeeper. In all honesty, the goalkeeper should have got to the ball first, but had a mare and instead let his foot slide over the oncoming ball, to allow Wasiu the easiest of tap-ins for his first U’s goal, and we went ballistic! There was no way back for Swindon after that.

Swindon Town 1 (Simon Cox 67’p) Colchester United 3 (Johnnie Jackson 32’, Scott Vernon 45’, Akanni-Sunday Wasiu 89’)

Despite his early promise, Wasiu never really established himself at the U’s, clearly the step up from non-league had been a bit too far. We sent him out on loan to Luton the following January (Hatters manager Mick Harford had also been keen to sign him apparently), but that didn’t work out either, and at the end of this season he drifted out of English football – I think he’s still playing, currently at Terengganu FC II in Malaysia according to Wikipedia.

Struggling to adapt to life back in Division 3, this was Geraint Williams’ only league victory of the season, and was sacked in September. He was eventually replaced by Paul Lambert in October, and although Lambert’s arrival had a positive impact on the pitch, it was very much less so off the pitch.

First trip for Alfie, and first victory too. For Sam, it was same old same old, and in all our times travelling to watch the U’s together, he has still never seen us lose!

The match highlights are still on YouTube, so sit back and enjoy…

Up the U’s
Prediction Logged by at 06:51:54
Carlisle United v Colchester United prediction logged
Prediction Logged by at 19:50:05
Colchester United v Cheltenham Town prediction logged
Matches of Yesteryear - Posh v U's 11/10/97
at 19:28 28 Feb 2020

Another Saturday, another storm – this time Storm Jorge (pronounced ‘hohr-heh’, the Spanish Met Office apparently beat us to the punch on naming this one, so Storm Ellen will have to wait). After the horizontal blasting we received from Storm Dennis at Salford last weekend, I’m rather hopeful the U’s are learning to adjust to these conditions, and at least the JCS pitch ought to hold up better than the Peninsula’s did last Saturday – will it ever stop raining though…
Matches of Yesteryear - Posh v U's 11/10/97
at 19:27 28 Feb 2020

Another Saturday, another storm – this time Storm Jorge (pronounced ‘hohr-heh’, the Spanish Met Office apparently beat us to the punch on naming this one, so Storm Ellen will have to wait). After the horizontal blasting we received from Storm Dennis at Salford last weekend, I’m rather hopeful the U's are learning to adjust to these conditions, and at least the JCS pitch ought to hold up better than the Peninsula’s did last Saturday – will it ever stop raining though…

Peterborough United v Colchester United
Saturday 11th October 1997
Nationwide League Division 3 (Tier 4)
Attendance 6,277

Match #46 of the Matches of Yesteryear series, and we go right back to 1997/98, and perhaps appropriately the last time we successfully managed to get out of the football basement (in the right direction obviously). It is mid-October, and the U’s travelled to London Road, home of near neighbours Peterborough United, managed back then by the irrepressible Barry Fry. Always a colourful character, Fry really became a household name during his second spell as manager of Barnet from 1986 to 1993. This was partly because of both Barnet’s success and his larger than life persona, but mainly because of his tempestuous relationship with controversial chairman Stan Flashman. During those seven years Fry was sacked and reinstated by Flashman eight times, eventually having the last laugh by walking out on Barnet for Southend two months before the end of the 1992/93 season (as if going to Southend was anything to laugh about).

The U’s, under Steve Wignall, had started the season reasonably well, with an indifferent August followed by a much better September, and by this game were positioned 9th, one point outside the play-offs, and six points from the top three automatic promotion slots. Peterborough were enjoying a considerably better start to the season, top of the league on goal difference, and banging in goals for fun (averaging nearly 2.5 per game at the time). Peterborough often enjoy this reputation, and it’s usually matched by an equally fragile defence (the ‘we’re going to score one more goal than you’ approach), but this time they were getting that part of the game in order, and had one of the meanest defences in the league as well, conceding less than a goal per match.

I travelled over on the train for this game, stopping off pre-match for a few beers at the former Bridge Inn at the junction of London Road and what was then Cripple Sidings Lane (now renamed in a slightly more PC fashion “Hawksbill Way”). I think this was one of the first times I’d actually encountered a designated ‘away fans’ pub on my travels, and not realising it was such, was amazed to find the entire pub packed out by rowdy noisy U’s fans when I walked in – what a treat. Sadly, this is yet another great football pub that has been lost to us, closed in 2000, and now demolished to make way for “Spring View”, a characterless residential tower block.

The Bridge away fan pub, shortly after closure

The U’s lined up:
1….Carl Emberson
2….David Gregory
3….Scott Stamps
4….Aaron Skelton
5….Steve Whitton (programme lists David Greene)
6….Peter Cawley
7….Richard Wilkins
8….Steve Forbes (programme lists Paul Buckle; Karl Duguid 76’)
9….Mark Sale (Paul Abrahams 76’)
10..Tony Adcock (programme lists Isaiah Rankin)
11..Isaiah Rankin (programme lists Paul Abrahams)

Apart from corner-pishing curse-breaking Barry, there were a few names in the Posh line-up that are worthy of mention, not least Mark Tyler in goal. Tyler had been at Peterborough since 1994, but after a series of loans to other clubs, this was really the first season he established himself as their no. 1. He would go on to make 413 appearances for the Posh, before transferring to make another 257 appearances for Luton, then returning between the sticks for Peterborough after that. All in all, Tyler made 691 first team appearances throughout his long career, and is now goalkeeping coach at Peterborough. Miguel De Souza, formerly of Wycombe Wanderers, was also on the bench for Posh, but the name which really resonated for me was Jimmy Quinn.

In my previous life living in Bradford during the 80s, I used to watch Bradford if I couldn’t get to a U’s game (which was often, given I couldn’t drive then, and had no money). As a result, I remember the buzz that went around the city back in 1989 when Bradford signed Quinn for £210k – at the time that was a substantial amount of money. Quinn was not only a well-respected striker, but an established member of the Northern Ireland squad as well, and his signing by Terry Yorath was considered a bit of a coup. He arrived at the tail end of the 1988/89 season, and by the time he was sold for £320k to West Ham United in December, he had scored 14 goals in 35 appearances.

For the U’s, the player I was most looking forward to seeing for the first time, and the name that everyone was talking about, was mercurial striker Isaiah Rankin. Signed on loan from Arsenal a couple of weeks earlier, and although yet to be on the winning side for the U’s, Rankin was reported to be possessed of blistering pace and a real bag of tricks where dribbling was concerned.

After the excellent pre-match refreshments, the old Moy’s End away terrace was thronged with the U’s faithful in full, lubricated voice – I don’t know how many, but must have been well over 500. London Road was a bit more ramshackled than it is now, and the old terrace was both cavernous and possessed of excellent acoustics, and we were making well use of it. As with games against Cambridge United, to me matches against Peterborough seem to have lost a bit of their spark these days, but back then they were much more feisty affairs, with the ever-present potential for things to get a bit physical. The Moy’s End was one of the last remaining standing terraces left in English professional football, demolished in December 2013 to make way for the unimaginatively designed and named Motorpoint Stand – but that’s progress for you.

RIP Moy’s End - you'll be missed, but not your pillars

The U’s started much the brighter of the two, and a neutral observer would have struggled to recognise which of the teams was currently top of the league. Rankin, in particular, was absolutely everywhere, causing the Peterborough back line no end of torment, both through the middle and down the wings. He was unstoppable, and it came as no surprise when he popped up in the 32nd minute to score his first goal for the U’s – sending us ballistic on the away terrace. There was a particularly agitated group of Peterborough supporters down at the front of the Main Stand, closest to the away terrace, who appeared more intent on facing us than the match, and one of them from afar clearly was inviting me to perhaps meet outside for a chat – I laughed! The U’s were rampant, and we went in at halftime 1-0 up, though it could have been more.

If the U’s were irrepressible in the first half, they came out all guns blazing in the second half too – and with just a minute gone, had drawn a rash challenge in the box (I’m sure it was Rankin jinking and weaving through) and referee Paul Taylor had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Up stepped Rooster, for what I was certain was going to be the goal that guaranteed 3pts for the U’s. However, I hadn’t counted on Mark Tyler, who to be fair was having a very good game against a rampant U’s frontline, and he saved Adcock’s slightly tame spot-kick.

This was a significant turning point in the match, it clearly set us back a step or too, and gave Posh not just confidence, but an imperative to get back into the game as quickly as possible. Now the U’s were on the back foot, and started to sit deeper and deeper, already now seeming to think holding on was going to be the order of the day. However, we couldn’t, and in the space of a few minutes we went from 1-0 up to 2-1 down, with goals from Carruthers (55’) and Houghton (58’). Although now the boot was on the other foot, the U’s rallied, and again started to challenge. For 20 minutes, we watched a very good game of football between two very good sides, which honestly could have gone either way.

With 15 minutes to go, Wignall made a double substitution, bringing on Duguid and Abrahams for Forbes and Sale, in an attempt to swing things more to our advantage. Unfortunately, whether their introduction was unsettling/ distracting, it was Peterborough who responded first, with none other than Jimmy Quinn drilling home to give Peterborough what felt like un unassailable 3-1 lead. However, the U’s were made of sterner stuff, and continued to press Peterborough, who by then were definitely happy to try and hold on. With eight minutes to go our pressure was rewarded, as Adcock scored another for the U’s to make it 3-2. By now, it was all U’s, but despite battering Posh right to the end, we just couldn’t find any more goals.

Peterborough United 3 (Martin Carruthers 55’, Scott Houghton 58’, Jimmy Quinn 78’) Colchester United 2 (Isaiah Rankin 32’, Tony Adcock 82’)

Walking back to the train station after the game, I reflected on the day – although very disappointing to have lost, we had been excellent, thoroughly deserved far more from the game, and had given the team top of the table a real run for their money. Moreover, I couldn’t believe the quality that Rankin possessed – with him in the squad, as far as I was concerned the future for that season looked very rosy indeed.

Unfortunately, the football gods were not on our side where Rankin was concerned, and after just 12 league and FA Trophy appearances for the U’s (scoring five goals) he returned to Arsenal. They transfer-listed him at the end of the season, and although I and others were keen to sign him up, he went instead to Bradford City. The irony was not lost on me. He enjoyed modest success with Bradford, eventually making a handful of appearances for them in the Premier League, but for one so apparently blessed with talent, I can’t help feeling that Rankin underachieved in his football career?

Peterborough’s early form fell away, and by the end of the season they finished a disappointing 10th in the league, seven points behind the U’s, who were promoted via the play-offs – but that’s another story for another day.

Incidentally, I spotted the chap who wanted to chat in the car park after the game, but he didn’t seem as keen anymore…

Up the U’s
U'sual Champions League 2020 - Round of 16 Week 02
at 23:13 26 Feb 2020

U’sual Champions League – Week 02
An interesting set of results this week, after Chelsea were battered 3-0 at home to Bayern Munich, Barcelona clearly with the advantage after a 1-1 draw at Napoli, and Lyon taking a narrow 1-0 lead into their second leg at Juventus. However, the result of this week is definitely Man City turning around Isco’s goal for Real Madrid to win 2-1 away with goals from Jesus and a penalty from De Bruyne, with Real Madrid suffering the additional tiresome inconvenience of Ramos getting a straight red a few minutes after the penalty. Some of the late scores have made a significant difference to the U’sual Champions League at the end of Week 02.

Group A

BFG shows his Champions League class with the performance of Week 02, getting both the Napoli and Real Madrid results spot on, and with the added bonus of the Chelsea home defeat as an outcome, to go top of the group with a commanding 10pts. Noah couldn’t capitalise on his excellent form from Week 01, and although at one point looked to be on course for an equally impressive haul in Week 02, ultimately drew a blank. MFB did slightly better, also predicting Chelsea’s home defeat, to draw level with Noah in equal second spot – is this now a battle between these two giants to qualify in BFG’s wake?

Group B

Sevebalo continues his good form from Week 01, matching that performance with an additionally impressive 4pts to go clear top with 8pts, accurately predicting Man City’s 2-1 comeback victory, and along with many others, Chelsea’s home defeat. Week 01 joint-leader Sector4 just about remains in touch on 5pts, with the same home defeat for Chelsea, and Lewis doubles-up with the same outcome to at least keep his now fading hopes of qualifying alive.

Group C

Thrillseeker consolidates his narrow lead of Group C from Week 01, also accurately predicting Man City’s 2-1 victory at Real Madrid, backed up with outcomes for the popular home defeat for Chelsea and a rare prediction for Lyon beating Juventus. Blueeagle, after a disastrous Week 01, has a very successful Week 02, with Napoli’s 1-1 draw spot-on, and again Chelsea’s home defeat as an outcome. Daniel keeps in touch with blueeagle, with the Chelsea home defeat and Man City’s victory at Real Madrid in Week 02 to stay 1pt out of the qualifying zone.

Group D

From zero to hero, after a complete blank in Week 01, concordman matches BFG’s excellent 7pt haul this week to go top of the group, getting the Man City comeback spot-on, and remarkably as well the Lyon 1-0 victory over Juventus as well (thrillseeker being the only other to think this was a possibility). This was backed up by (again) reckoning Chelsea would lose at home to Bayern Munich – honestly, if you chaps had put money on that one, you’d all be laughing. Basher stays in touch with concordman with the Chelsea and Man City outcomes, but Blue4U2 has a mountain to climb after a blank Week 02. Not wishing to kick anyone when they’re down, but he and Noah were the only ones to not predict Chelsea’s home defeat – sometimes these courageous calls pay off, but sadly not this time.

For those yet to predict the second legs, I'll keep an eye on both threads (spotted mfb), but try and post here if you have the chance - good luck everyone!
Prediction Logged by at 22:20:43
Salford City v Colchester United prediction logged
Matches of Yesteryear - Yeading v U's 12/11/94
at 21:40 21 Feb 2020

I had a chat earlier this week with my neighbour, Head Groundsman at Forest Green, lamenting the interminably dreadful weather we’ve been experiencing, and he wryly asked the rhetorical question ‘do you know when it last wasn’t raining – October!’. Not literally, but it does feel like it right now, and all but the most pristine of surfaces are really starting to creak at the seams now. The news that there’s a pitch inspection at 9am tomorrow does not fill me with hope, particularly as I’ll be halfway to Birmingham by then…
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