Stoke (1) 2 Colchester (0) 1
Saturday 6th October 2007
The Britania Stadiumn
Total Football Is Total Rubbish If There`s No Win
So fortune favours the brave? Not always. Colchester United`s speciality may be gung-ho football, their manager Geriant Williams admitted as much before kick-off against Stoke City, but getting points is what counts.
In a week where Portsmouth`s Harry Redknapp said he would prefer to win a football match with a gargantuan scoreline than with a minimal number of goals, Colchester managed to score five and concede four over two games.
After only three points out of a possible six, the admission on yesterday`s team bus would have been that expansive play is a form of net-busting Roulette.
Talk in advance of the fixture was dominated by talk of “chemistry” and “blooding a new team”.
What is apparent from the U`s fist away defeat is that a predilection for netting the white ball as many times as possible is not practical. When defensive midfielder Kem Izzet speaks about wanting to get 10 goals a season, you have to wonder if he`s been listening in those important tactics meetings.
In effect, Colchester paid a price at the Britannia Stadium for an overly-attacking philosophy. Liam Lawrence ‘s winner, from a narrow angle past the left of U`s stopper Dean Gerken, suck the ship that has been too eagerly tilting toward that old battle cry of ‘attack, attack, attack` in recent weeks.
Not that we want staccato stuff – the fans who pay good money certainly don`t appreciate stilted play. The worrying point for Colchester is that this mentality has become something they can`t control, an ornate by-product of a team just beginning to emerge into the light after a summer of growth and change.
The urgency and eagerness to hit the string has worked away from Layer Road so far this term, because not many teams expect to take a trouncing from a relatively small outfit in their own back yard. Yet, because last season`s success during the debut Championship campaign was built on a solidarity at home, Colchester are entitled to wonder, after only one win under the hallowed lights in Essex since May, where all the wins have gone.
This obligation and urge to entertain in football is an oft-debated topic. Liam Lawrence was at it all day against the U`s, with his goal and, before that lay-off, the by-line assist which gave the talented on-loan Manchester United youngster Ryan Shawcross for an impressive headed finish for 1-0. The foray of blocked shots allowed Lawrence the chance to ping the ball back into the six-yard box for Shawcross to finish.
Williams, needless to say, was not a happy man at the final whistle: “I’m very disappointed. We had spoken about Stoke being a big and physical side and I stressed the importance for us to make a strong start,” he told the BBC.
When Clive Platt got his name on the scoresheet to level the match, he could have been forgiven for thinking that the old Dutch template of playing Total Football, adapted in this corner of North Essex by a Welsh manager whose demeanor as an interviewee belies such tactics, had worked once again.
Not so. As Williams ought to be reminding his merry band of artisans this week, the foremost priority is to bag victory. Points, after all, are what win you prizes.
Match Report – Stoke 2 Col U 1
Stoke (1) 2 Colchester (0) 1