New blood and other Talking Points from Colchester United’s stalemate against Swindon

PUBLISHED: 11:51 29 April 2018 | UPDATED: 11:51 29 April 2018

Dillon Barnes in action on his Football League debut against Swindon last Saturday. Picture: STEVE WALLER

Dillon Barnes in action on his Football League debut against Swindon last Saturday. Picture: STEVE WALLER

© Copyright Stephen Waller

It was quite appropriate that Colchester United’s 2017-18 home campaign should end in a goalless stalemate.

Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe heads towards goal, but straight at Swindon keeper Stuart Moore, during the closing stages of Saturday's 0-0 draw. Picture: STEVE WALLERJunior Ogedi-Uzokwe heads towards goal, but straight at Swindon keeper Stuart Moore, during the closing stages of Saturday's 0-0 draw. Picture: STEVE WALLER

It was quite appropriate that Colchester United’s 2017-18 home campaign should end in a goalless stalemate.

This will not go down as a vintage season, by any stretch of the imagination, the U’s failing to mount a strong promotion push, while once again exiting all cup competitions at the first hurdle.

With one match remaining, John McGreal’s men have slipped to 12th in the table, a distant 12 points adrift of the play-offs.

Last season, their first back in the fourth tier, they were just one point and one place behind the top-seven, with 69 points accrued, having scored 67 goals and conceded 57.

This term, there is a danger they might not even finish in the top half of the table, and have mustered only 62 points from 45 fixtures.

It is not difficult to see where the Essex club have struggled, as Saturday’s stalemate confirmed – the goals have dried up.

Defensively, the U’s have actually improved from 12 months ago, with a mere 51 goals leaked, but at the other end of the pitch just 53 goals netted is 14 less than last term, with just a long trip to fourth-placed Exeter to come.

Plus marks

With no promotion or relegation issues at stake, for either side, U’s boss McGreal took the chance to blood a couple of potential regulars for 2018-19, in the shape of keeper Dillon Barnes and wide-attacker Ryan Gondoh.

Both can be more than satisfied with how they performed on their Football League debuts.

Barnes kept a clean-sheet, which is never to be sniffed at by a keeper, regardless of how quiet he may have been over 90 minutes.

The 22-year-old, who has at least had first-team experience on loan at Welling and Hemel Hempstead on the non-league circuit this season, was well protected by his defenders and only had one or two saves to make.

- Carl Marston’s Player Ratings

Barnes did have one early sighter, safely getting his body behind a long-range free-kick from Matty Taylor, which was deflected into his arms on six minutes.

Overall, he looked composed with his kicking and certainly did not look out of his depth on the League Two stage.

It was unusual not to see Sam Walker between the sticks – the 26-year-old had been ever-present in the U’s previous 90 league games – but McGreal needs to give Barnes a couple of outings, with a summer departure for Walker looking on the cards.

Meanwhile, Gondoh was a breath of fresh air when he was introduced as a 68th minute substitute for his League debut.

The 20-year-old, who had a couple of seasons on the books of Barnet, before dropping into non-league, ran at Swindon’s defence and injected some pace and positivity into the U’s attacking play.

Shortly after coming on, Gondoh drew a foul from Donal McDermott, which earned the Swindon substitute a booking. He then picked himself up to take the free-kick, which was deflected over the bar.

U’s home fans were also treated to an exciting run by Gondoh, from deep in his own half, on 82 minutes, which pulled the Robins’ back-line apart. He released Sammie Szmodics, who was closed down inside the penalty area before he could shoot.

Barnes and Gondoh look sure to get a second chance to impress at Exeter this coming weekend.

Walker’s decision

Will he stay, or will he go?

As soon as I saw Walker’s name on the team-sheet on Saturday, under the banner of ‘substitutes’ rather than the starting XI, I feared that we might have seen the last of the U’s consistent custodian.

His current deal expires in a few weeks, and he is yet to sign a new contract, although an offer has been made and discussions have taken place.

Walker celebrated his 200th league appearance in a U’s shirt at Lincoln the previous weekend, only the third goalkeeper to achieve that landmark after Percy Ames and namesake Mike Walker.

That 200th might also end up being his last, for the U’s.

He deserves a chance to impress, perhaps back in League One or even higher.

And whatever his final decision, the ex-Chelsea trainee has done the U’s proud over the last five years.

Few chances

The U’s did look the better team on Saturday, but with no real cutting edge. The exception was winger Drey Wright’s stinging shot which was palmed to safety at full stretch by keeper Stuart Moore in the 43rd minute.

The hosts stepped up a gear late on, but as so often been the case this season, could not apply a finishing touch.

Newsletter Sign Up

Green Un tri-weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read

Show Job Lists

Championship League table

FcTables.com

League One table

FcTables.com
MyDate24 MyPhotos24