Carlisle United 1 Colchester United 1: Carl Marston’s Talking Points

PUBLISHED: 12:36 11 February 2018

A disappointed Colchester boss, John McGreal, after the 1-1 draw at Carlisle. McGreal is flanked by Mikael Mandron, left, and Brandon Comley. Picture: PAGEPIX

A disappointed Colchester boss, John McGreal, after the 1-1 draw at Carlisle. McGreal is flanked by Mikael Mandron, left, and Brandon Comley. Picture: PAGEPIX

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Carl Marston highlights a few talking points after yesterday’s 1-1 draw at Carlisle, when Courtney Senior’s 44th minute opener was matched by Jamie Devitt’s 79th minute free-kick.

BRILLIANT WALKER

Although the U’s dominated for large spells, Sam Walker did pull off three fine saves in the first half.

One of this trio particularly stood out.

Former U’s loanee winger, Jamal Campbell-Ryce, swung over a teasing cross to the edge of the six-yard box, where striker Cole Stockton’s firm header was brilliantly turned away by the acrobatic Walker.

That was a wonder save – it was almost worth a goal!

Four minutes later and Walker was called into action again, this time diving low to his left to palm away Mike Jones’ long-range shot, down at his near post.

- Carl Marston’s Player Ratings

The ex-Chelsea trainee, who celebrated his 200th appearance for Colchester with a clean-sheet in the previous weekend’s 2-0 home win over Newport County, made a third save before the break.

The 26-year-old launched himself to his right to turn away a 20-yard firecracker from Stockton, on 32 minutes.

Walker had very little to do in the second period, and he had no chance with Devitt’s killer free-kick for the equaliser.

The U’s No. 1 is bang in form, which is good news for the rest of the season.

BREATH OF FRESH AIR

Courtney Senior has injected pace and flair into the U’s side, since he burst onto the scene.

And the ex-Brentford trainee also has the knack of appearing in their right place, in terms of scoring goals.

The 20-year-old was well-positioned to stroke home a 44th minute opener, after Kurtis Guthrie’s low shot had been pushed away by keeper Jack Bonham.

Senior has slotted in well to the attacking central role, just behind the front two of Mikael Mandron and Kurtis Guthrie, to the extent that he is keeping leading scorer Sammie Szmodics out of the team at the moment.

He has now scored three goals in just six league appearances for the U’s, and this weekend was only his third league start.

FAILURE TO KILL OFF TEAMS

For all their chances, the U’s continue to fluff their lines too often.

They did manage to find the second goal, to open up a 2-0 advantage against Newport the previous weekend, but that has been an exception rather than the norm.

Too often the U’s have taken the lead, but then let their opponents off the hook.

- ‘I’m gutted,’ insists John McGreal

It happened away at Port Vale, with a late equaliser in a 2-2 draw, and it happened again at Brunton Park.

They find it difficult to protect a one-goal lead, and if a play-off push is to be successful, then they need to start killing off teams.

Boss John McGreal insists that his team should be putting opposition “to the sword.”

He is right.

A BIG WEEK AHEAD

This weekend’s result leaves the U’s four places and five points adrift of the play-offs.

That is a gap that can easily be bridged, but the U’s really need a couple of good results this week, at home to Coventry City on Tuesday evening and then away at struggling Crewe Alexandra the following weekend.

After that, there is only a dozen matches left, and McGreal’s men do not want to be playing catch-up for the remainder of the season, especially as they have played more games than most of their rivals.

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