O's Cup Exit Reaction: U's In Top-six Mix...?
Not Vital U's thoughts by those of Orient's Editor, Kid Sampson, who was in the away end at the WHCS for the U's League Cup loss, thinks Paul Lambert's naked ambition for a play-off place this season might not be too unrealistic despite last this result...
"Colchester United have been busy this summer, splurging money on Cheltenham's best player for the second year in a row and bringing in a total of seven players. Lincoln's Lee Beevers is the stand-out signing amongst an average-looking set of deals, and Lambert's capture of fellow grumpy Scot Gary Holt is bordering on the inexplicable. Fans will be pleased to see reserve players Matt Heath and John White farmed out to their friends from the estuary, but almost certainly less pleased that Mark Yeats will not be appearing for the U's this term. The talented winger has moved to Middlesborough to replace the rubbish Stewart Downing at 1/16th of the price, and is sure to be a hit on Teeside. Colchester's hopes of joining him in the Championship look slim."
I wrote the above for my season preview a couple of weeks ago (actually, I was far ruder than that, but you get the gist). Like all pundits from the Championship Manager generation, I have ultimate faith in my convictions… right up until they get changed by what unfolds in front of my eyes. Last night`s game at the WHCS has certainly done that. Orient may have won the game with a consummate away performance, but I saw enough about Paul Lambert`s charges to suggest that a tilt at the top six might not be a stretch of the imagination after all.
The Pat Baldwin / Magnus Okuonghae axis in central defence coped well with the aerial threat of James Scowcroft and the movement of Adrian Patulea. Orient`s attacks were few and far between, and, the lapse after 90 seconds aside, the Os forwards didn`t really get into the game. Lee Beevers, however, was out of place at left back, and would surely be better used elsewhere in the back line.
Further up the pitch David Perkins and Kemal Izzet were neat and tidy in the centre of the park without ever dictating the game. However, both should prove effective foils for the more dynamic Dean Hammond. In wider areas Ashley Vincent and Simon Hackney provide real quality at this level. Hackney was the best player on the pitch last night; his trickery on the ball, crossing and set piece delivery will be vital for unlocking defences this year.
Up front, most sides would give their mascot to have Scott Vernon as a back up striker. Platt and Lisbie are as dangerous a strike force as there is in the division. I`m from the 'good big`un and a good littl`un school` and those two certainly fit the bill. Had Lisbie`s finishing been sharper yesterday, Colchester would be the side in second round draw. Platt`s link-up play was exceptional, and they certainly showed real promise as a pairing.
I was impressed with the ball retention and the intent to attack - United will certainly face flimsier central defences than Ben Chorley and Tam Mkandawire, and thus get a lot more joy. Colchester might have been written off before a ball was kicked by know-nothing Orient fans, but their chances of joining Mark Yeates in the Championship don`t look so slim after all…
Kid Sampson, Vital Orient.
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