A most welcome improvement

Colchester United need wins – and plenty of them - as they attempt to make a late push for the League Two play-offs.

But in the context of their two performances that preceded it, the U’s 1-1 draw at Mansfield Town was most welcome.

Colchester more than matched a side who have serious aspirations of automatic promotion on their own patch.

In coming from behind to claim a point, they showed the kind of battling qualities needed from a team looking to sneak a top-seven finish.

The U’s will need more of the same over their remaining ten games, if they are to close the gap on the teams above them.

Ruthless McGreal

John McGreal has shown during his near two-year reign as Colchester United’s head coach that is not afraid to make tough decisions.

But in changing half of his outfield line-up for the game at Mansfield Town, the U’s boss admitted it was a statement of intent – and showed just what he thought of his side’s dismal performance against Barnet a fortnight ago.

The recall of Brennan Dickenson, Kurtis Guthrie, Tom Lapslie, Drey Wright and Sammie Szmodics saw the return to the side of five players who have all been regular starters for him, over the last two seasons.

Courtney Senior, Ryan Inniss and Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe did not even make the bench for the Mansfield game, demonstrating McGreal’s ruthlessness in his bid to keep Colchester’s season alive.

Typical Tom

It was typical of tenacious Tom Lapslie that he fought tooth and nail to stay on the pitch at Mansfield Town after suffering a facial injury during the first half of their 1-1 draw at Field Mill.

Lapslie has always given everything to the cause since breaking into Colchester United’s first team and his reaction when threatened with the prospect of being substituted showed once again just how committed he is to the cause.

Having been recalled to the starting line-up after a five-match absence, he was not going to give up his place lightly.

Instead, Lapslie battled on and produced an excellent individual performance to help the U’s claim a well-deserved point.

Going the distance

The fact that three of Colchester United’s most recent injury victims completed 90 minutes at Mansfield Town bodes well for the remaining six weeks of the campaign.

Game time for Sammie Szmodics and Kurtis Guthrie has been limited in 2018 but both finished the game at Field Mill.

But perhaps the biggest positive for the U’s was Brennan Dickenson not only starting the match – his first appearance in their starting line-up since April 2016 – but also finishing it.

The U’s 2016-17 player of the year is still gradually rediscovering his form and last season, would probably have buried the early chance that fell to him at Mansfield.

However, Dickenson nevertheless put in a tireless display and has the potential to play a big part in the remainder of Colchester’s season.

The quiet assassin

Brandon Comley served the role as Colchester United’s quiet assassin at Mansfield Town.

The former QPR midfielder calmly goes about his business in midfield and his performances have certainly left an impression on U’s head coach John McGreal.

“Brandon has been excellent since the day he walked in the building,” said the U’s boss, after seeing his former loanee score his first-ever career goal in the 1-1 draw.

It could prove to be a crucial one in the context of Colchester’s season and they will now need players chipping in with further goals from other areas of the field, if they are to clinch a play-off spot.