Colchester United midfielder Harry Pell's weekly Gazette column

Let's relish the extra pressure

I’VE always said this season will be a rollercoaster and I stand by that but we’re still not a million miles away.

The players were as frustrated as the fans were after the Notts County game last weekend and we know that the Christmas period wasn’t great for us.

I’m thoroughly enjoying playing for a team that’s expected to be up there and there is an element of pressure.

There are no mugs in this league whatsoever though and we’ve seen that against Notts County and Morecambe recently, teams who are fighting for their lives.

The players’ livings are at stake and this league is so unforgiving.

We want to get the stadium rocking and we want supporters to enjoy themselves, when they come and watch us.

The boys are trying their hardest and we need everyone together.

We know that fans can get 25 per cent off everything in the supporters bar afterwards if we win, so that’s another incentive for us!

We’re on the road again this weekend – I’m looking forward to our trip to Port Vale and we’ll all be striving to get back to winning ways.

The next three points is massive and we need them now.

There will be pressure on us to win but that’s something we have to get used to and something we need to relish.

It’s a big pitch at Vale Park and we’re all looking forward to the game.

It’s Saturday to Saturday for us for a while now which is welcome, after the tiring Christmas period.

That’s not an excuse though – it’s the same for all teams.

But I’m sure the gaffer is looking forward to spending some solid hours on the training ground with us.

Our 3-3 draw against Notts County last weekend was a difficult one to take.

At half-time, we’d have taken a point, most definitely.

We know that the first half was nowhere good enough and it was individual errors that cost us for all three goals.

It was out of character for us this season - I went in at half-time expecting the gaffer to go off his nut but he said ‘listen, the first half’s gone and we need to get something out it and try and win it’.

We knew that Notts County are vulnerable but unfortunately, we couldn’t get the winner.

The positive was that we looked like we were going to score goals for the first time in a little while and usually when you score three in a game, you win.

It was good to get that back and we’re having more shots and crosses and corners than we were earlier in the season, so that bodes well.

Sammie Szmodics got back on target and he’ll be massive for us, in the second half of the season.

We need him firing on all cylinders, just like Nosser and Mika.

On the spot

I MANAGED to get my fifth goal of the season against Notts County when I scored from the spot and I’m pleased with that, so far.

I’ve consistently been able to score goals over the last few years and it’s something that I keep striving towards.

There was a bit of pressure on the penalty but it’s something that I’ll never shy away from.

Nosser is our penalty taker but he wasn’t on the pitch and I’m next in line, so I was happy to step up and take it.

I watched a documentary recently on England’s preparations for the World Cup and the work they did both physically and mentally for penalty taking.

Every single player who ran up to the ball took a couple of seconds after the referee had blown his whistle and I think that’s important.

Milestone man

IT was great to see Tom Eastman’s milestone marked before our game with Notts County.

To play 300 games for one club is a great achievement and you’re doing something right in your career to do something like that.

He’s shown that with his consistency and the levels that he’s played at.

He’s our longest-serving player and goes about his work very professionally every day.

He’s a great person to have around for the younger players at the club and he’s one of those old-school players who loves being a footballer but isn’t so keen on everything else that goes with it!

I'm not a fan of VAR

VAR was a big talking point again this week, after it was used in the Spurs v Chelsea Carabao Cup semi-final first leg.

I’m not a big fan of it – it slows the match down and it will eventually take away the talking point element from the game.

Referees have a hard enough job as it is at the moment and in my opinion, VAR at the moment is making it even harder for them.

Some people are playing with VAR in mind and I don’t think it’s making a positive difference.

Giantkillers are an inspiration

I WAS pleased to see some League One and League Two teams cause big upsets in the FA Cup third round, last weekend.

The likes of Newport County and Oldham Athletic did really well, as did Barnet from the National League.

Michael Flynn at Newport has got a real knack of causing upsets and it’s a great competition to be a part of.

Those kind of results can be an inspiration to other teams and it’s something that we definitely have to work on, for next season, because it also affects the budgets.

I’ve played in games where the wind has been a factor in the past but I was surprised to hear Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp mention it when talking after his side’s FA Cup defeat at Wolves, on Monday night.

Both teams have to deal with it – if a team plays a long ball style then it could maybe come into your thinking but that wasn’t the case here.

Beard today, gone tomorrow

A LOT of people have been asking where my beard has gone, after I decided to shave it off.

The answer is that it’s coming back slowly.

When I went into the changing room after I’d shaved it off, the boys thought that I was a new signing!

It got a bit of banter but it’s a bit cold without it, so it’s coming back!