COLCHESTER United are now busy planning for next season, following the completion of another Football League campaign.

John McGreal’s side finished eighth in League Two, just a point adrift of the play-off places after narrowly missing out on the final day despite winning 3-0 at champions Lincoln City.

In contrast with last year, the U’s finished on a high note results-wise after claiming ten points from a possible 12 in their final four games, with their last two wins coming against teams who have won automatic promotion.

It was a season that had plenty of highs but ultimately ended in disappointment with the U's missing out on the play-offs - so what were the main positives and negatives from Colchester’s campaign?

The Daily Gazette’s Colchester United reporter Jonathan Waldron, who has followed the U’s up and down the country again this season, examines some of the pluses and minuses from the 2018-19 campaign.



COLCHESTER United were unable to achieve their main goal of promotion, this season.

But they nevertheless finished on 70 points, which was their highest total in a league season since Aidy Boothroyd led the U’s to 72 points in League One, in the 2009-10 campaign.

Indeed, Colchester clocked up a total of 20 league wins this season, with only the sides that won automatic promotion chalking up more victories.

It is the most wins the club have registered in a single campaign since they finished eighth under Boothroyd, nine years ago.


MISSING out on a play-off place naturally felt like a big disappointment for many Colchester United followers, especially given the fact that they were in the automatic promotion places heading into Christmas.

But their eighth-place finish was at least an improvement on the previous season, where they ended up 13th and experienced their lowest league finish for 24 years, with eight fewer points.

Colchester also showed advancement at both ends of the pitch.

They hit 65 league goals, the U's second best total since 2006-07 while at the other end of the pitch they kept 19 clean sheets, equalling the number recorded by Phil Parkinson's 2005-2006 promotion-winning team.


COLCHESTER United enjoyed plenty of notable wins during the course of the season and were entertaining to watch.

They were the only team to double champions Lincoln City throughout the course of the season – scoring four times without conceding overall against the Imps – and also beat MK Dons on both occasions, too.

The U’s also beat play-off hopefuls Newport County and Forest Green Rovers while John McGreal’s side recorded their biggest-ever victory at the JobServe Community Stadium and their largest home win since beating Lincoln in 1996 when they thrashed Crewe Alexandra 6-0, last August.


IF his appearance at Lincoln City was to be his final game for Colchester United, Sammie Szmodics certainly bowed out in style with his two-goal salvo.

The 23-year-old enjoyed an impressive season for the U’s, finishing as their top scorer with 15 goals.

Significantly, he played more games in this campaign than in any other in his career and has given everything for the cause, in the name of his home-town club.

Szmodics’ continued development has undoubtedly been one of the plus points of the season for the U’s and as much as it would be a bitter blow to lose his services, few would begrudge the former Stanway School pupil a move to a higher-placed club, this summer.


IT was another season for the emergence of academy talent at Colchester United.

Ollie Kensdale, Noah Chilvers, Todd Miller and Ryan Clampin all made their professional bows during the 2018-19 campaign for John McGreal’s side, having emerged through the club’s youth-team set-up.

That was on top of the home-grown players like Sammie Szmodics, Frankie Kent, Tom Lapslie and Kane Vincent-Young who have already established themselves in the U’s first-team squad.

It bodes well for the next campaign, especially if the U’s lose one or two of their prized assets to higher-placed clubs.



FOR the second successive season, Colchester United experienced a downturn in results in the second half of the campaign.

The U’s went into Christmas on the back of a fine 1-0 win at MK Dons and sitting pretty in League Two’s automatic promotion places.

But what followed was a miserable Christmas period which resulted in one point being claimed from a possible nine and the U’s did not really recover, with a disappointing run of five defeats in six matches during March and April particularly damaging.

They managed eight wins in the 21 matches that followed in 2019 – and 28 points from a possible 63 - leading to them dropping out of both the top three and play-off positions and finishing eighth.

It was a similar scenario the previous season, where Colchester went into the New Year three points off the automatic promotion places but managed just five wins in 21 matches, in the second half of the campaign.


IT’S no coincidence that Colchester United’s form suffered the moment Harry Pell injured his hamstring against his former club Cheltenham Town, in February.

The influential midfielder had been a big hit both on and off the pitch following his summer transfer and had shown just why the U’s were so keen to secure his services.

Colchester won only one of the seven games that immediately followed Pell’s injury, when their predicament was compounded by fellow central midfielders Tom Lapslie and Brandon Comley also being sidelined at the same time, along with Ben Stevenson also carrying a knock.

Things improved when Sam Saunders was brought in on a short-term deal in March but by then, the U’s had lost valuable ground in the promotion race.


ASIDE from missing a whole season due to injury, Sam Walker was a near ever-present performer for Colchester United during his five-and-a-half year spell at the JobServe Community Stadium.

So the fact that no one goalkeeper has been able to nail down the U’s number one spot this season has been quite stark.

Youngster Dillon Barnes started the season as Colchester's number one but lost his place to Rene Gilmartin last October following a 3-1 defeat at Stevenage and after that, the position changed hands on a number of occasions.

Ethan Ross, who up until last month had not made a Football League appearance, ended up finishing the campaign in goal for the U’s and helped them secure back-to-back wins, which bodes well for next season.

Paradoxically, the U’s kept an impressive total of 19 clean sheets throughout the campaign, despite the apparent instability between the sticks.


COLCHESTER United racked up plenty of wins, over the course of the campaign.

And amazingly, their final 14 victories of the season all came without them conceding.

Indeed, they only shipped goals in three of their 20 league victories.

But perhaps the disappointing downside to those statistics was that the U’s were unable to come from behind to win any of their league games this season, once they had gone behind.

Generally speaking, John McGreal’s side struggled to pick up points after conceding the first goal of the season and their inability to battle back from setbacks in games ultimately proved costly.


FOR the third season in a row, Colchester United fell at the first hurdle in all three of the cup competitions in which they competed.

It was certainly no disgrace for them to bow out of the FA Cup at the hands of League One outfit Accrington Stanley, in the first round.

But the defeat was nonetheless disappointing, not least as it prevented the U’s from earning some valuable prize money in the competition which would more than likely have gone towards strengthening the squad.

The Carabao Cup exit at League Two rivals Cheltenham Town on penalties was also a setback, as was the lack of progression in the Checkatrade Trophy despite a morale-boosting win over Essex neighbours Southend United.