THERE’S no dressing it up – this has been a hugely disappointing season for Colchester United.

Having experienced the highs of reaching the League Two play-offs and the League Cup quarter-finals the previous season, the U’s have found themselves battling to remain a Football League club this time around.

Thankfully, Colchester secured the points they needed to stay in the division and avoid dropping into the National League and despite their struggles, there have been some plus points, this season.

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 an undeniably eventful 2020-21 campaign.



WHEN Hayden Mullins took over as Colchester’s interim head coach at the end of March, they were just four points clear of the bottom two with eight matches left, having gone seven matches without a win.

The U’s League Two status was looking in jeopardy but the former West Ham United favourite, working alongside first-team advisor Paul Tisdale, helped to turn their fortunes around.

He led them to three wins, three draws and two defeats in his eight games in charge, helping them to stay up and also earn a League Two Manager of the Month award nomination for April.

Mullins’ calmness and composure in a difficult situation has played a big part in helping Colchester stay in the division.



COLCHESTER’S players have come in for a fair amount of criticism this season, following results and performances on the field.

But there have been some success stories within the squad this season, none more so than Noah Chilvers.

The U’s academy product has enjoyed a superb breakthrough season for the first team, having only made his first-ever league start against Bradford City back in August.

The 20-year-old midfielder has showed maturity beyond his years having made 36 league starts for Colchester this season – only Tommy Smith and Tom Eastman made more.

Brendan Wiredu and Ryan Clampin have also been impressive young performers for the U’s in a difficult campaign, while Kwame Poku’s international call-up for Ghana was a big moment for the skilful attacker.



THERE weren’t too many high moments for Colchester, this season.

But their win over Essex rivals Southend United in a crucial derby last month was arguably their most enjoyable – and significant – win of the season.

The manner in which Colchester’s players dealt with the pressure of the situation to produce an excellent team display when it was really needed most was heartening, with goals from Michael Folivi and Harry Pell securing them a memorable victory.

The only pity was that there were no U’s fans at the JobServe Community Stadium…but more of that later.



IT may seem like a long time ago now but Colchester actually made a solid start to the season.

Under newly-appointed head coach Steve Ball, they were unbeaten in their opening five League Two games, a sequence that included a win over Bolton Wanderers and draw at Bradford City.

Indeed, the U’s lost only two of their opening 12 league fixtures and were not beaten at the JobServe Community Stadium until Morecambe won 2-1 at the venue, just before Christmas.

The 6-1 drubbing at Exeter City last November seemed to be a turning point for Colchester – for all of the wrong reasons.



WHEN Tom Stagg came off the bench as a late substitute for Colchester United in their 0-0 draw at Tranmere Rovers last weekend, he became their eighth academy product to make his debut for the club, this season.

The emphasis the U’s place on their youth set-up – and the pathway they provide to the first team – is well known but this season has seen an unprecedented number of youngster make their senior bow for the club.

Billy Cracknell, Marley Marshall, Harvey Sayer, Junior Tchamadeu, Samson Tovide, along with Sammie McLeod and Miquel Scarlett who have since left the club, also made their maiden first-team appearances for Colchester, this season.



COLCHESTER United’s 20th-place finish this season was their lowest league placing in the Football League since the 1989-90 campaign, when they ended up 24h in the fourth tier and being relegated to the Conference.

The second half of the campaign from December onwards was particularly disappointing, with the U’s going 14 games without a win and managing only one victory in 25 matches.

That was a sequence that left them perilously close to the League Two relegation zone, before improved form in the final weeks of the season helped them pull away from danger.



LIKE many teams who struggle against relegation, Colchester United suffered at both ends of the pitch.

The U’s undoubtedly suffered from a lack of goals; they ended up with a tally of 44 goals.

Only four teams scored fewer times, with three of the clubs finishing the season in the bottom three.

Indeed, Colchester went five games without finding the net in March.

At the other end, the U’s shipped a total of 61 goals, a tally dented considerably by the heavy away defeats at Exeter City and Oldham Athletic.

Only four teams conceded more goals than the U’s in League Two, this season but encouragingly, they were much better defensively in the final weeks of the season, conceding only two goals in their final five matches.



COLCHESTER’S away record this season has been quite frankly, awful.

They recorded only one win on the road in the entire campaign, a 1-0 victory at Scunthorpe United back in December.

It was the lowest away match win percentage with four per cent in the whole of the division and was a big factor in them struggling near the wrong end of the table.

Colchester also drew 11 away games, with only Walsall sharing the spoils on more occasions, on their travels.



HAVING experienced the highs of beating Spurs and Crystal Palace and travelling to play Manchester United at Old Trafford the previous season, Colchester United’s cup form was somewhat less impressive this time around.

The penalty shoot-out home defeat at the hands of eighth-tier outfit Marine last November was a real low and they fell at the first hurdle in the FA Cup, Carabao Cup and Papa John’s Trophy.

The only real bright spot for the U’s in the cup competitions was the 6-1 thrashing of Southend United which followed a few days after the Marine humiliation, with Jevani Brown scoring a hat-trick.



SADLY, there have been a fair few setbacks and disappointments for Colchester, this season.

But the biggest downer for everyone has been the absence of the U’s fans.

Aside from a couple of games against Grimsby Town and Morecambe last December where around 1,000 supporters were in attendance, the JobServe Community Stadium seats have been vacant on matchday and that has certainly been to the detriment of everyone.

Colchester’s loyal fans will support their team win, lose or draw and would have loved to have been at stadiums up and down the country to cheer on their team – no matter how disappointing the results have been, this season.