Out of character

THE fact that Colchester United have been one of the most consistent sides in League Two over recent months shows just how out of character their insipid second-half display against Cheltenham Town was – and how hard they found it to play more than half of the game with only ten men.

Sadly, the U’s looked a shadow of the side that had gone six games unbeaten and kept three successive clean sheets once winger Kyel Reid had been given his marching orders for hitting out at Joe Morrell, just before half-time.

Having led at the break through Kurtis Guthrie’s excellent strike, they simply capitulated against a rampant Cheltenham side who attacked them at will, like a lion that sensed the blood of wounded prey.

To lose 4-1 was a hugely disappointing outcome for John McGreal’s side, who knew they would have moved into the automatic promotion places had they won by two goals or more.

As McGreal said, there were no excuses.

But given Colchester’s hectic schedule over the festive period, where they played four games in nine days, it was perhaps hardly surprising that the demand of playing a man short for more than 45 minutes took such a severe toll.

Indeed, their second-half performance was just as out of character as Reid’s red card.

Guthrie the shining light

ON what proved to be a very disappointing day for Colchester United, the sight of Kurtis Guthrie celebrating a superb goal was something to behold at the Weston Homes Community Stadium.

It was typical of Guthrie to mark his first league appearance in more than ten months in such a spectacular manner.

It served as a reminder – if one were needed – of the forward’s undoubted quality and how much the U’s have missed his goals and overall influence since he first suffered his ankle injury back in February, 2017.

When Guthrie’s season was so cruelly cut short against Hartlepool United, he was at the top of his game and oozing confidence having hit 12 goals, that season.

It might take a little while for him to return to such heights on a consistent basis, given the length of time he has been out.

But how profitable it would be for both club and player if he could reproduce those electric performances, between now and the end of the current campaign.

Reid’s ‘stupid’ act should not cloud U’s judgement

WHILE Kurtis Guthrie’s return to the starting line-up and subsequent goal was the highlight of Colchester United’s day against Cheltenham Town, Kyel Reid’s needless dismissal was undoubtedly the low point.

It was a surprising act from an experienced player, with more than 350 career appearances under his belt.

U’s head coach John McGreal admitted afterwards that Reid’s red card, the third of his professional career, proved ‘pivotal’ in his side’s 4-1 defeat and conceded that the on-loan winger had ‘let everyone down’ with his ‘stupid’ act.

But boss McGreal has also been in the game long enough himself to know that every player makes mistakes.

Reid now faces a three-match ban and might conceivably have played his final game for Colchester, with his loan spell from fellow League Two side Coventry City now having expired.

But the 30-year-old’s positive impact since his arrival at the Weston Homes Community Stadium should not be clouded by one single misdemeanour, as damaging as it undoubtedly was.

A funny old game

IT was just typical of football that barely a week after leaving Colchester United following the expiry of his contract, Sanmi Odelusi should return to his former club and score.

Odelusi came off the bench to score Cheltenham Town’s equaliser and might have completed a hat-trick after that in what was an impressive individual display, as he helped his new club put his former employers to the sword.

He admitted afterwards that it was a ‘pretty weird’ feeling playing against his ex-team-mates, so soon after training with them every day.

Odelusi never managed to score for Colchester at the Weston Homes Community Stadium – his only goal for them came in their 2-1 defeat at Notts County.

In truth, his performance on his Cheltenham debut after coming off the bench as a second-half substitute was not really in keeping with his rather unproductive short time at the U’s, where he failed to establish himself in John McGreal’s starting line-up.

He will perhaps feel he did not get the chances he deserved during his time at Colchester but was a popular member of the squad and it would be heartening to see him enjoy success at his new club.

Making a stand

JUST what is it about Colchester United and shooting towards the South Stand, these days?

Kurtis Guthrie’s fine long-range strike against Cheltenham Town came at the other end of the Weston Homes Community Stadium, in keeping with a bizarre trend that is developing at U’s home games.

The statistics show that Colchester have failed to score on 24 of the 37 occasions they have attacked towards the South Stand end.

Indeed, the last time the U’s scored at that end of the pitch was when Mikael Mandron netted for them in a 3-1 win over Crewe Alexandra, on October 28.

It is a baffling development, especially given the fact that it is in the second half of games that John McGreal’s side mostly attack that end.

Indeed, taking into account the committed and passionate support that usually comes from U’s fans at that end of the stadium, it really is a strange phenomenon.