I have read Phil Parkinson's comments and reactions to last nights defeat and I have to say I think I was watching a different game. He says we had four or five clear chances to take the lead before half-time; we didn't - we had one half-chance that Bailey slammed wide. He went on to say that 3-o "totally flattered" the U's. Again I have to disagree - they looked good value for their three goal margin.
Parkinson blamed three individual mistakes for the goals and that might be true enough but Colchester dominated the play and created far more than we did. We started with the same team that took on Exeter and that meant Spring and Racon in the middle and that's where the problems started for us. Spirng was completely anonymous and I actually didn't notice him touch the ball until we were two nil down, well after the half hour mark. As a consequence, every Racon touch was a tackle and he isn't built to compete here.
Colchester are a huge side and crosses into Burton looked more pointless than usual. He stood no chance against their bears at the back and with no middle, Sam and Bailey were only really ploughing the channels. Jonjo Shelvey was completely out of sorts and I lost count of the number of times he flailed his arms in frustration with himself.
Colchester look like they can only play one way; neat triangles and forward play on the flanks in order to generate crosses for the monsters Platt and Odejayi bearing down on goal. To be fair to them they play well as a pair and gave Llera major problems all night. I say Llera because it was invariably him who was left to contest everything in the air, while Dailly appeared to be doing the interceptions and distribution from the back.
The first goal was a simple own goal and a misunderstanding. A harmless forward ball that was too long for the Colchester front men fell between Llera and the advancing Elliot. Not sure if there was a call but Llera headed back right to where Elliot had been standing but he was now forward left and the bounce beat his despairing attempts to prevent it going in. Llera was quick to haul his keeper up and thump the ball back down in a move that looked like we were going to shake this mistake off. Unfortunately, Colchester scored with their next attack it looked a lost cause from there on. With Charlton pressing forward, Shelvey was caught in possession and the ball was pumped downfield to the monsters who split around Llera. Platt headed on and Odejayi galloped on to the ball and smashed a cross shot past the stranded Elliot.
The Charlton support was relatively quiet all night and there was a strange atmosphere in the visiting end, not helped by the continual arrival of fans who had obviously been held up in traffic jams that had hampered the journey from late afternoon fire in Thames Road, Erith to heavy traffic on the A12. The mood was not helped by the two goal deficit and within twenty minutes of the restart it was 3-0 as Elliot and Bailey collided going for the same ball leaving Odejayi to pass in the third.
Minutes after this and obviously too late, the first substituion saw the obvious introduction of McLeod for the very poor Matthew Spring but the second was a dire decision in my mind to bring Sodje on for Llera. It was a move that pointed the finger clearly at Llera and you knew he knew it as he threw his headguard down in disgust after leaving the field. Sodje may be a safer option but we needed to change things in midfield and upfront to get the game away from our defence. Sodje is also disappearing off with Nigeria for a fortnight as I understand it, so a baffling decision when Llera will presumably be called upon again shortly. The fickle Charlton following probably didn't help with a chorus of "Sodje, Sodje" after the third goal.
That was enough for our car-load and we had seen enough, deciding to head back in the hope of a late curry to salvage something from the evening. To cap it all I was pulled over by the Essex constabulary on the way back. Assuming a speeding fine I was surprised to be told it was because I had no MOT (which I got two months ago!) and was also breathalysed. A small moment of panic was allayed with a "Pass" and we were quickly on our way and managed the Curry house despite driving the rest of the way within the speed limit.
On reflection, the thorny question of "what's Plan B" will be resonating again today. We didn't have one yesterday and to my mind that's down to the fact that we don't have the front men to play two together. I wouldn't be at all surprised if step into the loan market quite soon to address this.
Leeds looks like a mountain to climb on Saturday but they were unconvincing again yesterday and lost their keeper and Snodgrass last night in their 1-1 home draw with Carlisle. We need to clutch at all the straws we can this week.