Sam Walker has played an important role in Colchester United’s improved defensive solidity, over recent weeks.

But the reliable U’s goalkeeper has revealed one of the main reasons for his impressive form between the sticks is his blossoming alliance with goalkeeper coach, Rene Gilmartin.

Having spent four-and-a-half seasons working with Ademola Bankole prior to the popular Nigerian’s departure from the club in the summer, Walker had to adjust to liaising with a new man at the helm following the arrival of Gilmartin – nicknamed Reg - from Watford as a player-coach.

Helping Colchester record three clean sheets in their last five games – and concede just twice in that time – is evidence that the partnership is working.

Walker said: “Reg has come in and he’s been brilliant.

“I’ve been really pleased with this season and it’s been good for me to have him come in and have a new voice and a new set of eyes looking at me.

“I think we’ve been doing some really good work and he’s been a massive factor in how my form has been, this season.

“We work on it day in, day out, always analysing and assessing where I’m at.

“We don’t dwell on things if I’ve had a good game and made some good saves – it’s always “right, well done, now what’s next”.

“We’re working hard and I feel like I’m making key saves at key times and making a contribution in other ways.

“It’s worked very quickly – we think similarly about the same things, we’re from a similar area and we’re a similar size.

“The rewards are there to see so far this season and we’ll keep working hard and doing the bits that I’ve been to get that kind of level of performance.

“To keep three clean sheets in our last five games is a really good stat, especially as we hadn’t kept any clean sheets, until then.

“It’s been really pleasing for me and the guys defensively.”

Despite only having celebrated his 26th birthday earlier this month, Walker is one of the elder statesman in the Colchester changing room.

He said: “I’ve playing with some of these guys for a long time now and I’ve seen them develop from coming into the first team as young players when I was first here to developing as men and players with 50 to 100 games under their belt.

“This club has been fantastic for me in terms of my development but it’s also been good to share that journey alongside them.

“I’m enjoying being one of the more experienced players in the changing room.”

Having helped Colchester claim four points from a possible six in their last two games away from home, keeper Walker is looking to follow that form up with another good performance at home to Crewe Alexandra tomorrow.

The game will mark the return of former U’s captain Chris Porter, who was the club’s leading scorer last season before leaving to join Alex after rejecting a new contract at the Weston Homes Community Stadium.

“There’s a chance for us to build some momentum, after the two away results,” said the former Chelsea youngster.

“We’ve got some good home games coming up in November and that can be a big month for us.

“We’ve turned the corner on the road and been solid at home.

“The momentum is in our favour at the moment and it’s something we need to continue.

“It was a really positive week for us, after the disappointment of the Carlisle home game.

“We’ve really turned the corner on the road which is what we needed and it was a long time coming.

“We’ve looked difficult to beat and I think that’s been the biggest factor of the change really and that’s come down to an inner determination from all of us to stop the rut on the road and turn it around.”