No classic

Colchester United’s stalemate with Morecambe was not the worst spectacle ever to be witnessed at the Weston Homes Community Stadium – but it was certainly not the finest.

Defences were on top and the 0-0 draw will not be remembered as a classic encounter, by any stretch of the imagination.

Despite the lack of goals, Jim Bentley felt it was quite an entertaining game.

“People might look at goalmouth action but I thought it had a bit of everything,” said the Morecambe boss, who was naturally the happier of the two managers after the points were shared.

There was certainly plenty of mutual respect between the two respective managers afterwards, with Bentley complimentary about Colchester and their players and his opposite number John McGreal praising the visitors’ disciplined performance.

Perhaps that is why both sides ended up cancelling each other out, in the end.

Paying the penalty

Are Colchester United hard done by in the penalty stakes?

The U’s were adamant that they should have been given a spot-kick in the closing stages of their 0-0 draw with Morecambe yesterday, after Aaron McGowan appeared to handle a shot in the area.

U’s head coach John McGreal reflected ruefully afterwards that the fact that referee Lee Collins chose not to award them a penalty did not surprise him, given their barren track record in that department during his reign.

Colchester have had only one penalty in the league so far this season, converted by Sammie Szmodics in their 3-1 defeat at Cheltenham Town last weekend.

The U’s were awarded just five spot-kicks in the whole last season and while luck plays its part for all sides during the course of any campaign, it does seem as though they have been unfortunate not to have been given more penalties given the amount of valid appeals they have had.

Striking a balance

Colchester United’s clean sheet against Morecambe was their third in their last four League Two games.

Their run of one defeat in nine matches in the league has been based on a solid defensive platform which has seen them keep an impressive five clean sheets in their last eight league fixtures.

The U’s are a much harder side to beat these days but at the other end of the pitch, they have now failed to score in three of their last four games at the Weston Homes Community Stadium following their 0-0 home draw with the Shrimps.

Their attacking enterprise was limited until Drey Wright and Kyel Reid came off the bench in the final stages and added some skill and zest in the final third, after the U’s changed their shape.

The absence of experienced Doug Loft, who had not trained for the majority of last week due to a calf injury, seemed to limit Colchester’s creativity in the centre of the park where they fielded two holding midfielders.

They will need to be more inventive against Lincoln City on Tuesday night if they are to secure the win they desire.

But striking the perfect balance between strong defending and potent attacking is the objective of managers up and down the country and McGreal is no different.

Test of credentials

Having just played three of League Two’s bottom sides – and taken seven points from a possible nine against them – Colchester United now face a somewhat trickier run of fixtures.

The U’s home game against Lincoln City begins a sequence of four matches against teams who currently reside above them in the table.

After hosting the Imps on Tuesday night, John McGreal’s side then face leaders Notts County, Exeter City and Swindon Town in quick succession, prior to the busy festive schedule.

It is an important time for them and they will go into the games with confidence, having embarked on a five-game unbeaten league run and kept three clean sheets in their last four games.

Nevertheless, Colchester’s promotion credentials will be a given a stern examination in the coming weeks and how they emerge from this upcoming period will provide an indication of how capable they are of launching a sustained challenge, in 2018.

Drumming up support

The crowd of 2,872 that turned up to watch Colchester United’s 0-0 draw with Morecambe was their lowest Saturday league attendance at the Weston Homes Community Stadium since the U’s last home game against the same opponents, in October 2016.

But the backing of the South Stand contingent who did turn up won the praise of John McGreal, in the aftermath of the goal-less encounter.

“It’s terrific support and it does take them a long way,” said the U’s boss, who knows how influential fans can be in helping his side get over the line in tight games.

McGreal also publically called for the return of the South Stand drum, which has been absent over recent games.

He will certainly be hoping his team can build up more of a rhythm than they managed against Morecambe when they host Lincoln City on Tuesday night.

The Imps are set to bring around several hundred fans to the game for their first visit to the Community Stadium.

And with Danny Cowley’s side sitting a point above them in the League Two table the U’s will need to be in tune both on and off the pitch, if they are to get back to hitting the right notes in front of their own supporters.