Happy memories of Carlisle

WE make the long trip up to Carlisle United this weekend and it’s important that we get a bit of momentum and go on a similar run to the one we went on, earlier in the season.

It’s a trip I’ve done plenty of times before and one that I don’t mind too much.

You know you have to do it and it’s a good chance for us to spend some time together on the coach, on the Friday.

Carlisle is an enjoyable place to play once you get there – the pitch is good and the stadium is decent.

I have happy memories of staying up there on the last day, a few years ago.

We lost to Carlisle at home last October when we had just had a bit of a mini-revival – they did a bit of a job on us so hopefully, we can make up for that on Saturday.

Win and clean sheet were pleasing

I THOUGHT we were outstanding against Newport County, last Saturday.

We controlled the game by and large, from start to finish.

It was relatively even in the first half but I don’t think they really threatened us and in the second half, we dominated the ball and the game.

It was very pleasing to keep a clean sheet and we’ve kept a good number of those so far, this season.

I think we’re fourth in the league for clean sheets and it sets you up with a strong platform when you get them, hopefully allowing the forward players to go and win the game for you.

We had done it a few times in November and December and it was something that we had wanted to get back, because when you defend well it gives you a good opportunity.

Ben Stevenson came on for his debut in the second half and scored our opener and I thought he showed a lot of class, in the time he was on the pitch.

I hadn’t seen a huge amount of him in training before that but I was hugely impressed with him and he looked like he was playing the game at his own tempo.

It’s a good start for him and hopefully it will give him the confidence to go on and do well for us.

Milestone moments

I WAS delighted to celebrate my 200th appearance for Colchester United, last weekend – and pick up a win and a clean sheet in the process.

My old man text me before the game and made me aware of it.

It’s gone quickly and had it not been for missing a season through injury, it would have been potentially 250 games.

I found it difficult at times during that period when I was out injured, not being able to play my part.

Joe Dunne gave me the chance to come here and help us stay up, which thankfully we did that season.

It doesn’t seem too long ago since I made my debut for Colchester and I can remember that day quite vividly, five years down the line.

I pride myself on maintaining my fitness and consistency and I take a lot from the fact that every time I’ve been fit and available for Colchester in the league, I’ve played.

That’s something for myself and I don’t mind if that goes under the radar.

IT was also a big milestone for our physio Tony Flynn, last weekend.

It was his 1,000th Football League game against Newport County and I couldn’t have more respect for him and what he has achieved in the game and for him as a man.

He’s a fantastic physio and to have had 1,000 games makes him one of the best physios around and he’s great to have around the place.

Beany's celebrations were something else!

MY old U’s team-mate Marcus Bean has never really been renowned for his goalscoring ability.

So I was as surprised as anyone to see him score the winner for Wycombe Wanderers against Carlisle United deep into stoppage-time with a left foot dipping volley from the edge of the box.

In all honesty, it would have been better for us had Carlisle held on for a draw.

But I couldn’t help but be pleased for Beany and I loved watching his celebrations!

He ran almost the full length of the pitch to celebrate with his parents…but they had already left!

Kins will keep motoring on

IT was a busy transfer deadline day for us last week and along with the new arrivals, it also saw my pal Lewis Kinsella leave and join Aldershot Town.

One minute you find yourself in the team and the next you don’t and that’s football.

Kins made a great start when he first came to Colchester and was in the team every week but then he got his injury which coincided with the change of formation shape that was so successful for us.

It made it difficult for him to get back into the side and that’s part and parcel of football.

He’s competitive and tenacious and that was the way he was taught to play his football at Aston Villa.

You know that he’ll give 110 per cent for the cause and not hold back and that’s the way he is.

I’ve regularly shared a car with both Kins and Kane Vincent-Young for training and we’ve built up a good friendship.

I’m sure we’ll be competing against each other on the golf course very soon!

Checkatrade Trophy divides opinion

IT was quite surreal to see our League Two rivals Lincoln City pit their wits against Chelsea’s under-21 side in the Checkatrade Trophy semi-final, the other night.

It was interesting to see the two styles come up against each other and it would have been great experience for the Chelsea youngsters.

It gives them the opportunity to experience what it’s like on a matchday.

The Checkatrade Trophy as a competition has fans and it also has people that don’t like it so much.

But the way I see it, it’s an opportunity for League One and League Two sides like Lincoln to have a day out at Wembley and potentially win a bit of silverware, which can’t be sniffed at.

Conte has the Blues

IT’S all going on at my old club Chelsea.

I feel a bit sorry for the manager because he probably feels that he’s not been backed in the transfer market.

Chelsea were incredible last year when they won the Premier League title and when that happens, you need to give the manager the chance to boost the squad.

But after what happened with Diego Costa and other players not coming in, it’s made for an unhappy camp.

I think it’s more beneficial for Antonio Conte to stay but I don’t know the internal goings on at the club and sometimes, it can be past the point of a return.

Olympics will be intriguing

THE Winter Olympics start in Korea today and I’ll be taking some of the action in on TV, in the coming days.

I always enjoy watching different sports, especially when competitors get a chance to win a medal at the end of it.

There’s also the prospect of watching North Korea and South Korea compete together, in the ice hockey.

Sympathising with Shilts

SO England’s legendary goalkeeper Peter Shilton has asked Twitter users whether he should meet Diego Maradona when the Argentinian comes to the UK, later this year.

Shilts says he has never received an apology from Maradona after his controversial Hand of God goal for Argentina at the 1986 World Cup, in Mexico.

As a goalkeeper, there have certainly been goals that I’ve been aggrieved about over the years but I can’t remember anything like that one happening to me and certainly not with that much at stake.

It would certainly be an interesting conversation, to see how it pans out.

Goalkeepers hate conceding goals especially controversial one, so I can understand Shilts’ attitude.

That goal caused so much controversy at the time and left so many people aggrieved.

I feel aggrieved now and I wasn’t even born in 1986!