Assistant manager Gav Skelton was on pre-match media duties this morning, as we prepare for the trip to Bramall Lane on Tuesday night, so we took the opportunity to have a quick look back at the weekend, with the new season now well and truly under way.
“It was a good performance, it felt pleasing at the time, and I felt the same when I watched it back,” he said. “It was a shame we couldn’t get over the line and take one of our opportunities, but we were pleased with the overall performance.
“We had to deal with a couple of things leading up to the game so in terms of fitness and how we went about it we were pleased.
“It obviously isn’t ideal when situations like we had with Aaron [Hayden] then Zach [Clough] arise, as they did, but I don’t think it affected us too much.
“There’s always something going on in football, you can have your best performance when there’s been carnage leading up to the game, and your worst performances when your preparation has been perfect. You just have to deal with what’s put in front of you.
“Joe Riley stepped in and did really well and it was a good team performance, so no excuses. We didn’t take the opportunities when we got them, their keeper played really well which often happens when someone comes back to their old club.
“On another day we could have come away with three points.”
And on the interaction with over 6,000 fans in the stadium, he added: “I hope they went away feeling positive. It was great to have them back, and they stayed with us and supported us right until the end.
“Hopefully the extra ones who came down have seen enough to want to come back, and next time they come down we’ll obviously be doing our best to get a win to make them keep wanting to be here with us.
“The atmosphere it creates is special. Sometimes when we didn’t have crowds you can’t really feel where the game is at if that makes sense. We had a bit of a lull after half time but in the last 25 minutes or so we started to get back on top and you could feel that building from the crowd.
“The fans feel how the game is going which makes the emotions higher. When there’s no crowd it’s easier to be more level. We were disappointed after the game even though the crowd responded well at full time and clapped us off.
“I think because the crowd were behind us so much we really felt like we were on top which made us more disappointed we didn’t get the goal.
“You could tell how much they wanted to get behind us and it really does get the hairs on the back of your neck standing up. The Paddock were in a really good mood as well on Saturday. I’m sure that will change but a lot of it is tongue in cheek and it’s all part of the fun.”
A big part of the pre-season preparation was the gradual build up of fitness and match time, culminating in another high energy display on Saturday.
“The fitness levels were good at the end of the game, which was important,” he agreed. “I think it can sometimes get overlooked that you have to be sharp at the start of games, but in the first 25 minutes we really looked like we did when we were at our best last year.
“We started games well with a good pace and sharpness last year and we did that again on Saturday. How we finished the game showed we had good endurance as well as sharpness.
“If you look at the chances we created and the efforts on goal, we weren’t far off. Their keeper got man of the match and that happens when you’re up against your old club. Probably his best two games for Colchester have been against us, to be fair.
“He gets credit for the saves he made, and the defenders did their best to keep us out, so you can overlook just how good the attacking play was at times when you haven’t got the goal to go with it. On another day you score two or three with those chances, but that’s football.
“Attacking wise we have a good crop of players who we feel can do that. Obviously there’s Tristan Abrahams and Lewis Alessandra who started on Saturday, and we have Manny Mampala, Zach Clough and Sam Fishburn, backed up by some good attack-minded players, so we’re ok in that area.
“As we’ve said a few times, of course we keep looking, because you always want to add if the right player comes along, but we have good players there at the moment.”
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