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Archived News from November 2002

2nd November 2002 15:02

Audio interview with Steve Whitton from BBC Essex (RealPlayer needed)

Whitton Gobsmacked By Defensive Disaster
Colchester United boss Steve Whitton admitted he was left 'gobsmacked' at the U's defending on Friday night, saying the display at Mansfield was the worst of the season.

Looking tired and heavy legged – especially in the second half – the visitors were taken to pieces by the Stags' Iyseden Christie and Whitts told the official website after the match that he found it hard to believe that his team had been so easily beaten by an opposition he regarded as 'not a good side'.

He said: “We've been left asking what happened to our defence and it's something we're absolutely gobsmacked about. We have spoken many times about how well we've defended this season and I think that tonight has to be just about the worst.

“You look at the paper tomorrow and see that Christie has murdered us on his own. They're not a good side, but you cant play against any team and give them chances like that – they'll punish you.”

The game saw an explosive first half with five goals scored, one disallowed and the woodwork hit by the U's Kevin Rapley. Having praised Mansfield keeper Kevin Pilkington for three first class saves in the opening forty-five minutes, the U's boss defended his second half substitutions.

The 183 travelling fans were frustrated to see the impressive Rapley withdrawn shortly after the break, but Whitton believed it was the right decision to make, not only from what he had seen in the first half but also with the games catching up with some of his players.

He added: “We put Justin and Dean on for a bit of pace up front and to turn their defenders around. We should have scored straight after the substitutions, but they've gone right down the other end and scored a goal that showed us to be so very naïve at the back. Simon should have come out and Whitey should have dealt with it, but after that it's game over.

“We spoke about it at half time and because they were slow at the back, we thought we'd put a bit of pace on. Raps and Scotty have worked their socks off again and two games in a week caught up for them. It was the right decision at the time, and although it didn't work tonight, it doesn't make it the wrong decision. That's what you're judged on, so we have to hold our hands up for that.”
Keith: 'There Can Be No Excuses'
U's goalscorer Joe Keith was left rueing a terrible evening at Mansfield – but refused to make excuses for a poor display at Field Mill.

Many of the Colchester United players were left looking heavy legged as the game wore on on Friday night, as the U's completed their third game in a week. It appeared that playing 75 minutes with ten men on Tuesday night had caught up with them, but Keith was reluctant to blame that for a disappointing game.

He told the official website: “I don't want to make excuses. We're professional footballers, we play every day and we should be fit enough to play on pitches like this. It's only 90 minutes work at the end of the day!

“It's been a terrible evening for us, having come here with high hopes and a four game unbeaten run. They're bottom of the league, but we've been just destroyed by one player.”

Like manager Steve Whitton, Keith felt the U's had a chance going in at the break just one goal down. But, as part of a back four to see four goals go past them, he held his hands up to an awful display at the back, which gave the visitors a mountain to climb.

“At 3-2, it seemed that every time we went forward, we felt that we could score,” Joe continued. “But when you defend like that, you're not going to win games and it has to be sorted before the next game.

“There were too many straight balls and changing the two forwards at the same time left the team a bit disjointed. It just became a slog in the end and that's what they want, we don't want to be battling but playing the game that we do so well.”

And Keith believes it will need to be sorted before next week's home game against Bristol City: “It is always one of the hardest games of the season and I look forward to it, because I always end up testing myself against one of the best players in the division, Scott Murray. It's a big game for us and we've been left with plenty to think about tonight.”


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