By William Mailes
Colchester United’s relegation into SkyBet League 2 was confirmed on Saturday after they were humbled by title chasing Burton Albion.
Lucas Akins fired in a hat trick to condemn the U’s a 3-0 home defeat -their 23rd defeat of the season – and their inevitable slide through the relegation trapdoor was sealed.
Colchester are now only five goals away from conceding 100 goals this season, the most in all four of the top divisions. They have only won 9 games all season.
And to top it off, they were also beaten twice by fierce local rivals Southend United on their way to falling into the Football League’s basement division for the first time in 18 years.
Defender Alex Wynter, making his first appearance since his sickening head injury he suffered against Tottenham in the FA Cup, along with the rest of his teammates was unable to stop the red hot Akins scoring his 9th, 10th and 11th goals of Burton’s impressive campaign, as they prepare for a head to head battle for the title with Wigan Athletic.
Joe Edwards was also sent off early on for a foul on Damien McCrory, which looked harsh and became the turning point of the match.
Chairman Robbie Cowling has vowed to make sure his club returns stronger and better than ever next season.
Cowling insisted: “I want to use this energy and emotion to get better. If I didn’t, what would be the point? We didn’t get the combination quite right this year, but I’m just going to think about what I can do to make this club go on and do even better.
“As chairman, I have to ask whether we want to do well in just the short-term or in the long-term? And to me, it’s about the future. That’s the way I try to do things. We’re not a massive, great big club that don’t deserve to be in League Two. But there are great things about our club and, overall, I’m really proud of a lot of the things we’ve managed to achieve.”
Cowling gave great emphasise towards the U’s growing youth academy, and despite Saturday’s result and the way the season unfolded, youngsters Macauley Bonne and Tom Lapslie in particular received praise for their performances.
“We’ve proved in the last few years that we can produce talent,” added Cowling
“Our youth policy is something we should all be very, very proud of. For whatever reason, it gets criticised sometimes. How mad is that? Why would anyone criticise something that’s so good?
“We invest a lot of money into our youth policy but half the squad aren’t home-produced, so we’ve got to look at how we can get better in terms of the players we recruit. That’s my responsibility. I take it on the chin and have got to make sure we do better.
“We have to make sure we bring the right senior players in alongside the young ones, but there’s no doubt that there’s a lot of really good things about this club.”
Cowling was also full of praise for Colchester’s fans, which have stuck behind the team throughout a difficult season and showed their support on Saturday.
“The fans have been great and as chairman I feel responsible for everything,” he said.
“I want to do more for them but I’m not just going to do stuff in the short term to make me popular and give them one or two better days. I’m really proud of a lot of things about our club and our supporters are certainly one of those things.”
Colchester finish their season away at Barnsley, followed by a final day visit of Rochdale, before they go away for pre-season and begin preparations for life in League 2.