Karl and Clinton given fond farewells
COLCHESTER boss Joe Dunne was relieved his side could bid farewell to veteran stars Karl Duguid and Clinton Morrison with relegation fears put to bed following victory at Walsall.
The U’s were all but mathematically safe beforehand but survival was rubber-stamped when Walsall’s James Chambers’ clearance hit Craig Eastmond and flew into the net.
It was a freak goal but that mattered little to boss Dunne as U’s legend Duguid, retiring after 476 appearances, and departing striker Morrison enjoyed happy swansongs.
Both were unable to mark their final appearances with a goal but Morrison did the next best thing, a late goal-line clearance.
And Dunne said: “All season we’ve played well and come away from games with nothing. If that word ‘luck’ wants to appear on the last day of the season so be it.
“Clinton has been very unlucky for us – he was asking at the end why he couldn’t score a goal like Craig’s. But I said to him that what he did at the end there was just as good as scoring a goal.
“He’s one of the best pros I’ve ever worked with and we wish him the very best of luck.
“Karl had the card out last night for the timing of the substitutions so he was always going to play the last 20 minutes. But we’re delighted he played as he’s been a fan- tastic servant to the club. We’ve had a positive start to the season, a positive mid-season and a positive end.”
Colchester’s Sam Walker was the busier of the two keepers in the first half but opposite number Richard O’Donnell produced the best stop to turn aside Gavin Massey’s curler.
After the break, Walker brilliantly tipped Adam Chambers’ near-post drive wide before Eastmond’s slice of luck won it for Colchester. Walsall almost rescued a point but Walker produced an excellent block to foil Andy Butler and Amadou Bakayoko’s strike was cleared off the line by Morrison.
No League One side has scored fewer goals at home this season – 21 – and that is Walsall boss Dean Smith’s summer priority.
He said: “This result culminates an incredible last six weeks where we’ve dominated games but failed to kill teams off – and it was such a bizarre goal for them to score.
“I’m really looking forward to next season. I have been for the last few weeks and we know what we need to recruit.
“We’ve got funds that we can use to go and recruit for next season and hopefully mount another challenge.”
STAR MAN SAM WALKE