JOHN Cofie prepares for matches by watching footage of the game’s finest finishers in action.
But the fixture which spawned his first senior goal in Sheffield United colours is unlikely to feature in one of the teenager striker’s magnificent video montages after Danny Wilson berated the visitors for snatching a draw from the jaws of victory.
Wilson, usually among the most measured managers in the business, was seething with rage having seen United’s classiest performance of the season so far wrecked by a combination of profligacy and careless defending.
That it was Clinton Morrison, previously of Sheffield Wednesday, who hauled a Colchester side seemingly destined for a hiding back on level terms only rubbed salt into the wound.
“The manager has got every right to be angry,” Cofie acknowledged. “I‘d much prefer to have taken three points than to have scored.
“I don’t blame him for being mad.”
Cofie’s partnership with fellow new signing Neil Blackman could hold the key to United’s hopes of confirming their status as favourites for promotion. Both are precious young talents capable of wreaking havoc among even the division’s most obdurate defences.
But, on Saturday’s evidence, talent still with plenty to learn.
Having converted one chance any of his footballing heroes would be glad to claim as their own, Cofie was then guilty of spurning another likely to grace those blooper DVDs which flood the Christmas market.
In between, though, were the flashes of brilliance which suggest the on-loan striker has a bright future ahead.
“I like to watch clips of people like Danny Wellbeck, Didier Drogba and Wayne Rooney on YouTube,” Cofie, whose looping 30-yard-yard shot left Mark Cousins rooted to the spot, said. “I watch how they finish and how they get in the box.
“That’s how I try and get in the mood. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. But that’s what I do anyway.
“If I keep watching great players and practising hard then hopefully I’ll keep improving.”
“Nick likes to watch his own performances to see what he’s done right and what he’s done wrong,” Cofie added. “That is obviously the best thing for him.
“Not everyone always gets along in a football team but we happen to be really good mates on and off the pitch, which can only help us play together.
“I’ve known Nick for quite a while before I even came here. We’ve seen each other out and about in Manchester a few times when we’re having dinner and we also share the same agency.
“Every pre-season they organise a personal trainer for us before we go back to work with our clubs and so I’ve got to know him really well from those sessions.”
Although only the width of a post prevented Colchester from taking the lead after Morrison’s dramatic intervention, if United hearts had been as black as Wilson’s mood then they would have won at a canter.
Instead, for the second time in the space of a week, they were guilty of being terribly wasteful in the final third.
Tony McMahon saw a header tipped onto the crossbar in stoppage time having earlier found the side-netting with a clever free-kick and gone close to floating a another long range effort beyond Cousins.
Blackman also saw a shot saved by the Colchester goalkeeper while David McAllister was inches away from depositing the
ball into the back of the net following an intricate interchange involving Stephen Quinn and Kevin McDonald.
Quinn, who Wilson fears could be lured away from Bramall Lane before Friday’s transfer deadline, was the instigator of most of United’s best moves and, delivering the type of display likely to have Championship scouts salivating, could also have ended the afternoon with a brace of goals.
One low drive, having weaved his way into the Colchester penalty area, rebounded off the unfortunate Cofie’s heels while Cousins foiled him moments after Morrison had pounced following Marcus Bean’s touch on Anthony Wordsworth’s corner.
“The newspaper headlines have said I expect to lose him,” Wilson insisted. “What I meant was that I hope Stephen stays because he’s been the hub of all our play.
“There have been no developments.”
With United exploiting the lack of pace at the heart of Colchester’s rearguard, Freddie Sears’ reluctance to track back also had Wilson’s counterpart, John Ward, shaking his head in frustration.
However, Colchester’s vastly experienced manager was left breathing a sigh of relief when Cofie inexplicably failed to turn home McDonald’s centre from point-blank range.
“That‘s a point gained for us rather than two lost,” Ward said. “Because, as we saw out there, Sheffield United are going to be strong contenders.”
But substitute Andy Bond nearly completed an improbably comeback when his angled drive cannoned off the woodwork before rolling agonisingly along Mark Howard’s line.
Cofie, who spent a brief period with Old Trafford‘s sister club, Royal Antwerp, before arriving in South Yorkshire, said: “I should have scored another. It was a bad miss but stuff like that happens. But the more I play the better I should get.
“Nick has been around a bit longer than me and so I listen to his advice.
“We’ve got good players here and in time, if we stay focused, which we will, then we can give defenders hell.”