Where We Are
Wednesday night’s win over Walsall came as a much needed boost to a team that was losing confidence by the game and drifting alarmingly towards the relegation zone. The win has cast a different light over February’s poor run, as a necessary period of transition to post-Leon Clarke Coventry City. Whilst Sunday’s draw with Shrewsbury showed that we could keep a clean sheet, Wednesday’s victory over the Saddlers showed that we could create and score chances.
There’s no time to rest as a defeat this afternoon to Colchester could see us slip to just 3 points above the relegation zone. A win today is just as vital as the last two performances in order to keep our heads above water. With two tricky, but winnable, away matches ahead these are the games that the team needs to target to gain those much needed points ahead of what looks to be a difficult April schedule.
Wednesday also provided answers to some key team selection issues. Petrasso, set to return to QPR this coming Friday, provided an brilliant assist and seems likely to continue to start ahead of Carl Baker on the right of midfield. Mark Marshall’s pace will always be a threat but given Blair Adams’s decent cameo in midfield, Pressley could be tempted to play the more defence minded Adams in what could be a testing away trip. The main dilemma will be whether to pick Chuba Akpom, who provided on Wednesday, or Nathan Delfouneso, who scored on Wednesday, although I gather that Delfouneso is still far from match-fit.
Last Time We Met
In what was probably one of Coventry’s best performances of the season, Colchester were shrugged aside at Sixfields by a 2-0 scoreline which should have been much higher. Colchester are a team that will provide happy memories in particular for Callum Wilson who scored his first goal for Coventry against the U’s back in March last year.
It should be noted though that both sides will be vastly different to the two who faced each other back in September. Coventry’s changes have been well documented on this website. Colchester though are a different outfit largely due to the fact that they’ll be able to pick a fully fit first XI for this afternoon’s game which will give them a much bigger threat.
How Are They Doing?
With largely a full compliment of players for most of this season, Colchester have been firmly ensconced in mid-table. Joe Dunne’s side have taken a few notable scalps, most memorably in beating Sheffield United at Brammall Lane back at the start of the season. In recent weeks the Essex club have struggled for wins which has seen them slide dangerously towards the drop zone, albeit with a few games in hand.
Former Arsenal youngsters Sanchez Watt and Craig Eastmond are key players for the U’s. Sanchez Watt, who missed the game back in September, is a pacey winger/forward and will be a threat running directly at our full-backs. Craig Eastmond is nominally a defensive midfielder but is robust and tidy on the ball so can play a box-to-box role at this level of football and will test the confidence and form of John Fleck and Conor Thomas.
In addition former Chelsea youngster Sam Walker has been an impressive presence in goal for Colchester. A young player with plenty still to learn but he played a strong part in keeping the score down back at Sixfields. Another player who was quietly impressive last time we met was their centre-forward Jabo Ibehre who is their top scorer this season with 6. Ibehre is a physical and brutish centre-forward who provided their main attacking outlet at Sixfields, coming closest to grabbing the game’s opening goal for the U’s.
Elsewhere it’s a case of either grizzled veterans or inexperienced youth to plug the gaps in the side. Alex Gilbey, is a box-to-box midfielder who can play out wide and has attracted interest from Championship clubs after coming through Colchester’s academy. Similarly Drey Wright is a winger who’s been trying to establish himself in the Colchester first-team. Finally it should be noted that former Sky Blues strikers Freddie Sears and Clinton Morrison are amongst Colchester’s ranks these days.
Colchester are simply not the team that rolled over for us at Sixfields, this is a side with good players for this league in most areas of the pitch and at home they’ll be extremely competitive. They possess the kind of threats in pace and physicality that could cause us, as well as most other League One sides, problems. This is a tough away fixture and it will be a test for this nascent Leon Clarke-less side.
I predict that we will draw 2-2 with Colchester.