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And number 13 will play......................
at 18:04 19 Oct 2018

The draw for the 1st Round proper of the F A Cup will be made on Monday.

The Super U's are number 13 and will join the 32 non-league sides, plus those from leagues one and two in the draw.

Matches to be played the weekend of 9th November.

Prize money for the 1st round winners is now £36K

A decent Cup run would be viable both financially and for raising the U's profile

Up the U's
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Shrimps to be netted by the Super U's at the Globe Arena
at 16:25 19 Oct 2018

JMc takes his charges on the road for games at Morecambe and Grimsby on Saturday afternoon and Tuesday night respectively.

Buoyed by an impressive and deserved victory against a decent Crawley team, the Super U’s will fancy their chances of back to back away victories, before the season defining game against leaders Lincoln the following Saturday.

However, neither Morecambe nor Grimsby will be pushovers. I have been to the last two Aways games at Morecambe and Grimsby. The games at the Globe Arena finished in draws 1-1 and 0-0 whilst the games at Blundell Park saw a narrow defeat 1-0 and a 2-2 draw. In fact, we must go back to 1979 for the last away win at Grimsby. So, caution required.

Records of course are there to be broken and this season our Away from has been strong, so much so that I am expecting back to back wins. That will then give us the confidence to secure a home win against the Imps.

Anyway, back to Saturday and Jim Bentley’s side who sit 17th in the table with 13 points from 13 games. A useful 2-0 victory at Carlisle has also given them confidence and they will be keen to dent our promotion hopes. I think that we will be too strong for the Shrimps, but there can be no complacency on Saturday.

Table:

Lincoln 13 31
Exeter 13 27
Newport 13 27
MK Dons 13 24
Tranmere 13 23
COL U 13 22
Stevenage 13 21
FGR 13 20

One thing is certain, if we are to close the gap at the top then victory is a necessity at the Globe.

But who does JMc select. There has been much talk about Dillon Barnes being “rested” last week and I reckon that Rene Gilmartin may well play on Saturday, but then who plays under the lights on Tuesday and in the six pointer against Lincoln.

Harry Pell suffered a calf injury last week, but will he be fit to play alongside Tom Lapslie or will Brandon Comley play after his game for Montserrat which they won 1-0 against Belize.

I reckon if they are all fit JMc will opt for an unchanged team at the Globe with:

Gilmartin

Jackson Eastman Prosser Vincent-Young

Lapslie Pell Senior

Szmodics Norris Nouble

Subs:

Barnes Kent Kensdale Wright Dickenson Collins Mandron

The weather at Morecambe is set to be a mix of sunshine with occasional cloud and 15c. For those seeking a paddle in the sea, the low tide on Saturday will be at 4:09pm, so plenty of beach walking required.

If Fish "n" Chips is your desired meal, then I can recommend Atkinson’s in Albert Road, a stone throw from the sea front and close to the ground. Stumbled upon it last season and they did not disappoint.

Battered only by Papa’s on Cleethorpes Pier, to enjoy Tuesday evening!!!!

I have persuaded my youngest son to join me on Saturday and we will be setting off early to avoid the delays caused by the A66 Roadworks.

Safe journey to the travelling faithful.

Enjoy the game. Let’s pot those Shrimps!

Up the U’s

[Post edited 20 Oct 9:25]
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Red Devils to be vanquished by the Super U's on saturday
at 14:02 12 Oct 2018

Following an excellent victory over local fiends Southend United in the Checkatrade on Tuesday evening, JMc and his charges entertain the Red Devils of Crawley Town on Saturday at the JobServe in what is now a must win game.

Must win because two recent sloppy defeats to Bury and Stevenage have plunged the U’s to eighth place in the table. The Stevenage game was particularly hard to take because the game hinged on an appalling decision by the referee to award a penalty to the home side when the game was evenly poised, worse still the offence was clearly committed outside of the penalty area.

Anyway, we move swiftly on and it is up to the U’s to repair the damage by securing a victory against 9th placed Crawley, managed by Gabriele Cioffi.

Table:

Lincoln 12 28
Exeter 12 24
Newport 12 24
MK Dons 12 21
Stevenage 12 21
FGR 12 20
Tranmere 12 20
COL U 12 19
Crawley 12 19
Carlisle 12 19
Bury 12 18

With just over a quarter of the season now played we are 5 points behind where we should be, accepting that 2 points per game is the average required to secure promotion (in an automatic spot), we can afford precious few defeats and must prevail in our home games to make the Stadium a fortress.

It is of course not all doom and gloom; the U’s have shown a freedom of expression in the attacking third and in Luke Norris have a superlative striker capable of scoring 20+ goals this season. Harry Pell has also shown that he was an impressive signing and can weigh in with valuable goals. Aaron Collins is the player most badly affected by the success of the team in that his chances after an impressive debut at Meadow Lane have been sorely limited. His goal against our Essex neighbours was typical of what he is capable of. Mikael Mandron remains an enigma, he has ability, works hard for the team, but fails to convert chances into goals.

So, what does JMc do this week with team selection:

I reckon he should go with 4,3,3:

Barnes

Jackson Prosser Kent Vincent-Young

Lapslie Pell Dickenson

Szmodics Collins Norris

Subs:

Gilmartin Barnes (A) Kensdale Gondoh Senior Mandron Eastman

Brandon Comley is once again on International duty with his brother James playing for Mon tserrat against Belize in the CONCACAF group. Whilst closer to home Luke Norris will be playing against his brother in law Lewis Young whilst leading out mascot Reggie (his nephew) who will be sporting the U’s kit with “Uncle” on the back. I am sure that once 3pm comes around there will be no family sentiments for 90 minutes.

Norris himself was nominated for another award this month, with the Bristol Street Motors Player of the Month Award, but sadly missed out to Lincoln’s Pett. He will not mind if he scores another couple of goals this weekend.

The league is proving to be a close affair and there are some intriguing fixtures this Saturday; Newport v Stevenage, Port Vale v Lincoln, Exeter v Swindon and Notts County v Oldham. Remember that the Magpies are now showing the form that they are capable of. Another reason why we need the three points on Saturday.

Weather for Colchester is set to be a warm 23C but cloudy. The good news for U’s fans is that it will be dry after the deluge at Stevenage last week.

Enjoy the game.

Up the U’s


[Post edited 12 Oct 16:02]
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Danger that the U's could now qualify for the next round of the Checkatrade
at 22:12 9 Oct 2018

All teams now have three points after tonight's games.

Good to see Frankie Kent back and scoring.

1500 at the JobServe with 500 from Scummend.

Stevenage lost 8-0 at home to Charlton - very interesting result!

Bring on Crawley at the weekend

Up the U's
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Super U's to be right on the money, money, money at Broadhall Way
at 22:40 5 Oct 2018

Matchday 11 sees the Super U’s travel to Broadhall Way (aka The Lamex Stadium) to challenge Stevenage Borough led by Dino Maamria. Last season we provided the opposition for Dino’s first match for the Boro and as both sides have made a strong start to this campaign it should be another tightly contested game.

League Two Top Ten:

Lincoln 11 25
Exeter 11 23
Newport 11 23
COL U 11 19
FGR 11 19
MK Dons 11 18
Stevenage 11 18
Oldham 11 17
Bury 11 18
Tranmere 11 18

I will try and resist the temptation to once again bring out all the ABBA puns, but they are such good value for this fixture!

One thing is certain, the “bad boy of football” Kurtis Guthrie, who played 49 times for the U’s scoring 13 goals is likely to line up against JMc’s team tomorrow after a move to the Boro, which has seen him score 3 goals in 11 appearances.

This will not concern JMc who has three superior strikers now, two of whom are likely to play tomorrow. I was surprised to see Eastman and Norris play Tuesday night after their respective injuries on the previous Saturday. Frankie Kent is sadly still unlikely to play but JMc will be keen to field an unchanged line up on Saturday.

Tuesday night saw a revitalised U’s take Yeovil apart and thoroughly deserve their victory. It was a shame about the consolation goal but in fairness it was a very well struck free kick. After an unbeaten away start to the season the U’s will be keen to put Stevenage to the sword

That means a starting berth for Courtney Senior over Brennan Dickenson and Tom Eastman retaining his place at the heart of the defence. It was great to see Tom Lapslie back in the centre of the park.

Team 4,3,1,2:

Barnes

Jackson Eastman Prosser Vincent-Young

Senior Pell Lapslie

Szmodics

Nouble Norris

Subs:

Gilmartin Kensdale Wright Comley Dickenson Collins Mandron

The weather at Stevenage is likely to be rain showers and 12C – pitch will be soft, but otherwise should be fine for football.

After an impressive start to the season, JMc will be keen to cement the U’s top three ambition with another Away victory. We have already played difficult games at Notts County (do not make the mistake of writing them off, they will be close to the top three at the end of the season) Mansfield, Tranmere and Oldham, who collectively are some of the more difficult away matches and we have survived them all. Stevenage will provide another tough challenge though. NB: Tranmere defeated leaders Lincoln on Tuesday night!

When all is said and done, Dino will be still exclaiming Mamma Mia at the end of the game as the Winner has taken it all and he will have met his Waterloo. For JMc the name of the game is three points in darkest Hertfordshire.

Safe journey to the travelling faithful, enjoy the game Wessex and enjoy another three points to bring us closer to the top three.

Up the U’s

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Super U's to overcome Glovers at Fortress JobServe
at 16:35 2 Oct 2018

If there are any advantages to losing at home on a Saturday (and I can’t think of any!), then at least we can put things right on the following Tuesday evening at home to the Glovers.

The table is more congested now and so it is imperative that we secure three points tonight against Darren Way’s Yeovil Town. Yeovil themselves are nursing injuries, but our only concern is to secure the victory.

Lincoln City 10 25
Newport 10 22
Exeter 10 20
Stevenage 10 18
COL U 10 16
Oldham 10 16
FGR 10 16
Bury 10 16
Swindon 10 16
Crawley 10 16
Carlisle 10 16
Yeovil 10 15
MK Dons 10 15

Even after 10 games a gap is beginning to emerge after the top three and we must keep pace with the frontrunners.

Now although we were Shaken by Bury hopefully it will have stirred us into life, albeit with a depleted team. Injuries were sustained by Frankie Kent and Tom Eastman whilst Luke Norris has an ankle injury. If there is any doubt as to their fitness, then none of them should play this evening.

Often though in the past Colchester have started players when they have been rushed back following injury. Tonight, is not a time to risk longer term problems. The squad is strong enough to cope with a minor injury crisis. JMc does have the option to recall Cameron James (currently on loan) should the need arise. Ollie Kensdale should be blooded tonight to partner Prosser. Should he opt not to play the youngster, then play three at the back and bring another youngster, Diaz Wright, into the team, he played vey well at Tranmere and would not look out of place alongside Pell and Comley.

JMc should therefore think about the following:

Barnes

Jackson Prosser Kensdale Vincent-Young

Senior Comley Pell Dickenson

Szmodics Nouble

Subs:

Ross Wright Gondoh Mandron Collins Barnes A Clampin

Weather tonight will be cloudy and 15C, the pitch looked superb on Saturday. Take the game to Yeovil early doors, exploit their injury concerns and look for an impressive home performance to bring home three more valuable points.

The weekend sees the winner take it all against Dino Maamria’s Stevenage Borough, another team who have just hit some form. Another reason to stamp some authority on the league tonight against the Glovers.

Sadly, attendances have not been brilliant this season and on Saturday, eight grounds in League Two and three grounds in the National League saw bigger attendances than Colchester. Only Burton out of all the home clubs in League one had a lower attendance.

Still never mind, enjoy the game.

Up the U’s

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Shakers to be all shook up by the Super U's
at 22:58 28 Sep 2018

JMc and his high-flying Super U’s welcome the Shakers, managed by former player Ryan Lowe to the JobServe Community Stadium on Saturday, for a vital league two match.

Last weekend the U’s were taught a lesson in the dangers of failing to see games out when in a commanding position, by allowing Oldham to secure a late point when we should have won all three. Now at the end of the season that may turn out to be a valuable point, but clearly it was two dropped at Boundary Park.

Still Bury are the new opponents who must be neutralised at Fortress JobServe. Saturday will reacquaint an old favourite from that famous 2006 promotion winning season, in the shape of Neil Danns. He scored 28 goals in 87 appearances for Colchester and was a firm favourite amongst the Colchester faithful. Bury also have the dangerous striker Jermaine Beckford on their books and at 34 years of age, he can still do damage in the lower leagues.

The table suggest that things are still tight even down to 15th place:

Lincoln 9 22
Exeter 9 19
Newport 9 19
COL U 9 16
Carlisle 9 16
Yeovil 9 15
Oldham 9 15
FGR 9 15
Swindon 9 15
Stevenage 9 15
MK Dons 9 14
Bury 9 13
Tranmere 9 13
PV 9 13
Crawley 9 13

With the Shakers and the Glovers providing successive home matches, six points must be the aim to ensure we keep within the promotion pack and should be looking to secure a top three berth.

The club have also been busy this week by announcing the opening of a pop-up bar, which will be situated next to the Hot Shots café. The Barside Army from those halcyon Layer Road days have demanded such a location since 2008 and have now been rewarded for their efforts. Let us hope that the home fans will be in celebratory mood come 4.50pm.

The welcome news that Tom Lapslie played 60 minutes for the U23’s against Maldon the other day bodes well for the future. Whilst Paul Rooney has been loaned to Bromley for a month where he has joined up with Junior who has scored six goals for his loan club so far.

JMc must decide whether to name an unchanged team or whether he should consider starting Tom Eastman in a three-man defence. I would like to see at home a 3,4,3 formation as follows:

Barnes

Eastman Prosser Kent

Jackson Pell Comley Vincent-Young

Nouble Norris Dickenson

Subs:
Ross Gondoh Szmodics Senior Collins Wright Mandron

The alternative is to play Szmodics, but leave Eastman on the bench. The onus is always on the home side to make the running and I feel a more attack minded line up must be favourite.

It may be therefore apposite to offer Collins, Szmodics and Senior game time during the match, dependent on how the scoreline is looking.

This week has seen much dry weather and sunny intervals in Durham. Colchester is due to see 15C on Saturday with mostly cloudy conditions and light winds. A pleasant autumnal day for football.

The pitch will be in pristine condition and an expectant crowd will be hoping for another home victory. The start to the season has been impressive and it must be maintained.

JMc is right to credit the players, but he has been positive in often selecting two strikers and has secured some important results. The most pleasing fact is the goal scoring which has previously been a problem, but players are all weighing in with vital goals and in Luke Norris we have a striker capable of scoring 20+ goals this season.

Enjoy the game, make some noise and Up the U’s

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Latics v Super U's - Durham's view
at 21:04 23 Sep 2018

So, another Away draw this time 3-3, the Super U’s remain unbeaten away from the JobServe Community Stadium, we remain 4th in the table, what’s not to like.

Unfortunately, we have lost ground on the top three despite picking up another useful point in a pulsating game at Boundary Park.

Yesterday I, together with my sons witnessed a fourth Away draw which though keeping us in contention, should have seen all three points return to North Essex. Forget about the 60/40 possession in favour of Bunn’s Latics or the 18 shots to 9, although we had 6 on target to their 7. It is all about game management. More of that later.

After previous trials and tribulations getting to Nottingham, Mansfield and Tranmere, I left nothing to chance avoiding the A66, M6 route and opted for the A1(M), M1 and M62 to Oldham which proved to be a wise move and we arrived at Boundary Park in very good time.

Now the impressive new North Stand is open (known as the Joe Royle stand) even though the car park is still akin to a demilitarised zone. The other major change is that Away supporters are now situated in the Chaddy end of the ground behind the goal, whereas previously we have sat in the Jimmy Frizzell stand at the opposite end of the ground. The Chaddy end is tired and has stanchions which threaten to obstruct the view. The refreshments area is poorly situated, and they ran out of Pies at half time. Although we were able to enjoy a cup of warm tea.

The pitch was looking good and the weather was dry and 11C. About the best you could hope for at Oldham in September.

Both sets of supporters had percussion amongst them and there was clearly a contest to see who could increase the decibel limit to that of a jumbo jet.

JMc (from now on I will include the Mc because McGreal has those initials on his Colchester United official clothing.) In addition to the new away shirts (camo style) and very wearable, I was sporting my new Colchester Jacket the "Calgary" with the French President’s name “Macron” on the right-hand side and the Colchester badge on the left side. Seriously the clothing is very good quality and looks impressive, not that I am a fashion guru as my son’s will testify.

JMc had confirmed an unchanged line up and substitutes which meant the starting XI was as follows:

Barnes

Jackson Prosser Kent Vincent-Young

Pell Comley Dickenson

Nouble Szmodics

Norris

Subs:
Ross Gondoh Eastman Senior Collins Wright Mandron

Oldham manager Bunn favoured lots of possession with most forward moves started by Dan Gardner who sprayed passes right and left, often overhitting the ball.

Colchester were content to soak up this possession football and then counter quickly through Comley, Pell or Dickenson.

Callum Lang saw plenty of the ball in the first half and after 11 minutes he broke down the right wing, as he approached the left-hand edge of the penalty area (as the faithful viewed it) he was tackled by Dillon Barnes who (in my view) had to come out of the penalty area and make the challenge. The partisan home support in the Joe Royle stand bayed fro a red card, but Mr Backhouse (rightly) only awarded a yellow card.

The resultant free kick was blasted high, wide and not very handsome. Justice. The home fans were still moaning when Colchester won a corner which as normal was delivered effectively by Dickenson and Luke Norris stabbed the ball home from 6 yards out. Cue great celebration from the faithful. The U’s were good value for the lead. Game management is important, all the possession in the world is not effective if you fail to convert potential chances and Colchester taught Oldham a lesson in game management.

Luke Norris is the striker that we have been looking for over the past 10 seasons (6 goals already this season). He is getting fitter every game, he is strong, muscular and has a keen eye for goal and is never afraid to strike the ball from distance. JMc must however decide where he is going to play Frank Nouble. The powerful front man is frankly lost playing wide right and having to track back when there is no need for him to really do so. Playing four at the back, Ryan Jackson takes care of the left-wing threat, whilst Brandon Comley is the defensive midfield player covering behind the adventurous Pell.

With enough strikers on the books to play a genuine two up front, Nouble and Norris would complement each other very well. I know that JMc is cautious, but we are never better than when attacking this season.

The half continued in similar vein with Colchester content to allow the Latics to boss possession in the knowledge that they could win the ball back and counter through the aforementioned Pell, Comley and the strikers.

The interval arrived, and the air of a job well done was circulating amongst the faithful. The U’s were deservedly in front and frankly comfortable. No changes for either side at half time and with the camouflage shirts attacking the Chaddy end second half we looked forward to some fluid attacking counter attacking football.

We didn’t have to wait long. Another corner was not dealt with by the Latics defence and when the ball came out to Harry Pell he despatched it from 16 yards high into the net. Cue wilder celebrations from the faithful. The goal was not dissimilar to the one he scored at Prenton Park. He certainly knows where the goal is and delights in rightly being a supporter’s favourite.

2-0 and it appeared to have knocked the stuffing out of Bunn’s loafers. However, the dangerous Surridge (on loan from Bournemouth) had different ideas. After Frank Nouble failed to challenge the ball was angled in by Taylor and Surridge had a simple tap in at the back post. 2-1 and the “Athleticos” behind the Jimmy Frizzell end at last burst into voice.

Now in previous seasons we might have conceded again, but the U’s are made of sterner stuff and some head tennis involving Nouble and Pell eventually found the ball to Norris who used his strength to muscle into the penalty are and he struck the ball through three defenders and into the net for 3-1 on 68 minutes.

I have to admit that I thought this would be game over and three more precious points at this stage. I was wrong!

The game however turned on the decision to substitute Luke Norris on 79 minutes. Clearly annoyed he stormed off. Now no one will ever really know but the momentum was with Colchester and I feel that Norris had a hattrick in him, so unless he was injured there was no need to replace him. Mika Mandron came on, so it was like for like, but suddenly the power and strength was slightly lacking in the forward line.

Worse still Oldham decided to start running at the defence and Colchester dropped deeper. Mr Backhouse also decided to penalise any challenge made by a Colchester defender. On 85 minutes a free kick was awarded to the Latics and Gardner played it quickly and it was smothered by Barnes. The referee decided to allow it to be retaken (why?) and from the second kick the ball was looped to the far post where Surridge converted a neat header past Barnes for 3-2.

This is where JMc is at his defensive worst. On 87 minutes he brought Tom Eastman into the fray and took off Brennan Dickenson (who was tiring). Again, Senior could have replaced Dickenson because an extra defender handed the momentum to Oldham. Another set piece this time a corner and the veteran defender Clarke with over 700 appearances over a 20-year career, headed powerfully past Barnes. 3-3 on 88 minutes.

The comeback was complete. But Oldham wanted more, they pushed for a winner and after the referee awarded another dangerous free kick, it was cleared after some pinball in the Colchester penalty area.

The now further advanced Nouble (and clearly much happier), had a chance to win the game but after cutting in from the right wing (as we looked at it) contrived to overrun the ball and the ball ran tamely to Iversen in the Latics goal. It was certainly eventful during the 6 additional minutes which the referee had added on.

At the end the sides could not be separated, and it was a point a piece. Now before the game I might have settled for a point, but this season we should expect more and at 3-1 ahead with 5 minutes of normal time to play, we should have seen the game out. JMc must ensure that we secure maximum points from such matches with a healthy lead to defend.

League table (top ten):

Lincoln 9 22
Exeter 9 19
Newport 9 19
COL U 9 16
Carlisle 9 16
Oldham 9 15
FGR 9 15
Swindon 9 15
Stevenage 9 15
Yeovil 8 14

It was a thoroughly entertaining game for the neutral and I suppose both sides could be content with a point, but not if we want an automatic promotion place come May 2019.

JMc is also going to have to decide whether Brennan Dickenson is fully fit or not. He looks to be lacking some pace and he only gets one or two telling crosses in because he plays far too deep. Frank Nouble, if he is to play wide, must be given licence to roam in the final third rather than have to track back in a role that he is clearly unaccustomed to. JMc must also decide whether he plays Eastman, Prosser and Kent in a three at the back or bench one of them to allow Jackson and Vincent-Young to play in a four.

For all Szmodics industry and running, he is slightly ineffectual at present and could be the player to make way if JMc were to play 3,4,3 with Dickenson moved up alongside Norris and Nouble. Tom Lapslie is recovering well after surgery and Comley is an able substitute in the midfield. Harry Pell is becoming the fan’s favourite and Norris at times is unplayable.

JMc must not be afraid to take risks, we have a team hungry to score goals and one which has the players to do so on a regular basis.

Do not misunderstand me, I am delighted to be able to watch the U’s this season. They are exciting and know where the goal is for the first time in several years. They are definitely a team worthy of promotion, but you win nothing in September. There can be no more profligacy when sitting on a 3-1 lead and 5 minutes on the clock.

My next Away games will not be until Morecambe and Grimsby in late October, before those however we need back to back home wins against Bury and Yeovil and other good results.

Up the U’s

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Bunn's Latics to be consumed by the voracious Super U's
at 19:04 21 Sep 2018

JM takes his high-flying (deservedly so) charges to Boundary Park (also now known as the SportsDirect.comPark) on Saturday for a challenging and important League Two fixture. So far this season I have been to Notts County, Mansfield and Tranmere, on paper all challenging games. All three resulted in draws and with the well-earned win at Cheltenham, we can certainly approach this game in good spirits.

The table is very tight at the top as one would expect with only 8 games played. Incredibly though after Saturday we will have played one fifth of the season’s fixtures. All the more reason to look for three more precious points against the Latics, who themselves have moved into Play Off contention.

Frankie Bunn is the manager at Boundary Park and in Sam Surridge they have a quality striker on loan from Bournemouth, who knows where the goal is. At the back they have club captain and veteran defender Peter Clarke, who has now clocked up over 700 appearances in a 20-year career. It is 6th versus 4th and so it will both closely fought and a keen encounter.

Top eight in the table:

Lincoln 8 19
Exeter 8 16
Newport 8 16
COL U 8 15
Yeovil 7 14
Oldham 8 14
Bury 8 13
Tranmere 8 13

It is likely that both teams will be unchanged after comprehensive 3-0 victories against Grimsby and Cambridge last weekend. Colchester are the real deal this season and the acquisitions made during the close season have all contributed to the quality and ability of the team. Frank Nouble opened his account last week by scoring a very impressive goal after a trademark powerful run. He gets better each week and compliments Luke Norris in an impressive forward line.

The only possible change to the Cambridge game would be for JM to revert to three at the back with Tom Eastman playing alongside Prosser and Kent. But I reckon he will keep the 4,3,2,1 formation as follows:

Barnes

Jackson Prosser Kent Vincent-Young

Pell Comley Dickenson

Nouble Szmodics

Norris

Subs:

Ross Senior Collins Mandron Eastman Wright Gondoh

After a week of storms, strong winds and some heavy showers, interspersed with sunny intervals in Durham, it is pleasing to note that tomorrow's Oldham weather is set to be mostly cloudy with some bright intervals and about 11 degrees Celsius.

This is a good time to play at Boundary Park, notwithstanding the fact that they are playing well, we have a decent record against the Latics and the pitch will be much better than in the depths of the winter months.

With Bury, Yeovil and Stevenage to play in the next three weeks, tomorrow will be a good test of our promotion credentials. The faithful will be travelling in good number and hopefully will be in excellent voice.

I have persuaded both my sons to travel with me and we will be sporting the new Away shirts. Hoping for a decent journey and three points.

Safe journey to those travelling from North Essex. Enjoy the game.

Up the U’s

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Derby day success for the real CUFC tomorrow - Up the U's
at 20:24 14 Sep 2018

After a well-deserved point at Prenton Park last weekend, JM and his charges entertain Cambridge United in a local derby at the JobServe Community Stadium. They will be looking to keep their good run going against former favourite Joe Dunne’s team, who are currently occupying 19th position in the league with 7 points.

Table top seven:

Lincoln 7 16
Newport 7 16
Exeter 7 13
Carlisle 7 13
COL U 7 12
Mk Dons 6 12
Swindon 7 12

JM has to make a couple of changes. It was absolute lunacy to play Brennan Dickenson last weekend when he was not fit, and he should be rested tomorrow. Luke Prosser meanwhile will be back after his enforced suspension.

Diaz Wright, despite his impressive performance last week, is likely to make way for international star Brandon Comley, fresh from his game on the island of Montserrat.

Something along these lines will therefore do for the Super U’s tomorrow:

Barnes

Eastman Prosser Kent

Jackson Pell Comley Vincent-Young

Szmodics Norris Nouble

Subs:

Ross Wright Gondoh Barnes A Mandron Senior Collins

The weather tomorrow will be cloudy and 19 degrees Celsius. Pitch will be pristine, and the crowd will be decent, swelled by a good number making the short journey from Cambridge.

No place for complacency tomorrow, it is all about the three points.

Enjoy the game.

Up the U’s

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Tranmere stalemate - Durham's view
at 16:53 9 Sep 2018

My third away match this season and another draw, but a point was the least that we deserved. Now I have previously ranted about the traffic conditions on the A1/M1 earlier this season when travelling to Nottingham and Mansfield but yesterday it was the sleepy market town of Kirkby Stephen that cost me a one-hour delay after the closure of the A66 due to essential repairs and maintenance. This meant that with further delays through Aintree my son and I arrived almost 30 minutes late for the game.

Worse still the turnstiles had been closed, but fortunately the car park is close to the Club Shop and a member of staff kindly walked us around the ground to the Cowshed where he banged on the double doors to alert the steward who let us in, where we gratefully took our seats amongst the faithful.

We did at least manage to purchase a programme unlike the poor supporter next to us who had failed to obtain one and I suspect that he would not have had time after the game to walk back to the Club shop before climbing aboard the supporter’s coach.

Now after the heavy morning rain, the pitch had a couple of standing water patches on the side of the Johnny King stand and towards the corner area where we were attacking in the first half. The weather faired up considerably, so much so that the afternoon saw some bright intervals and the ground quickly dried up helped by the groundsman’s plastic snow type shovel which he used to good effect at half time.

Anyway, our late arrival meant that we missed the warm up and therefore were unaware of the farcical decision to suspend captain Luke Prosser. U’s fans will have read the history behind this decision based upon incorrect identification of Jackson and Prosser last weekend by the referee.

This added to the long-term injury to Tom Lapslie, and Brandon Comley playing on the island of Montserrat in their international game against El Salvador which they unfortunately lost 2-1, meant that the U’s were forced into a couple of changes. I do not understand the decision to play Brennan Dickenson, who has a tight hamstring and he clearly looked uneasy during the game.

JM returning to his home town club and linking up with Micky (me old fruit) Mellon decided to play the following starting XI with Harry Pell captain in the absence of Prosser and Lapslie:

Barnes

Eastman Kent Vincent-Young

Jackson Pell Wright Szmodics Dickenson

Nouble Norris

Subs:

Ross Clampin Kensdale Gondoh Collins Mandron Senior

Sporting our new Away Camo shirts which I have to say are very smart and popular amongst the faithful, we took our seats and it was obvious that Tranmere had had the better of the first half. However, as the clock ticked over towards half time it looked as though we would reach the interval with parity. The league’s top scorer James Norwood had different ideas and struck the ball with some venom from the right-hand side of the penalty area and found the left-hand corner of the net passed the despairing dive from Dillon Barnes.

Even the goal failed to rouse the Kop end who were taunted with 1-0 and you still don’t sing by the faithful. I slumped into my seat during the interval wondering if it was going to be one of those days.

JM changed it up however and reverted to a 4,4,2 with Jackson moving to Right Back. From the outset of the second half Colchester were clearly the better team and looked more like Championship Contenders (yes, I really believe that we can win the League this season).

Whether Tranmere were unsure because they were attacking the Away end in the second half as opposed to their partisan Kop end, but they started on the back foot.

Our vantage spot allowed us to watch Colchester build successfully from the back. There appeared to be some niggle between Dickenson and Norris (which wants stamping on quickly) on more than one occasion where a misplaced pass or an overhit pass from one or the other was met with obvious frustration, but some of that might have been due to Dickenson’s obvious discomfort and Norris’s frustration with one or two decisions from the referee, notably a penalty shout, which on another day might have been given.

Eastman and Kent were imperious at the back and both Jackson and Vincent-Young were effective foils for those players higher up the pitch.

Special mention must be made of young Diaz Wright who operated in the centre midfield position and saw a lot of the ball combining with his defence and fellow midfield players and spraying medium and long passes both right and left for Dickenson and Nouble respectively. This was the best game that I have seen Frank Nouble play for the club. He was tireless down the flank and an effective foil for his strike partner. He put in some hard yards at both full back and outside left.

In Luke Norris we have a no-nonsense striker who looks the part and gives power and strength and the ability to strike the ball from distance. He proved yesterday that he has a fiery temper and when he went off it was a good decision from JM who feared that he might earn himself a red card otherwise. Nothing wrong with passion providing it is not misplaced or over stated.

Anyway, before we reached that point the U’s had commanded the second half and Pell had been involved in most of the action. He was injured whilst trying to get his head on a ball that was destined for the top corner before being headed over by the Rovers defender Jennings.

The goal came when Dickenson played a short corner and from the resultant pass he delivered an excellent cross which Keeper Davies palmed out to Pell who made no mistake keeping the ball down and scoring to the keeper’s right. Mellon (poorly in my opinion) blamed his keeper, but I think that it was Pell’s industry and placement that deserved the goal and not any action or inaction by the keeper. So, 61 minutes and parity reached.

Tranmere were stunned, but in fairness could have no complaint, they had been second best since half time. Nouble was just wide with a drive and Szmodics was also denied by Davies.

Now just as at Notts County, Tranmere have a player (McNulty) who could shed a few pounds or stones. This is in no way being unkind but factual. He was slow and ponderous on the ball and will cost his team goals over the course of the season. Yesterday they conceded their first home league goal to Colchester, but our play deserved more.

Mellon was first to make changes and introduced two substitutes on 76 minutes Mottley-Henry and Mullin for Smith and Stockton respectively. It looked to have done the trick when Barnes was forced into an excellent double save from Jennings and substitute Mullin. Dillon Barnes is fast becoming an excellent goal keeper. He doesn’t fuss, he is growing in confidence and his handling and shot stopping is very good and his dead ball kicks are more accurate. He also starts many forward moves from accurate throw outs from the back.

The tiring Dickenson was replaced by Senior on 81 minutes, and JM had also prepared Mika Mandron, but he was asked to sit down again until Norris was booked and then replaced him on 84 minutes. The partisan crowd booed the striker as he left the field, but it was a good decision from JM to replace a clearly angry Norris, who should in my view have won a penalty after a foul on him in the box.

I must have missed the board from the fourth official but apparently, we played an extra 5 minutes and despite our dominance we could not secure the three points. Colchester had 53% of the play, 9 shots, 3 on target and 7 corners. Tranmere had dropped their first home league points.

Table top seven:

Lincoln 7 16
Newport 7 16
Exeter 7 13
Carlisle 7 13
COL U 7 12
MK Dons 6 12
Swindon 7 12

We now entertain Cambridge United in the derby game next weekend before travelling north again to Oldham. Lincoln’s home defeat to Crawley yesterday demonstrated the old adage that any team can defeat any other in this league and so we must be at our clinical best next weekend against Joe Dunne’s side.

Our journey home was uneventful, and I can now look forward to booking the boundary Park tickets.

Up the U’s

Prediction
Prediction Logged by at 21:08:32
Tranmere Rovers v Colchester United prediction logged
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Thread
JM to preside over victory at his return to the Rovers on Merseyside
at 21:07 6 Sep 2018

After the non-event that was the Checkatrade Trophy match on Tuesday evening JM takes his charges to the ground where he played 233 games for Tranmere Rovers before leaving for Ipswich Town.

Tranmere are managed by Micky Mellon, who coincidentally is also 46 years of age and knows JM well. Tranmere also lost on Tuesday in a seesaw Checkatrade game 4-3 to Crewe, which means that neither Tranmere nor Colchester picked up the £10K win bonus (even a draw would have netted £5K). Both teams now face tough matches if they are to progress in the competition.

In truth our recent record against Rovers is not brilliant and the last time that I saw us defeat them was in a bizarre game at Prenton Park played on Friday 26 September 2008 when the U’s ran out 4-3 winners. My eldest son was at the University of Central Lancashire and I picked him enroute to the game from Durham. The game was all square at 1-1, but we then managed to score 3 more goals to lead 4-1, but allowed a nervy ending when Rovers scored two late goals. (Colchester’s goals were scored by David Perkins, Mark Yeates, Clive Platt and Johnny Jackson). The attendance of 5,713 is likely to be bettered on Saturday, because Rovers are playing well at home and are as yet unbeaten in the league at Prenton Park, despite their midweek cup reverse.

Tranmere boast the league’s top scorer in James Norwood with 6 goals to date. They are well supported at home and I notice that they took 691 supporters to watch their recent 1-1 draw against the Cobblers. Make no mistake this will be a challenging game.

Now for those of you that still buy programmes (I certainly do) make sure that you also buy the excellent Tranmere fanzine. It is always a good read and last time I was at Prenton park it was £2, great value. The humour is superb.

Now sadly it hasn’t taken Colchester long to start with the injuries. Tom Lapslie has unfortunately succumbed to surgery on his knee and will be out for some weeks. Brennan Dickenson has a back problem and I thought that he too would be out for some time, but amazingly he played over 60 minutes on Tuesday night.

In such a match, why he was risked is beyond me. He had fought back after a long spell on the sidelines and was just beginning to play the attacking wing play that we had grown to love.

With Brandon Comley away on International duty with Montserrat, JM must make a couple of changes to an otherwise settled team.

I would suggest something along the following lines in a 3,4,1,2 formation:

Barnes

Eastman Prosser Kent

Jackson Pell Wright Vincent-Young

Szmodics

Norris Nouble

Subs:

Ross Rooney Barnes Collins Senior Mandron Gondoh

JM made some debuts from his youngsters and fringe players on Tuesday night which didn’t quite work out, but they will have all benefitted from the occasion. He will return to a strong XI less injury victims Lapslie and Dickenson.

My tickets arrived today (I have persuaded my youngest son to go!). We are situated in the quaintly named Summit Marine Scaffolding Cowshed Stand. The changeable weather at present is likely to see rain showers on Saturday on Merseyside and a temperature of 16 degrees Celsius.

League Table Top 7 places:

Lincoln 6 16
Newport 6 13
Mk Dons 6 12
COL U 6 11
Yeovil 6 11
Oldham 6 11
FGR 6 10

Tranmere are 11th on 9 points, so you can see how tight the table is and the need for Colchester to keep their winning run going again.

This will be a difficult game and one where a good result will send out the right sort of message ahead of the home derby game with Cambridge and another long trip to Boundary Park Oldham before the end of the month.

Safe journey to the travelling faithful.

Enjoy the game. Colchester to edge a thriller.

Up the U’s

[Post edited 8 Sep 11:01]
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