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Friday, September 14, 2007

Preview - Colchester (away)

Its now time for a frightening prospect. A game against a striker on top of his form always puts the wind up a defender. Is it any of them foreign johnnies that we can't spell, an up-and-coming youngster or one of them experienced old hands with thousands of games behind them. No, in fact its none of those, for we're up against a player that refuses to be labelled, because it's................Kevin Lisbie!!
With 2 goals from three games, he's Colchesters joint leading goalscorer along with old man Sheringham. Leading goalscorer, its many a year since Kev could call himself that, but to my mind he'll be the key to Saturdays game.

Not Good!
We continue in the Fizzies with our 5th game against teams with whom we have a bad history although with Colchester we do have a couple of cup wins against them to even things up. At far as the League is concerned we've only spent two seasons in the same Division, 1974/75 and 1980/81 and both were Addicks promotion seasons so the acquaintance didn't last long. In 1974 we won 4-1 at the Valley and lost 3-0 away and in 1980 we managed to somehow lose both games, 1-2 at the Valley and 0-2 at Layer Road. So only one win in our 4 League games against the U's.

The Opponents
With a 2-2 draw against Barnsley and a 2-3 defeat against Burnley, Colchester have not started off too well at home although they have scored 4 goals. An opening day 2-2 draw at Sheff Uoo and a 3-0 win at Preston means that their away form is much better and they are currently in 14th position with 5 points. But with their total of 9 goals in only 4 games they are the Divisions leading goalscorers with 7 players sharing the goals. The Addicks, in comparison have only scored 6 times.
They also have something of a settled side with eight players having started all 4 League games so far with our Kev having started in 3 of them. The Addicks only have half that number, 4 players, that have started every game - Weaver, Semedo, Reid and Ambrose.

Who Are Yorr?
Sheringham and Co.
Apart from Sheringham and our Kev there's probably nobody here you've ever heard about, except for old-boy Kemal Izzet and Cameroon full-back George Elokobi. After playing in one of those behind-closed-doors games on Tuesday against West Ham, in which they drew 2-2 after being 2 goals ahead, we could see the return of 'experienced craftsman' midfielder Kevin Watson after an Achilles problem in the early part of the season. Watson will be well-known to both Pards and Parkinson as Pardew, when boss at Reading, signed him from Rotherham and then Parks signed him from Reading when boss at Colchester. Perhaps they'll understand why Colchester boss Geraint Williams is so anxious to get him back on the pitch and no doubt they'll both be pleased if he continues on the sidelines.
Their Hungarian international centre-back Bela Balogh also played the first half of the game but its seems unlikely that either will start tomorrow so soon after injury.

The Addicks
Same Eleven?
After our first away win since January at Sainburys, and despite having Magic and Varney available after their injuries, it's very possible that Pardew may settle on exactly the same team tomorrow.

With the unusual tactic at Palarse of inspiring the team with the suggestion that they should win it for the Chairman, we played a 4-5-1 and only changed it to a 4-4-2 for the last half-hour with Todorov taking over from Thomas. It gave us our first clean sheet after letting in 6 goals in 3 fizzy games and facing the Leagues highest goalscorers Pards could decide to continue with the formation.

Against Palarse the team was: Weaver; Mills, Fortune,McCarthy,Powell; Thomas , Semedo, ZiZi, Ambrose, Reid; Iwelumo.
Subs: Randolph, Racon, Sam, Todorov, McLeod.

After the clean sheet it would be a surprise if the defence was changed although Ben Thatcher is apparently fit again. Jon Fortune, according to reports, played a blinder at Palarse and with his knowledge of Lisbie after so many years together has to start. The signing of Sam Sodje and the return of Magic Bougherra will please Pards but to my mind he'll wait and see how last weeks central-defensive pairing perform before changing anything for a second successive away game.

With Chris Iwelumo returning to his old club, he does look certain to start after his performance last time out although, similar to the knowledge Fortune has of Lisbie, so the Colchester manager Geraint Williams does say that "we know all about him (Iwelumo) here and we'll be looking to keep him quiet."

Because of that perhaps Pardew will surprise everyone and put fit-again Luke Varney up front and if its a 4-4-2 then maybe he would but he's not a player for a single striker role especially after injury so its surely the bench for him at the moment. So the only question is; will Pards want to keep Todorov happy or will he continue play with the 4-5-1.

For me its 4-5-1 with ZiZi, Reid, Semedo, shot-happy Ambrose ( the man with the most shots apparently) and Thomas.

So the team? Exactly the same as at Palarse: Weaver; Mills, Fortune,McCarthy,Powell; Thomas , Semedo, ZiZi, Ambrose, Reid; Iwelumo

What Does Pards Say?
Kev's a Fantastic Person.

Commenting on the lose of Darren Bent, Pards had this to say on Thursday; "I had to bring in fresh strikers to liven the place up after losing Darren [Bent]. Kevin probably wouldn't have started, and injuries have really held him back. He's a fantastic person and a great player but injuries have always been his handicap and if he can steer clear of them he will be a big success for Colchester. He is a good signing for them. I have a lot of respect for him, but he was here for a long time and sometimes it's just time to move on, and I think that was true for Kevin"

But perhaps more relevant are his remarks about Colchester: "Colchester had the second best home record in the league last year, so it is a tough game for us. We are mindful of the environment that awaits us, it is a tight little ground and the crowd are in your face, but we will be buoyed by a good following of our own and it will be like a cup tie atmosphere".
And Pards obviously knows that, in the Cup, we are unbeaten against Colchester.

A Win 2-1
Can't see another clean sheet, especially with Colchesters' scoring record this season, and while Pedro45 sees a comfortable 3-1 win, its down to a single goal victory for me, a 2-1 win to the Addicks with Thomas and Reid getting the goals.

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