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Monday, September 28, 2009

Colchester United Preview

A bit of a stiff test ahead for the Addicks this week with two very difficult away games. We've never won at Colchester in the League and although we've only lost twice in our last six trips to Elland Rd after that Play-Off drama, Saturday will surely be the most difficult of the two.
And we enter what will be a revealing time for the Addicks with games against all of the other top 6 clubs over the next nine games. Not that our main rivals will have it easy either. Leeds had MK Dons last weekend, and follow that with a home game against Carlisle tomorrow - the last team to beat them at home in the League back in January. And then the Addicks come calling.
And whilst we return home for home games against Oldham and Huddersfield, Leeds have another couple of difficult successive away games at Bristol Rovers and then Millwall who disposed of them in last seasons Play-Off semis.
Anyway we start the difficult run against two of our bogeys, namely Colchester United and Aidy Boothroyd. After retiring from football aged 26 through injury, Boothroyd, still only 38, spent the following eight years coaching at Peterborough, West Brom and Leeds before becoming Watford's youngest ever manager at 34.
He then became only the 2nd manager in Watford's history to take them into the top flight when they won promotion to the Premier in 2006 after beating favorites Leeds 3-0 in the Play-Off final at Wembley. Their stay was short, however, and they were the only team to finish below us in 2007.

Times changes though and he's been out of a job since November last year when he left Watford "by mutual consent", Boothroyd became the U's manager on 2nd September and the combination of the two may be hard to beat.

Because his results against the Addicks are very impressive, from his point of view anyway. Four successive draws first in the Premier and then the fizzies and finally last season he achieved the double over us winning 1-0 at Vicarage Rd and 3-2 at the Valley.

And, of course, to level things up a bit we have our own ex's returning home. Parky had 3 successful years at Colchester between 2003-2006 taking them into Tier Two for the first time in their history and one of their most famous old boys is Mark Kinsella who signed on for the U's as a 17 year old. He stayed seven years, played 180 games apparently and 1998 was not his first win at Wembley, for he had won there previously with Colchester in the FA Trophy in 1992.

Currently 5th with 15 points with 3 home wins over Yeovil 2-1, the Gills 2-1 and Hartlepool 2-0 and only one home defeat to Leeds 2-1 at the end of August. And since that game against Leeds and also since Boothroyds' arrival, are currently on a run of 4 games unbeaten.

Number 20, is of course, Kevin Lisbie currently on loan from Ipswich. He's already got 23 goals for Colchester ( seven more than he got for us).

They also have the now 28 year old Kemal Izzet who left us for Colchester in 2001 without playing a game for the Addicks although he's been absence from the last two games after his sending off against Southampton.

Who Are Yeh
Number 18 Steven Gillespie is a 24 year Scouser whom Colchester splashed out their biggest ever fee - 400K - in the summer of 2008 after he'd scored 16 goals for Cheltenham in Tier 4.
They have four on-loan players and they'll all probably feature against the Addicks. Batth is a 19 year old centre-back on-loan from Wolves whilst another loanee is number 8 Irish U21 international 20 year old winger John-Joe O'Toole ex of Watford and the Blades both of whom he has played fizzy football.

They also have Nigerian striker Kayode Odejayi on a 3 month loan from Barnsley. He's tall, strong and will be a handful and was responsible for winning 2 penalties - Lisbie missed one and scored one in a game where he had to take three of them - on his debut against Hartlepool. He was called "unplayable" in the report on that game but Sammy Sodje will know all about him though, as they are both current Nigerian internationals.

The Dangerman

New striker Kayode Odejayi looks in worrying form but the rule of the ex's says that this weeks dangerman is quite clearly Kevin Lisbie. He was transferred to Ipswich from Colchester last season for 300k but it didn't work out and after just six goals all season is back at the U's on a season long loan where he's already equalled that total after 9 games. After his 10 years at the Valley and 176 games (108 as sub) he only managed 19 goals so he's obviously found his home at the U's for whom he's now got 23 in around 50 games.

Doing A Leicester?
Nine games in and Leeds had a meagre 17 points last season and were 4th. Leicester, meanwhile were top three points clear of Scunthorpe and had 22 points from 7 wins and a draw. But 9 games played is early days and the 2nd promotion spot would eventually go to the Posh, who after 9 games were in a distance ninth place.

The Addicks and Colchester clearly don't get on. Three times we have arrived in the same League together and each time one of us ups and leaves. Its as if we can't stand each other. Our two promotion seasons in 1974/75 and 1980-81, both of which we finished third in Tier Three, we did the leaving and then in 2007/08 the U's dropped out of Tier Two.

So only 3 seasons together make for a very short history and our league record at Layer Rd was not one to be proud of. Two previous Tier Three defeats, 3-0 in 1974 and 2-0 in 1981 in our promotion years was followed by a 2-2 draw in the fizzies in 2007 just two years ago.

And no surprise to see that there's only two players left from our team of two years ago - Jose and Lloyd Sam. The team was Weaver; Mills, McCarthy, Fortune, Powell; J Thomas (Reid 46), Semedo, Zheng, Ambrose; Todorov (Sam 72), Iwelumo (Varney 68) when we gave them a two goal start ( one from Kevin, of course) before Todorov and ZiZi scored. Twelve departures in 24 months and not surprisingly Reidie is the only one that I'd add to our current squad.

So no league wins but we have won there in the Cup, an 1-0 FA victory in 1984 and a previous League Cup 3-2 win in 1978. So overall its an embarrassing 4-3 to them with 2 draws.
But now, of course, we can forget our Layer Rd gremlins because the U's have moved to a brand stadium at Cuckoo Farm with a capacity of 10000.
The Team
An injured Jose meant a team change on Saturday after eight games unchanged. He was "almost fit" says Parky but wanted to save him for the important ones. Spring started and played the full 90, and amidst varying reports it would appear that he'll be unlucky to be sitting on the bench again against Colchester. And its all come a game too early for Matt as he'd love to show Aidy some style as, after working with him at Leeds, he was then one of Boothroyd's early signings at Watford.
So a return to our settled eleven then and with the added hope that Llera can avoid the dreaded 5th yellow before the Leeds game and before Sodje departs for international duty for the Oldham game. Perhaps Parky will surprise us and put Sammy in to start instead of Llera and use his knowledge of fellow Nigerian Odejayi.
A home team that has scored twice in three of their 4 home games - all won - against an away team that has scored 10 times in their 4 away games. The league's highest scorers with 20, against a team that has only scored 10 in their last 8.
But we've never won in Colchester in the League and Boothroyd hasn't lost to us in the 6 games that he's played against us and they are unbeaten since his arrival on September 2nd.
Its also another fixture where we can measure ourselves up against Leeds before the weekend for they are the only team to spoil the U's 100 per cent home record this season with that 2-1 win back in August. And while we continue to concede goals in the last 10 minutes, Leeds continue to do the opposite and have scored 6 of their 17 goals in the last 10 minutes.
So overall a 2-1 defeat here would not be a surprise but I have to go with a score draw with Lisbie getting a least one.

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