Exeter City travel to the Colchester Community Stadium tomorrow seeking to build on a solid win against Accrington Stanley last time out in the league. Man behind the Mask, Dan Gottschalk takes a look at City's opponents.
The Essex side narrowly missed out on the play-offs last season and will be hoping to go one better this year, looking a useful side already this term.
Colchester United were formed in 1937 and quickly became popular in the Essex town, providing an alternative to the struggling Colchester Town.
United would start playing their games at Layer Road, the former home of Colchester Town as Town folded as a team in December of 1937. Success quickly followed for United, winning the Southern League Cup in their first season in existence before becoming the Southern League champions later in 1939.
In 1950, Colchester United were elected to the Football League and started a run of 11 consecutive years in Division Three before relegation in 1961. This prompted a string of promotions and relegations for the side in the 1960s and 70s until the U’s experienced a prolonged spell in the Fourth Division from 1981.
Financial difficulty meant a gradual slide down the Fourth Division table until eventually the club dropped out of the Football League for the first time in its history in 1992. Colchester fans did not have to wait long to return to league football however as just two years later, having cleared their debts, United returned to the Football League sealed with a win over bitter rivals Wycombe Wanderers.
Since then, the club has consolidated its place in the Football League and even had a spell in the Championship, gaining promotion under then manager Phil Parkinson in the 2005/06 season. The next season, Colchester achieved the highest league finish in their history, making 10th in the Championship despite having the lowest attendance in the league.
Colchester moved away from former home ground Layer Road in the 2008/09 season to their Colchester Community Stadium but since then the club has been relegated to League Two.
Season in focus:
Despite a strong campaign last season, Colchester narrowly missed out on the play offs, finishing just one point behind eventually promoted Blackpool. This season, United fans will be hoping to go one better and put forward a strong push for promotion.
The U’s are currently sat just outside of the play off places but could rise as high as sixth with a win should other results also go their way. Whilst promotion from League Two promises to be a stern challenge for the Essex based club, they will be buoyed by their strong home form and hoping to enter the busy festive period with some form.
Colchester will be heading into tomorrow’s game against the Grecians after a two-week break from competitive football after failing to make the second round of the FA Cup, being knocked out in the first by Oxford City. Time will tell whether this is beneficial to the U’s but they will surely be keen to return to winning ways after falling to defeat in their last game away to second placed Notts County.
Ones to Watch:
Colchester are a threat from all over the pitch this season with no less than 11 different goal scorers already this season.
Leading the way in terms of goals however is striker Mikael Mandron. At just 23 years old, the Frenchman has already got Premier League experience having played in the top tier for Sunderland.
Since then, Mandron has undergone a series of loan spells before eventually joining Eastleigh on a permanent deal in 2016. Here, Mandron scored 10 goals in 28 appearances and raised the interest of Wigan Athletic.
This move wasn’t to work out however and after just three appearances for the Latics, Mandron moved to Colchester earlier this year and has already found his feet, netting six times for United so far this season.
Also scoring six goals for Colchester this season is midfielder Sammie Szmodics. Colchester fans will be no stranger to Szomdics with the youngster coming through the clubs academy having joined at the age of seven. Despite being the young age of 22, the midfielder has already racked up over 70 appearances for the U’s, scoring 15 goals along the way and will provide a creative threat from the middle of the park.
Colchester have been able to match their attacking threat with defensive stability. Towering over the other players at the Colchester Community Stadium at 6ft3, centre back Tom Eastman is a stalwart in the Colchester backline. Joining the club from rivals Ipswich Town in 2011, Eastman has made over 230 appearances for United, something of a rarity at this level, and has backed up his presence with solid performances, definitely one to watch.
Last Time Out:
Exeter City managed to do the double over Colchester last season, beating them 3-2 at the Colchester Community Stadium courtesy of goals from Robbie Simpson, Ollie Watkins and Joel Grant.
The game was a lively one, the Grecians initially takin the lead before falling 2-1 behind only to strike twice in the second half to seal victory.
The reverse fixture at St James Park was just as entertaining in January earlier this year, the Grecians coming away 3-0 winners thanks to strikes from Reuben Reid, David Wheeler and Liam McAlinden as part of City’s famous 12 match unbeaten run spanning back to November 2016.
Colchester will be wanting to reverse their fortunes against the Grecians this season and tomorrow’s match between the sides promises to be one of the fixtures of the weekend.