How did they do last season?
The U’s narrowly missed out on the play-offs last season following relegation from League One the previous season – meaning they would play in League Two for the first time.
John McGreal’s men finished the campaign in 8th position after an unbeaten run of six matches at the end of the 2016-17 season. They had started well but went on a winless run from late September until November.
Seven out of eight wins throughout December and January pushed the side back up the league, before another poor run derailed the play-off push meaning their late season form came too little too late.
Who stood out?
Chris Porter’s 16 goals in all competitions made him the side’s top goalscorer – the forward notched 30 goals in 95 appearances during his time with the club before moving north to Crewe Alexandra this summer.
John McGreal took over in May 2016 after the club’s relegation to League Two.
The defender’s playing career saw him enjoy spells with Tranmere Rovers, Ipswich Town and Burnley, where he finished his playing days having made over 100 appearances for the Lancashire side.
His first season in senior management saw indifferent spells of form, but McGreal did pick up the Manager of the Month award for January.
The aforementioned Porter, Matthew Briggs and Lloyd Doyley have all departed the club over the summer, with the Essex club yet to recruit during the close season.
Our Previous Meetings
The Reds triumphed 3-2 over the U’s in their last meeting in mid-February. The game at the Weston Homes Community Stadium saw captain Jimmy Smith score his first senior hat-trick on a memorable night in Essex.
Previously the reverse fixture in the league ended in a 1-1 draw back at the Checkatrade Stadium at the start of the campaign. Adi Yussuf had put the Reds ahead early on before Porter’s late equaliser meant the spoils were shared.
The Checkatrade Trophy meeting last year ended in a 1-0 win for the Reds as James Collins’ header was enough to give the side a winning start to Southern Group E.
The U’s are 4/1 to win promotion and 16/1 to lift the title – find a list of all the odds for the new season by clicking here.