Who? Colchester United
Where? The JobServe Community Stadium
When? Saturday, September 18, 3pm kick-off
Sky Bet League Two match seven
Colchester suffered a difficult 2020/21 season with the lack of fans in stadiums, finishing in 20th position and missing out on relegation by only six points, surviving a late scramble of games that kept them in the football league, as both Grimsby Town and Southend United dropped down to the National League.
Hayden Mullins took temporary charge of the side in March, but fortunes changed and results turned under his leadership, as he achieved 12 crucial points which helped them climb out of the drop zone, avoiding relegation. Mullins was consequently offered a permanent deal as manager in May after his short success, and again this season improvements have shown, with the U’s sitting in tenth position with a game in hand on many in the league.
Many football fans may remember Hayden Mullins for his playing career where he made over 100 appearances for Crystal Palace, West Ham and for Portsmouth as a defensive midfielder. The 42-year old enjoyed a managerial spell of four years at Watford U23, also taking over as caretaker manager for the first team on two occasions.
ONES TO WATCH
Alan Judge - Midfielder
The Republic of Ireland international was a notable signing for the U’s in the summer, after his release from Ipswich Town following a disappointing 2020/21 season for the Tractor Boys. Judge made 34 League One appearances last season, but chose to drop down to League Two and stay local with Colchester, boasting experience from League One and the Championship on his arrival.
After early spells at Blackburn, Plymouth Argyle and Notts County, Judge spent five seasons at Brentford, where he enjoyed promotion to the Championship in 2013/14, before enjoying four further years in the second flight.
Judge is a creative, attacking midfield player, and will likely occupy a number ten role against the Reds sitting behind frontman Frank Nouble and alongside wide players Freddie Sears and Luke Hannant.
Frank Nouble - Forward
Crawley fans will know of Nouble from recent years with the forward possessing an impressive record against the Reds over recent history. The 29-year-old started his football at Chelsea before being snapped up by West Ham as an 18-year-old. The Hammers gave him twelve league games during his three-year spell there amongst loans to West Brom, Swindon, Swansea, Barnsley, Charlton Athletic and Gillingham.
Eventually Frank was picked up permanently by Wolves before quickly moving to Ipswich Town where he was loaned to Coventry, where he scored six in thirty-one appearances. The striker enjoyed stints at Southend and Newport before finding his form at Colchester United, where he managed nine league goals. Frank returned to Colchester after one season at Plymouth Argyle in League One.
Despite never being the most prolific league scorer, Nouble is often a major threat in attack with his pace and physicality. Nouble is dominant in the air and has a great ability to bring other attackers into play with crafty hold-up play whilst on the counter-attack.
After six league games, the U’s have only lost once, winning two and drawing on three occasions. They began their league campaign with a long-haul trip to Carlisle United, where they kept a noble clean sheet and secured a point with a 0-0 draw.
Scoring goals looked to be an early problem for Colchester who later went on to lose out by a 1-0 scoreline to both Birmingham City in the Carabao Cup, and Northampton Town in the league. A 1-1 draw followed at home to Mansfield Town as Freddie Sears’ 95th minute penalty snatched them a point, but a league win came in match four when they defeated strugglers Oldham Athletic at Boundary Park.
Sears converted another penalty early on in the game and a Noah Chilvers effort followed to double the scoreline after just twelve minutes. Dylan Bahamboula pulled one back in the second-half as the game finished 1-2, and Colchester shot up the league table.
Next was another long trip to Rochdale, and again Mullins’ men took the lead in the first-half thanks to a Max Taylor own-goal. But the home side salvaged a deserved point when Jimmy Keohane equalised on the hour mark.
However, Colchester’s scoring form was discovered in their last outing, as once again they were made to travel on a long trip, this time to Barrow. The hosts took an unsurprising early lead but Freddie Sears found Alan Judge who converted the equaliser minutes later. In quick succession it was Sears who gave Colchester a 1-2 lead before the half-time whistle. In the second-half Ollie Banks levelled the scores from the spot but after yet another determined reaction, four minutes later, Tom Eastman found the net after meeting Charlie Daniels’ corner ball.
HEAD TO HEAD
Crawley have faced Colchester United on many occasions in recent history, including three fixtures two seasons ago, with one in the Round of 16 in the Carabao Cup when we lost out 1-3, after Dannie Bulman gave us an early lead with an incredible long-range strike.
In our last seventeen clashes with the U’s, Crawley have been victorious eight times, with six home victories and two away wins. Both teams have scored in four of our last five meetings, and within those seventeen games, Crawley have only failed to score twice.
Our last trip to the JobServe Community Stadium came last season, when the Reds were extremely unlucky not to come away with three points. Callum Harriott scored one of the goals of the season to open the scoring, shooting from further than 30 yards. Jordan Tunnicliffe bagged an equaliser only moments later and from that point the Crawley pressure was relentless.
The Reds created many chances throughout the second-half and a winning goal seemed very likely, yet it just would not fall for us on the day as we took a very positive performance away from the game in Essex.