Bristol have realistic chance of top two

COLCHESTER United surprised everyone by pushing for a play-off place in their first ever season in the Championship last year, before finally finishing in an impressive 10th position.

Carl Marston

COLCHESTER United surprised everyone by pushing for a play-off place in their first ever season in the Championship last year, before finally finishing in an impressive 10th position.

But newly-promoted Bristol City are going even better this term, following their automatic promotion from League One. They are not just in the hunt for the play-offs - they have genuine hopes of finishing in the top two.

Manager Gary Johnson is not playing down his side's chances. Whereas the U's were very coy about the possibility of making the play-offs 12 months ago, and were never really considered genuine contenders for top flight football, the Robins are gunning for a second successive promotion.


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In fact, Johnson has even mapped out what his players need to achieve, to secure automatic promotion, beginning with today's trip to Colchester.

“We've looked at the situation with 13 games to go, and feel we need eight wins again (same target as last season). We feel that would be enough to clinch an automatic promotion place,” revealed Johnson.

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“|It's a small number of wins required for the prize at the end of it.”

City are currently in third spot, just one point behind both Stoke and Watford. They are unbeaten in three games, following wins over Sheffield Wednesday (2-1) and at Scunthorpe (1-0), as well as a 1-1 home draw against Crystal Palace.

Johnson's men have only suffered seven defeats in 33 league fixtures, and have maintained their promotion bid all season. They play Watford at home next month, and travel to Stoke on April 19.

However, they are taking nothing for granted this afternoon. The U's were good value for their 1-1 draw at Ashton Gate in mid-January, and are hoping to chalk up back-to-back home wins for the second time this season.

Johnson warned: “It will be hard because Colchester are fighting for their lives at the bottom of the table.

“The onus is on them and you would expect them to come out and attack us. We have to be right on guard because I'm sure Colchester will produce a very passionate game.”

Like all good teams in the Championship, City have a wealth of riches up front.

Leading scorer Darren Byfield (eight goals) and Lee Trundle (£1m signing from Swansea) were only substitutes in the Robins last game, against Palace. Instead, new recruit Dele Adebola and Michael McIndoe spearheaded the attack.

U's boss Geraint Williams said of today's opponents: “They can afford to have a £1m man on the bench, which shows their strengths.

“I think everybody takes Bristol City seriously in this league, because once you get past Christmas and they stay where they are, you have to.”

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