Comment: U’s showing all the signs of being promotion contenders

Harry Pell, who scored his second goal of the season with a 61st minute equaliser at Tranmere Rovers

Harry Pell, who scored his second goal of the season with a 61st minute equaliser at Tranmere Rovers. Picture: STEVE WALLER - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Colchester United are showing all the hallmarks of a side who can be serious promotion contenders this season.

That was clearly on show at Prenton Park on Saturday, as the U’s secured another battling away point, at a tough place, to preserve their top-five berth.

Harry Pell came up trumps with a 61st minute equaliser, the first visiting player to score at Tranmere this season. He buried a snap shot from 10 yards out after home keeper Scott Davies had only managed to half-clear a cross by Brennan Dickenson.

Earlier, the prolific James Norwood had grabbed his seventh goal of the season with a precise angled drive on 42 minutes.

So what are these hallmarks of a successful side?

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Firstly, the U’s have already shown a lot of resilience, during the first month or so of the campaign. They have now twice rallied from a goal down, on their travels, to secure a league point, at Mansfield and now Tranmere, to say nothing of their late double to peg back Cheltenham to a 2-2 draw in the Checkatrade Trophy.

Secondly, John McGreal’s men are managing to eek out results, despite missing key players at various times.

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In addition to the injured Tom Lapslie (six weeks out with a knee injury), the U’s were missing fellow midfielder Brandon Comley (on international duty with Montserrat) and club captain Luke Prosser (one-match ban).

Thirdly, the U’s are showing an adaptability to employ different systems to good effect, even within a game, again exemplified at Tranmere with boss McGreal, switching from a 3-5-2 formation to a flat back-four to stem the flow of Rovers’ attacks.

There are another indicators of future success as well.

Fourthly, the U’s are going to be no pushovers on the road. They are now unbeaten in four away league games, an impressive record for any team.

And fifthly, they can already boast eight different goalscorers this season, showing that they will not be relying on just Sammie Szmodics and their strikers (Frank Nouble and Mikael Mandron have not even scored yet!), unlike last term.

There are many other reasons, of course, but the case has been made, I think, for expecting Colchester to be a top-seven side, at worst, by the end of this season.

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