Essex derby for Colchester United in the much-maligned Checkatrade Trophy

Diaz Wright, right, on his U's senior debut in the Checkatrade Trophy group match at Crawley last se

Diaz Wright, right, on his U's senior debut in the Checkatrade Trophy group match at Crawley last season. Picture: PAGEPIX

Colchester United already know two of their three opponents in next season’s Checkatrade Trophy group stage.

The U’s will be in Southern Section Group B along with Essex rivals Southend and League One outfit Gillingham, together with as yet one unknown (under-21s) Category One club,

The under-21 invited teams will be drawn into each group next Wednesday.

The new format has been designed to create more local derbies, and so reduce overall travel for clubs from the lower two tiers. The under-21 teams will play all group games away from home.

The competition has been dogged by bad publicity in recent seasons, especially following last year’s introduction of under-21 teams, and falling attendances.


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Only 881 attended the U’s away group match at Crawley last August, while just 719 watched Southampton Under-21s’ visit to the Weston Homes Community Stadium in October.

A mere 548 saw the last group match at home to Charlton in November.

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The U’s bowed out in the group stages.

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