History favours U's after draw
COLCHESTER United will enjoy home advantage for the second leg of their LDV Vans Trophy southern area final against Swansea City.The Welshmen will host the first leg at their new Liberty Stadium during the week beginning February 20, following their penalty shoot-out victory over Walsall on Tuesday night.
By Carl Marston
COLCHESTER United will enjoy home advantage for the second leg of their LDV Vans Trophy southern area final against Swansea City.
The Welshmen will host the first leg at their new Liberty Stadium during the week beginning February 20, following their penalty shoot-out victory over Walsall on Tuesday night. The likely date is Tuesday, February 21.
The U's will then stage the second leg at Layer Road in the week beginning March 6. Again, the fixture is earmarked for a Tuesday evening, on March 7.
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Significantly, the U's were at home in the second leg of their southern area final against Peterborough in 1997, when they overturned a 2-0 deficit at London Road to win through 3-2 on aggregate. They lost the final to Carlisle on a penalty shoot-out, after a goal-less draw.
Two years ago, Phil Parkinson's side were defeated at the regional final stage by Southend, having staged the first leg at Layer Road, which they lost 3-2. They bowed out of the competition 4-3 on aggregate.
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Recent history therefore suggests that Colchester have an advantage in staging the second leg at home.
That theory is enhanced by the U's successful promotion campaign of 1997-98, when they overcame Barnet in the play-off semi-finals, again after overturning a first leg deficit on the road (1-0 defeat at Underhill). They beat the Bees in the second leg at Layer Road and went on to defeat Torquay 1-0 in the Wembley final.
Two years earlier, Steve Wignall's men had lost a Nationwide Division Three play-off semi-final to Plymouth. Again they had impressed in their home leg, taking a 1-0 advantage to Devon, only to crash out 3-2 on aggregate after losing the second leg at Home Park.
Meanwhile, the U's have been installed as second favourites to win the LDV Vans Trophy. They are quoted by some bookmakers at 2-1, with Swansea the fancied team at 6-4. The outsiders are northern finalists Carlisle and Macclesfield.
Swansea strengthened their bid for promotion by signing striker Rory Fallon from Swindon Town for a £300,000 fee yesterday.
New Zealander Fallon netted an injury-time winner against Colchester on Boxing Day, which remains the U's only defeat in their last 20 matches.
The U's Reserves bounced back from two goals down to draw 2-2 against Brighton's second string yesterday afternoon.
New signing Tony Thorpe pulled one back with a header from triallist Mazin Ahmed's cross, and Jamie Guy fired home the equaliser just before the break.