From Blues to U's - how ex-Town stars are faring at Colchester
- Credit: Colchester United
Carl Marston was at Barrow last Friday night to witness the impact that so many former Ipswich Town players are having at neighbours Colchester United....
While Ipswich Town can't buy a win at the moment, a sizeable group of former players are making a big impact just 16 miles along the A12 at Colchester United.
Long-suffering Town supporters can be excused for taking a close interest in the goings-on at the JobServe Community Stadium, even if it just provides a welcome distraction to the current plight at Portman Road.
There were no fewer than EIGHT players with Ipswich connections in the Colchester squad for their must recent match, a thrilling 3-2 win away at Barrow last Friday night.
True, the ex-Town brigade are operating at a lower level, in League Two as opposed to League One, but there is still a touch of irony that so many ex-Town players are enjoying some success down the road in Essex, while Paul Cook's current team flounders in the third tier relegation zone with no wins from six league games.
At Barrow's Holker Street last Friday evening, all three U's goals were scored by ex-Town players, in the shape of Alan Judge, Freddie Sears and Tom Eastman.
In fact, you couldn't keep the ex-Town party out of the action. Sears also set up the first for Judge, while on the negative side, ex-Town centre-half Tommy Smith gifted Barrow their opening goal with a poor back pass, and fellow ex-Town star Luke Chambers was sent off in the second for two yellow-card offences.
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Here's a run-down of Town's old boys, and how they are performing at Colchester so far this season....
A class act at Town, it was a real coup when the U's signed the 32-year-old on a free transfer over the summer, on a two-year deal.
Predictably, Judge is already running things in the U's midfield, in an attacking role, and he celebrated his first goal of the campaign at Barrow when gleefully sweeping home a pinpoint cross by Sears, from close-in, for a first-half equaliser.
Judge made 91 first-team appearances for Town, spread over two-and-a-half-seasons, following his switch from Brentford at the start of 2019.
Ex-Town skipper and stalwart Chambers, an almost permanent fixture at Portman Road for nine years, is another to have predictably settled in well at Colchester.
The 35-year-old has played all six league games to date, in the heart of the U's defence, and his organisational and leadership skills will prove invaluable in the U's quest for what would be a first promotion in 16 years (their last promotion was into the Championship in 2006).
Chambers blotted his copybook with a red card at Barrow, with the score at 2-2, but his side dug deep to take all three points with his centre-half replacement, Tom Eastman, netting the winner.
Chambers' proud career at Portman Road saw him rattle up 396 appearances, following his arrival in 2012, securing him ninth position in the club's all-time appearance maker charts.
Front-runner Sears, back with the U's after six seasons at Portman Road, has hit the ground running. His goals could prove the difference between the Essex club securing or missing out on promotion. So far, the 31-year-old has tucked home three goals in six league outings, including a sublime finish for the U's second at Hulver Street last Friday.
Sears has been playing wide, from where he set up Judge for his goal at Barrow. The former West Ham Academy product first signed for the U's as a 22-year-old back in 2012, on a permanent basis, eventually moving to Town for £100,000 in 2015 to play 218 games and net 34 goals. Re-signing for the U's over the summer, he is a potent attacking force at this level.
A vital cog in the engine room, Town fans know all about Skuse's efficiency and accuracy with the short pass, from a defensive midfield role. He protects the U's back-line, and displays composure when in possession.
The 35-year-old, who enjoyed eight seasons at Portman Road, after arriving on a free transfer in 2013, should prove a shrewd acquisition for the U's on a two-year deal this summer.
Recruited on a season-long loan from Town, on August 31, Dobra was an unused substitute at Barrow and is yet to make his U's league debut. But he is sure to make an impression over the coming months.
He may have blundered with a terrible pass which led to Barrow's opener, but 31-year-old Smith is a class act as a fourth tier central defender.
He spent 11 seasons at Portman Road from 2007, initially under managers Jim Magilton and Roy Keane, arriving at the U's via Colorado Rapids and a short stint at Sunderland the previous summer. He only missed one league game last term.
Clacton-born Eastman only made 10 appearances for Town, and most of those 10 he played out-of-position as a right-back during Roy Keane's era.
A switch to Colchester in 2011 was an inspired one, and the 29-year-old centre-back has since gone on to chalk up more than 400 games. He came off the bench to direct home a dramatic headed winner at Barrow.
The 29-year-old has never scored as many goals as he should, but he is spearheading the U's attack to good effect this year, his third stay with the club.
Nouble had 18 months at Town (from early 2013), where he spent as much time on the bench as on the pitch. But he works hard, brings team-mates into play, and can score a goal out of nothing.
- Dean Gerken, another former Town stalwart, is still on the U's books but has not featured this season