“It will feel just like Layer Road” – insists ex-Colchester United stalwart Scott McGleish

Scott McGleish, back in his Colchester Unioted days, responds to the jeers from Peterborough fans ba

Scott McGleish, back in his Colchester Unioted days, responds to the jeers from Peterborough fans back in 2002. Posh was one of his former clubs

For Scott McGleish, Colchester United’s legendary former striker, this weekend will feel just like a return to the good old days at a packed and noisy Layer Road.

Scott McGleish celebrates a goal against QPR, back in 2002, with one of his familiar somersaults

Scott McGleish celebrates a goal against QPR, back in 2002, with one of his familiar somersaults

Veteran front-runner McGleish played 184 senior games for the U’s, during a long and successful professional career, but on Saturday he will be plotting the downfall of his old club, in his current capacity as player-coach at Wealdstone.

U’s supporters will always have a soft spot for warrior front-man McGleish, who finished as the club’s leading goalscorer for three successive seasons, between 2001 and 2004.

But there will be no love lost this weekend, as the 41-year-old attempts to mastermind a major FA Cup shock at Wealdstone’s Grosvenor Vale home, in Ruislip.

Tony Humes’ men beat Gosport Borough 6-3 away in last season’s FA Cup first round, but they are likely to face a sterner test against another National League South club this Saturday.

Wealdstone are in red-hot form, and McGleish is predicting an “intimidating” atmosphere, similar to that experienced by visitors to the U’s old ground at Layer Road.

“I think that Saturday will feel like an old game at Layer Road,” insisted McGleish.

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“Personally, I was ecstatic to draw Colchester when the names came out of the hat. I was very happy with that tie, at home against a League club, and one of my old clubs at that.

“But we will make it as intimidating as possible for Colchester, our fans will make sure of that.

“We will be trying to play it down, to the players, as much as possible, during this week.

“We want to treat it like a normal game, and a few of our players have had lots of experience of playing in the League. These older heads will not be fazed.

“Of course it’s a big day for us, but it’s just another game.

“I strongly believe that if we play to our strengths, and to our potential, and Colchester don’t, then we have a good chance.

“It’s a potential banana skin for Colchester and, who knows, we might be the only team to cause an upset on the day, or there might be five or six upsets.

“Some of our younger players will also be keen to impress, having perhaps missed out on apprenticeships at League clubs. It’s a chance for them to shine,” added McGleish.

Although now aged 41 – he turns 42 in February –McGleish still makes the odd appearance for Wealdstone, from the substitutes’ bench.

He has only been employed sparingly this season, concentrating on his coaching duties instead, but a cameo role should not be ruled out this weekend.

“There will be no sentiment with picking the team,” continued McGleish.

“We will pick the best squad. I might be in the squad, who knows.

“I’ve just played a bit-part role this year, and that was always the plan.

“I spoke to the manager (Gordon Bartlett) over the summer, and he said that he still wanted me to play.

“I was a player-coach last year, but played more than coached, whereas now I’m coaching more. Otherwise, I could have gone elsewhere and played more.

“I basically do all the coaching now. I take the sessions and pick the team with the manager), though of course he has the last say.

“So I do a lot of shouting from the sidelines, basically!”

“I’ve come on as a late substitute occasionally, often to have an old head on the pitch at the end of games.

“I try to have a level head, to calm things down,” added McGleish.

After a dreadful start to the season – they mustered just one point from their first six league games – Wealdstone have picked up over the last couple of months.

In fact, the Stones are unbeaten in their last 13 matches, in all competitions, and have won their last seven on the bounce, including an eye-catching 3-2 victory at league leaders Ebbsfleet United in their last outing, last Saturday.

That’s in stark contrast to the U’s, who play three divisions higher up the pyramid. Humes’ side have lost four of their last six games, collecting four points from a possible 18, and have lost their last three on the road.

McGleish revealed: “We fully deserved to win at Ebbsfleet last weekend. We went ahead three times, away from home, so we should be expecting to win. The boys played well.

“In fact, that was the perfect preparation for us, ahead of this weekend’s big game.

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