Omens for cup success are good for U's

AFTER a two-year absence, Colchester United are tonight involved in a competition in which they reached Wembley 11 years ago.And the omens are good. When Steve Wignall's men went all the way to the twin towers in 1997, for the final of the Auto Windscreens Shield, they notched a surprise victory at Millwall in one of the early rounds.

Carl Marston

By Carl Marston>

AFTER a two-year absence, Colchester United are tonight involved in a competition in which they reached Wembley 11 years ago.

And the omens are good. When Steve Wignall's men went all the way to the twin towers in 1997, for the final of the Auto Windscreens Shield, they notched a surprise victory at Millwall in one of the early rounds.


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Paul Buckle's golden goal secured a 3-2 win against the Lions, in a second round tie, and following further victories over Brentford, Northampton and Peterborough, the U's were eventually beaten in the final by Carlisle after a penalty shoot-out.

This evening, the U's begin their quest for more Wembley action with another trip to The Den, in the first round of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy (kick-off 7.45pm).

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Winger Mark Yeates, who scored a superb brace in Saturday's 2-2 draw against Oldham Athletic, is hoping for a quickfire return to winning ways at Millwall, although his priorities lie elsewhere.

“The league is the priority for us all this season,” insisted Yeates.

“A lot of the lads had two seasons in the Championship, and the quicker we can get back there, the better.

“But the cup games are always enjoyable. I thought we were unlucky not to take Ipswich to extra-time (2-1 defeat in the second round of the Carling Cup), and I think we are in with a serious chance of doing really well in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy.

“It will take our minds off the league for a while, although we want to get a good run going as quickly as possible,” added Yeates.

Manager Geraint Williams is again set to be without the injured trio of leading scorer Steven Gillespie (tweaked hamstring), left-back Matt Lockwood (tendonitis in his knee) and centre-half Paul Reid (groin problem).

He could also make a few other changes, as is usually the case with clubs playing in the Trophy, although there is no real need to rest up any of his first-team regulars because the U's have no league game this weekend.

The U's next league fixture is not until Saturday week (September 13), at Crewe Alexandra, because this Saturday's home game against Leicester City has been postponed due to the Foxes having three players on international duty.

Even so, the likes of winger Medy Elito, midfielders David Perkins and Dean Hammond, and striker Sunday Wasiu will all be pushing for a rare start at The Den.

Hosts Millwall are level on points with the U's on five points in the league and the same goal difference.

There will be no extra-time if the teams are level after 90 minutes tonight. Instead, the match will go straight to a penalty shoot-out.

Squads

MILLWALL: Forde, Frampton, Craig, Robinson, Whitbread, Abdou, Harris, Hackett, Moore, Grabban, Kandol, Martin, Edwards, Spiller, Brkovic, Fuseini, Alexander, Laird, Dunne, Smith, Forbes.

COLCHESTER UNITED: Gerken, White, Heath, Coyne, Ifil, Yeates, Jackson, Izzet, Wordsworth, Platt, Vernon, Elito, Wasiu, Perkins, Hammond, Baldwin, Batchelor, Cousins.

Referee: Mr Gavin Ward (Surrey)

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