Port Vale and Colchester United both targeting first wins of 2018

Nathan Smith tries to get in the way of a second-half shot by Sammie Szmodics during the 1-1 draw at

Nathan Smith tries to get in the way of a second-half shot by Sammie Szmodics during the 1-1 draw at the Community Stadium a month ago. Szmodics is the U's leading scorer with 13 goals, while Smith should again line up for Port Vale today. Picture: STEVE WALLER - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Colchester United and Port Vale, between them, cannot even buy a win this year.

Both clubs were going great guns at the back end of 2017, the U’s bursting into the League Two play-off zone and the Valiants pulling themselves clear of the relegation zone.

But they have both stumbled since the turn of the year, leaving John McGreal’s men four places and five points adrift of the top seven, and Neil Aspin’s Potteries club down in 18th slot, although they remain a healthy six points clear of the bottom two.

Since their 2-0 win at Crawley Town on Boxing Day, a result which left the U’s flying high in fifth slot, the U’s have collected just three points from a possible 15 in their last five fixtures.

Vale’s recent exploits have been just as unproductive. So far, 2018 has yielded three defeats and one draw from four games.


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Unless there is a draw – and that is probably the most likely result – something has to give this afternoon.

- John McGreal targeting two new players

“Last weekend’s first half was the poorest during my tenure,” explained McGreal, with reference to the 1-1 home draw against Grimsby Town.

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“But our second-half display was a vast improvement, and that has had a good knock-on effect into training this week.

“And with players like Luke (Prosser) back in the dressing room, there are more voices being heard as well.

“We are expecting a tough game against Port Vale, because they are a strong, physical side.

“(Tom) Pope is a huge danger. We’ve found that out down the years, even when we were in League One. They have some good players to play off him as well.

- Luke Prosser is ready for a start

“Neil (Aspin) got a good return of points in December (13 from a possible 15) shortly after he came in. But every manager finds it tough at times, at this level, and Neil is finding that out after seeing his side go 2-0 up at Accrington and then seeing the result slip away (3-2 defeat),” added McGreal.

Squads

PORT VALE: Boot, Hannant, Anderson, Smith, Jules, Worrall, Kay, Tonge, Pugh, Whitfield, Pope, Gibbons, Harness, Davis, Montano, Barnett, Wilson & Lainton.

COLCHESTER: Walker, Eastman, Prosser, Kent, Jackson, Lapslie, Murray, Vincent-Young, Wright, Szmodics, Guthrie, Mandron, Comley, Kpekawa, Senior, Ogedi-Uzokwe, James & Gilmartin.

Referee: Trevor Kettle (Rutland)

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