Times might get harder for Colchester United
Colchester United, after an encouraging start to the season, following relegation into League Two, are on the ropes after a tough last month.
And things are not going to get any easier for the under-performing and injury-hit U’s for the rest of this month.
Without a win in their last six matches, John McGreal’s men are now facing up to potentially their two toughest assignments of the whole season, over the next three weeks.
This Saturday, the U’s are away at in-form Doncaster Rovers, who are sitting pretty in second spot in League Two, boasting the tag of highest goalscorers in the division.
Moreover, Darren Ferguson’s side are a formidable outfit on home turf – they have not lost a league match at the Keepmoat Stadium for six months, since a 1-0 reverse to Blackpool on March 28.
The U’s, held to a goalless draw by basement dwellers Newport County at the Weston Homes Community Stadium last weekend, will have to play-out-of-their skins to spring a surprise on Rovers this weekend.
At least they will be able to welcome back club captain, and inspirational centre-half, Luke Prsser, after suspension.
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But the Essex visitors are likely to be at full stretch to keep a free-flowing Rovers side at bay.
Three of Doncaster’s side have already scored six goals or more. Leading scorer Andy Williams, who netted a dramatic injury-time winner in the 3-2 success over Barnet last weekend, is on seven goals, while his strike-force partner John Marquis and the experienced James Coppinger have both bagged six goals.
There is a very good chance that Williams will miss out this Saturday, because the Welshman took a hefty knock on his ankle while scoring the winner over the Bees, but Marquis will be returning to the fray after suspension.
The U’s have dropped to 12th in the table (from an early-season high of second), and they could well be wallowing in the lower half of the table in the coming weeks, especially as league leaders Plymouth will be the U’s next hosts, after Doncaster, on October 29.
The Pilgrims have won nine of their first 12 fixtures, and in fact won nine of their last 10 League Two matches, after losing their first two games of the season.
October, therefore, is providing a stern test of the U’s resolve, as well as a test of their resources.
Their cause has not been helped by long-term injuries to the likes of Owen Garvan, Tom Lapslie, Matt Briggs, Doug Loft, Frankie Kent and Brennan Dickenson.
Futhermore, Reading loanee winger Tarique Fosu (hamstring) and left-back Lewis Kinsella (ankle) both picked up injuries during last weekend’s stalemate against Newport.
It is too early to call it a crisis, especially as the U’s are just as close to the top three (six points) as they are to the relegation zone, and a mere two points from the play-offs.
But over the next few weeks, things could become bleak, especially as four the U’s next six matches are away from home – it is time to dig-in.