U's could go top tonight
COLCHESTER United will regain top spot in League One, if they can overcome visiting Scunthorpe at Layer Road this evening.The U's continued interest in the FA Cup had enabled Essex rivals Southend to leapfrog them in the league table, but Phil Parkinson's men have a chance to cash in on one of their two games in hand.
COLCHESTER United will regain top spot in League One, if they can overcome visiting Scunthorpe at Layer Road this evening.
The U's continued interest in the FA Cup had enabled Essex rivals Southend to leapfrog them in the league table, but Phil Parkinson's men have a chance to cash in on one of their two games in hand.
They will start as hot favourites. A brace from Richard Garcia, and a third from leading scorer Chris Iwelumo, ensured a club record nine wins on the trot at the expense of Bradford City (3-1) on Saturday.
The U's are the in-form team in the country, having won an amazing 19 of their last 21 matches. The only two slip-ups have both come on their travels, with a draw at fellow high-fliers Swansea and a defeat to an injury-time goal at Swindon.
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United dropped to 15th spot following a 2-1 home defeat by Bournemouth on October 15, but they have been invincible at home ever since.
Scunthorpe will do well to avoid becoming the 12th successive team to leave Layer Road empty-handed.
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Yet U's assistant manager Geraint Williams has warned against complacency: “I suppose there's no getting away from the fact that we will be favourites, because of the run that we have been on,” admitted Williams last night.
“But every game is different, bringing up different challenges, and Scunthorpe have a couple of very dangerous strikers in Billy Sharp and Andrew Keogh. They can both be a real handful.
“We will have to defend well, against a potent strike-force, and yet we will also be looking to capitalise on Scunthorpe's poor defensive record.
“We are scoring a lot of goals at the moment, and from all areas of the pitch. Opposing teams are having difficulty in stopping all our threats,” added Williams. Centre-forward Iwelumo netted his 15th goal of the season against Bradford, while in-form Australian attacker Garcia boosted his recent tally to six goals in the last four matches.
Furthermore, midfielder Neil Danns helped himself to seven goals during the month of January. Wingers Mark Yeates and Greg Halford are also hungry for goals.
The injured trio of Liam Chilvers, Wayne Brown and Tony Thorpe are all added to the 16-man squad from Saturday, although they will struggle to break into the starting line-up.
Centre-halves Brown and Chilvers have started training again, after their respective operations, and recent signing Thorpe is back in the fold after a knee injury. But midfielder Kem Izzet remains sidelined by an ankle problem.
COLCHESTER UNITED: Davison, Duguid, Richards, Baldwin, White, Halford, Danns, Watson, Yeates, Iwelumo, Garcia, Williams, Stockley, Elokobi, King, Guy, Chilvers, Brown, Thorpe and Gerken.
SCUNTHORPE UNITED: Evans, Byrne, Hinds, Foster, Rose, Taylor, Goodwin, Baraclough, Sparrow, Sharp, Keogh, Beagrie, Johnson, Stanton, Williams, MacKenzie and Musselwhite.