U's need to start New Year with a bang

COLCHESTER United need to start the new year with a bang, if they are to mount a serious challenge for play-offs, and at least history is on their side.

Carl Marston

Colchester soccer

By Carl Marston

COLCHESTER United need to start the new year with a bang, if they are to mount a serious challenge for play-offs, and at least history is on their side.


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The U's entertain Tranmere Rovers at the Community Stadium tomorrow afternoon. Both sides are in form, and looking to gatecrash the top six during the second half of the season.

Rovers are six points and three places better off than Paul Lambert's men, and whatever tomorrow's result, the U's cannot improve on their current position of 11th in League One - they are four points adrift of the top 10.

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But they can make up some lost ground, something they have been accustomed to achieving during the opening fixtures of a new year.

In fact, Colchester have tended to celebrate the new year in style, losing just one of their last 10 matches at the start of a new calendar year.

With the exception of a 1-0 defeat at QPR on January 1, 2007, when the late Ray Jones scored the only goal of the game for struggling Rangers, it's been all smiles for the U's.

Kevin Lisbie scored both goals against his old club in a 2-1 win at Charlton a year ago, while Nottingham Forest were defeated 3-1 at Layer Road during the promotion-winning season.

That win over Forest was a club record ninth successive victory, and their 11th on the bounce at home. Richard Garcia netted a brace and Chris Iwelumo the other that day.

And 2005 started in terrific fashion, with a resounding 3-0 victory at Swindon. Gavin Johnson, Neil Danns and Garcia were the marksmen.

In addition to history being on their side, current form is also giving the U's new confidence. Just one defeat in the last seven league games, with 10 points accrued from a possible 12, makes United one of the in-form teams of the division.

Defender Chris Coyne is a big doubt with a knee injury, but otherwise Lambert has a full-strength squad at his disposal.

Fact-file

HOW the U's have fared in their opening fixtures of the new year:

2008: won 2-1 at Charlton

2007: lost 1-0 at QPR

2006: won 3-1 v Nottingham Forest

2005: won 3-0 at Swindon

2004: drew 0-0 at Accrington Stanley

2003: drew 2-2 v Tranmere

2002: won 2-1 v Wrexham

2001: won 5-4 v Bristol Rovers

2000: drew 1-1 at Oldham

1999: drew 2-2 v Luton

1998: lost 2-1 to Hartlepool

1997: won 3-3 at Millwall

1996: won 3-2 at Torquay

1995: lost 1-0 at Wimbledon

1994: drew 0-0 v Chester

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