U’s will need their stoppers as well as starters at Posh

COLCHESTER United manager John Ward has heaped praise on unsung captain Kemi Izzet ahead of tonight’s tricky match at high-flying Peterborough claiming the team needs its ‘stoppers’ as well as ‘starters’.

Following Saturday’s utterly dominant 2-0 home win over Walsall there was some debate as to who Colchester’s man-of-the-match was.

Nathan Clarke was imperious at the back, Lloyd James pulled the strings in midfield, livewire Ian Henderson was a constant threat down the right, while Kayode Odejayi caused havoc in the opposition box.

One name that was unlikely to be mentioned by supporters in the post-match pub debate was Izzet.

The diminutive midfielder quietly went about doing what he does best, intelligently reading the game, breaking up play in front of his back four and nullifying counter-attacking threats by covering for advanced team mates.

Those sort of players don’t tend to make headlines though and rather tend to get taken for granted.

However, for proof of Izzet’s importance to the team just look at last Tuesday’s game at Notts County. With him on the bench in the first half the U’s conceded twice. With him on the pitch in the second half the hosts didn’t register a single shot on goal.

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And the very fact that the 30-year-old has regularly been picked by six different U’s managers over the last decade tells its own story.

“Kemi is a stopper, he’s not a player with a sweet eye like Lloyd James, but there’s got to be a combination of stoppers and starters,” said Ward.

“He is happy to let other people take the plaudits. He never mentioned being out of the team at Notts County, he never mentions getting taken off and that’s why he’s my captain because he’s such a professional person.”

Izzet will certainly need to be at his disruptive best if Colchester are to get anything at London Road tonight.

Peterborough – who are just five points off of the automatic promotion places – have found the net 66 times already this season. That’s 12 times more than anybody else in the division and 28 times more than Colchester.

Posh were rather unfortunate to lose 2-1 at The Weston Homes Community Stadium last month and will fancy their chances of revenge tonight against a U’s side that has lost seven of their last eight games on their travels and failed to score in over nine hours of football away from home.

On the flip side, there is plenty for Colchester to take encouragement from. Posh may be free-scoring, but they have also conceded 59 goals this season – the second most in the division and 20 more than the U’s.

And by all accounts Darren Ferguson’s side have been far from convincing over the last week despite a midweek 2-0 win at Yeovil and a 2-1 home victory over Tranmere on Saturday.

“I’ll have a look at their match report (from Saturday) and decide what to do,” said Ward.

“I tried to match their diamond formation when they came here and got it wrong.

“I think we’ve got to play our own game while also being very respectful of their good footballers.”

Ward will hand late fitness tests to Pat Baldwin (Achilles) and Steven Gillespie (hamstring) tonight, while Lloyd James and Kayode Odejayi are expected to shake off minor knocks suffered at the weekend.

– For live match updates from today’s game follow Stuart_Watson on ww.twitter.com.

PETERBOROUGH: Lewis, Jones; Little, Zakuani, Bennett, Basey, Kennedy, Langmead; Lee, Wesolowski, McCann, Boyd, Mendez-Laing, Rowe, Davies, Whelpdale; Mackail-Smith, Tomlin, Ball.

COLCHESTER: Williams, Cousins; White, Clarke, Heath, Coker, Powell, Beevers; Henderson, James, Izzet, Perkins, Vincent, Wordsworth, Bond; Mooney, Odejayi, Vilhjalmsson, Gillespie.