Ward hopes unorthodox tactics can confuse opposition

COLCHESTER United manager John Ward will be hoping his flexible approach to tactics can bamboozle Leyton Orient tonight.

The U’s boss appears to be revelling in the fact that – 14 games into the League One season – opposition bosses still haven’t quite worked out his unorthodox tactics.

Ward tends not to pigeon-hole his players into certain positions and allows them to interchange on the pitch and adapt as the game unfolds.

The Essex side’s formation could loosely be described as a 4-3-3 in the first few weeks of the campaign.

However, the system which ended up beating Notts County recently was more of a lop-sided 4-4-2, while the superb 2-1 win at Bournemouth on Saturday was achieved after similar personnel switched about into a fairly stock 4-4-1-1.

Ashley Vincent has already played as a right-sided forward, a lone striker and left-midfielder this season, David Mooney has been a target man and a link-up player, while Andy Bond has played all across the midfield.

They are just three examples of just how flexible the system is – extraordinary considering the fact that the U’s were labelled ‘predictable’ under the management of Aidy Boothroyd last season.

Most Read

“I think (Bounremouth manager) Eddie (Howe) admitted we had a ‘unique’ formation in his programme notes,” smiled Ward.

“People keep asking me what formation do we play. Well I’m going to leave that up to you all to keep thinking about.

“We have got the ability to change our shape when required and I have the confidence in my players to play in one or two different positions .

“Who knows, it might be another system against Leyton Orient now!”

Colchester moved up into third place in League One at the weekend after becoming the first side to win at Bournemouth in the league since January. Victory over their East London rivals in the A12 derby tonight could potentially see them move into the automatic promotion places.

Orient, who finished just a point clear of the relegation places last season, currently find themselves down in 18th place.

Russell Slade’s side have been in good form at Brisbane Road and their 2-1 comeback win over Rochdale on Saturday was their fourth home win of the campaign.

In contrast, the O’s – who tend to play a 4-5-1 formation on their travels – have not recorded an away victory in the league since January. However, Colchester should be wary of the fact they have secured valuable draws at Southampton, Oldham and Swindon already this season.

The U’s will once again hand a late fitness test to defender Magnus Okuonghae, who has missed the last two games with an ankle injury, while Anthony Wordsworth has been ruled out for another two weeks with a hamstring problem.

That means that Tom Williams – whsoe loan from Bristol City was extended for a month yesterday – could be moved forward to left midfield to accommodate Marc Tierney return following a shoulder injury.

Orient striker Scott McGleish won’t be facing his former club as he is sidelined with a rib injury, while on-loan Tottenham forward Paul-Jose M’Poku is also out (hamstring). It means the visitors are likely to start with former Braintree Town player Alex Revell as the lone striker.

– For live match updates follow Stuart_Watson on www.twitter.com. Keep an eye on this site for half-time and full-time reports, plus match reaction.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter