Colchester United FC meeting the opposition

Tranmere Rovers return back to action this Easter Monday as Nigel Adkins’ men play host to Colchester United. 

More than a thousand Rovers supporters made the trip to Bradford City on Good Friday and they all left Valley Parade with a feeling of disappointment as the Bantams won 2-0.

Tranmere will face another challenge on Monday as The U’s are managed by the successful Cowley brothers who claimed their first home win against Newport County last time out. 

Ahead of the game, I spoke to Colchester United’s long-serving Daily Gazette Journalist Jon Waldron. 

Hi Jon, when did you start reporting on Colchester United? What was your first experience of the club like?

I started reporting on them back in November, 2005. I was fortunate enough to begin covering them during an exciting time for the club, when they were on the cusp of a historic promotion-winning season from League One into the Championship.

What have been some of your best and worst moments as a Colchester fan/reporter? The 1992 FA Trophy Winners reached The Championship in 2006, finishing as runners up in League One with current Wrexham boss Phil Parkinson as manager.

Reporting on Colchester United’s promotion to the Championship in 2006 was an unforgettable experience, as was their outstanding first-ever season in the second tier when they finished in tenth spot and had an outside chance of making the play-offs, in the final weeks of the campaign.

There have also been some memorable moments in the cup, with wins over the likes of Spurs and Crystal Palace and taking on Manchester United, at Old Trafford.

The 1-0 win over Preston North End in the final game of the 2014-15 season which kept Colchester in League One against all the odds was pretty memorable, too.

The worst moments have been the two relegations Colchester have suffered in 2008 and 2016, along with the FA Cup home defeat to non-league Marine.

Colchester finished 20th last season and are currently positioned 22nd in League Two, having claimed 37 points in 38 matches.  What are your thoughts on the past two years and do you believe that anything has got better?

It’s hard to be anything other than disappointed in how things have gone for Colchester, over the past couple of years. They’ve been flirting with relegation for a while now and this is the fourth successive season that they have been battling the drop. However, the arrival of Danny Cowley has boosted everyone and has given fans renewed hope that there are better times ahead.

What are your thoughts on Colchester Chairman Robbie Cowling? He took the position in 2010.

Mr Cowling became chairman in 2007. He has ploughed millions into the football club since then, including on a brand new training ground and investing a substantial amount in the club’s academy.

He has backed his coaches in the transfer market and while some of his decisions have been questioned by some, he has always made those choices for the good of the football club.

The U’s are managed by 45-year-old Danny Cowley, who is assisted by his brother Nicky. The Cowley’s were appointed in early January, following the dismissal of Matthew Etherington on New Year’s Day. What are your thoughts on the former Lincoln City, Huddersfield Town and Portsmouth duo who were previously very successful in Essex at Braintree Town? I thought that the League One promotion winning captain Karl Duguid coming in to watch training spoke highly of the close connection built at the club.

The Cowleys have been a breath of fresh air for Colchester since they arrived in early January. They have brought with them so much enthusiasm and vigour and have helped to reunite the club and its fanbase, which had become fragmented prior to their arrival. They perhaps have not had the results they have deserved so far but two defeats in their 12 games in charge so far show that they have made Colchester a much harder side to beat.

Could you talk to us about the current style of play? It seems like the preferred formation is 3-5-2.

Colchester are presently playing with wing-backs, with two defensive midfielders and an advanced central midfielder behind two forwards. They like to have energy and positivity in their performances but also physicality and a will to win.

The last time the two clubs met was in early September at The Colchester Community Stadium as Colchester won 2-0 with goals from Joe Taylor and Bradley Ihionvien. Can you remember that game? What were your thoughts on each side’s performances?

Colchester’s win over Tranmere last September was significant for them in that it was their first home win of the season and a much-needed victory. It was also important in that it proved to be Ian Dawes’ final game in charge of Tranmere.

On the day, Colchester put in a dominant performance and fully deserved their win, registering 27 shots on goal – 12 of which were on target.

Colchester beat Newport County 2-1 on Good Friday as midfielder Jay Mingi hit a 92nd minute winner. Do you believe that the good winning feeling will keep Colchester above the drop zone? The U’s last victory before this was on 27th January however Cowley’s side had drawn six of their last eight.

The win over Newport on Good Friday will have done Colchester the power of good. It was the Cowleys’ first home victory since they took charge and was crucial in that it kept them out of the relegation zone, following Sutton United’s win at Salford City.

The manner in which Colchester won the game was also significant, in that they came from behind to claim the three points and scored a stoppage-time winner, which resulted in a euphoric atmosphere at the final whistle.

Joseph Taylor is Colchester’s current top goalscorer, having a fantastic time on loan from Luton Town at the start of the season, as 28-year-old midfielder Cameron McGeehan looks to chase him down having netted eight goals in thirty games, providing his teammates with four assists. How big of a miss is Taylor and how special is McGeehan? Who would you say are the squad’s other threats?

Colchester have certainly missed Joe Taylor’s goals, in the second half of the season. It is a shame that the Cowleys have not had him at their disposal, given his excellent showing in the first half of the campaign.

Cameron McGeehan has certainly stepped up in the second half of the season and has a habit of being in the right place, at the right time to score some crucial goals.

Wide men Jayden Fevrier and Harry Anderson are real threats with their pace and trickery and watch out too for Samson Tovide, who has just returned from a three-month lay-off due to an ankle injury.

Finally, what are your thoughts on Nigel Adkins’ Tranmere and do you believe that The U’s will complete the league double over The Whites this campaign?

It’s always a tough game at Tranmere and this match will be no exception. Colchester are fighting for their lives and would dearly love to secure back-to-back wins for only the second time this season. I think they are capable of doing that but it certainly won’t be an easy task for Danny Cowley’s side, especially as Tranmere have improved under Adkins in the second half of the season. Colchester fans will be particularly wary of their former striker Luke Norris, who showed his predatory instincts for the U’s during his time with the club.

Tranmere have won two of their last three home games and will be looking to put wrong to right following on from a disappointing showing at Bradford City. 

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