Colchester’s fortunes so far this season have largely mirrored those of Rovers, with both sides sitting on 20 points heading into tonight’s fixtures.
Like Rovers, the U’s fell to defeat at the weekend – losing 4-1 at home to Barrow.
After a difficult start to the campaign, form has improved for the Essex outfit with three wins and a draw from their last seven matches in Sky Bet League Two.
LAST TIME OUT
Colchester United 1 Barrow 4
Sky Bet League Two, Saturday, November 25, 2023
Line-up: Smith, Egbo, Mitchell, Dallison, Fevrier, Read, McGeehan, Greenidge, Chivers, Tovide (Ihionvien 76), Taylor. Subs not used: Collins, Kelleher, Kennedy, Cooper, Jay, Hopper.
Matty Etherington has stepped up into the head coach role after beginning the campaign as U21 boss at the club. A conflict with previous club Crawley Town delayed his appointment but that has now been resolved and Etherington has won half of his eight matches so far since replacing Ben Garner, initially on a caretaker basis.
His time at Crawley was brief, lasting just three matches before parting ways but the former Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United and Stoke City winger now has the opportunity to kick start his management career in earnest.
THE KEY MEN
Goalkeeper – Owen Goodman
The 20-year-old joined Colchester on a season-long loan from Crystal Palace with plenty of experience at Premier League 2 level, as well as winning international honours with England U19. This is Goodman’s first taste of senior football but the 6ft 4in keeper has featured in the vast majority of matches for the U’s so far this season as he looks to build up his experience
Defender – Zach Mitchell
Another player on a season-long loan, Mitchell arrived at Colchester in September from Charlton Athletic. He emerged through the Academy with the Addicks and signed his first professional contract with the south London outfit last year before being named League One Apprentice of the Year at the EFL Awards earlier this year. The 18-year-old has scored twice in 19 appearances so far this season.
Midfielder – Arthur Read
Read joined Colchester in January, signing a two-year deal after switching from Stevenage. The 24-year-old made 83 appearances for Stevenage, having joined initially on loan from Brentford’s B team in 2020. Read progressed through the Academy system at Luton Town and managed seven senior appearances at the Hatters – all coming in the EFL Trophy.
Striker – Joe Taylor
Taylor joined the club on a season-long loan from Luton Town, who he joined in January, and he has hit the ground running with eight goals so far this term.. The 21-year-old made an impression at Kings Lynn Town and particularly during a loan spell at Wroxham where he netted 21 goals in 13 appearances. He switched to Peterborough, where he was handed his senior EFL debut by Grant McCann.
Founded in 1937, Colchester United were elected to Division Three (South) for the 1950/51 season. They did not meet Rovers until 1958/59, by then in the unregionalised Division Three. On October 16, 1958 Colchester travelled to Belle Vue and were beaten 2-1 with Ron Walker and Ronnie Sharp scoring for Rovers. On January 31, 1959, United won the return match at Layer Road, beating Rovers 1-0.
The clubs have met a total of 50 times, all in Football League matches. Home advantage is important in this fixture - Rovers having won 17 of 25 home games, including all the last five meetings between the clubs at the Eco-Power Stadium. In contrast, Rovers have only won six times in Colchester.
TURNED OUT FOR BOTH
Defender Steve Wignall made more than 100 senior appearances for both clubs. He joined Rovers in March 1972 and went on to play 142 times for Rovers. In September 1977 he was transferred to Colchester.
Wignall spent seven seasons at Colchester, scoring 29 goals in 334 senior appearances for the Essex club. In August 1984 he moved to Brentford and from there to Aldershot, where he later worked as manager. Between May 2000 and January 2002, he managed Rovers in the Conference.
Contributors: John Coyle and Gavin Hepworth