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Mansfield Town 1 v 1 Colchester United
SkyBet League Two
Saturday, 10th March 2018 Kick-off 15:00
Mansfield Vs U's - Durham's Preview
Friday, 9th Mar 2018 16:44 by Durham Exile

Colchester United, led by their under-pressure Manager John McGreal, effectively have 11 Cup Finals to achieve the required number of points (probably 74) to sneak into 7th place in the League Two table.

It is likely that only 8 victories or equivalent (garnering 24 points) will be sufficient to manage this. A very tall order.

It will of course not be easy with recent abject failures against Crewe and Barnet, shining like beacons in the darkness of our current mid table obscurity.

Analysing the games on paper is rarely an effective means of predicting the results, because every team in the league can defeat any other and my earlier predicted win against Barnet caused me to be stung somewhat painfully.

Indeed, of our 11 games, 7 are against teams currently above the U’s in the table and our last 5 games are very tough indeed.

Current form suggests, a mid table finish looks likely which would mean that we then face great uncertainty with 17 players in our squad all requiring to sign new deals in the Summer.

We would undoubtedly lose – Dickenson, Prosser, Guthrie, Murray, Walker, and Vincent-Young if we are forced to languish for yet another season in the basement league.

Anyway, enough of this glass half-empty mentality, it is up to JM to rejuvenate his charges ahead of the fixture against the Stags this weekend. They have just lost Steve Evans – poached to Peterborough (and there is an awful lot of him to poach!) which has seen Swindon lose Dave Flitcroft who has now taken over at Field Mill.

Mansfield still have a realistic chance of automatic promotion, which will not have been helped by their draw against Lincoln mid-week in a bad-tempered affair which saw influential defender Rhys Bennett sent off for the home team in front of a decent 6,091 derby crowd.

Colchester simply must win on Saturday to demonstrate not only their promotion credentials, but also their fighting spirit and commitment, which has been sadly lacking recently.

These last 11 games must allow the U’s to gain the necessary victories and if that is to be achieved then JM is going to have to not only play his best team, but also be adventurous in tactics and formation.

50 points already on the board means that we cannot be relegated, so there is nothing to lose in fronting up to the better teams with an attacking line up and positive spirit. The lily livered defensive tactics previously employed have got us nothing but misery on the road and the albatross of no win north of Watford since the 1-0 Blackpool victory in 2016 hangs heavy around the players necks.

If the formation is 3,4,3 then it must mean 3,4,3 and not 5 at the back when the opposition have one striker at best, as we saw with Crewe and Barnet.

I would strongly recommend the following formation and starting XI tomorrow:


Eastman Prosser Kent

Vincent-Young Comley Stevenson Dickenson

Senior Mandron Guthrie

Gilmartin Lapslie Szmodics Shodipo Inniss Murray Ogedi-Uzokwe

I know that it is anathema to JM to be positive and attack minded, but that it exactly what is required between now and May.

Give it a real go in the first half and establish a lead and then bring on Szmodics, Junior and Shodipo to maintain the pace and pressure in the second. There must be no retreating into their shells and playing deeper to allow the Stags to advance.

JM must consider that if he fails to prepare properly then he will almost certainly be preparing to fail.

He must not be afraid to drop Wright, Jackson and Murray for Stevenson, Dickenson and Vincent-Young. The team I am advocating has youth, pace and some experience but it must not demonstrate fear. The players must be allowed to express themselves and to take the game to their opponents.

The enforced lay off last weekend should have helped the players to bond and to work out just what went so horribly wrong against the basement teams.

Mansfield weather is likely to be a balmy 12 degrees Celsius with a 66% chance of precipitation. The last time I was there when we Drew, the pitch was in good condition. Pitch size is 115 x 70 yards.

The faithful will be there in good number and voice, it is up to the players to give them something to celebrate at 4.50pm.

The 11 cup finals:

Mansfield A
Yeovil H
Morecambe A
Stevenage A
Luton H
Forest Green A
Accrington H
Notts Co H
Lincoln A
Swindon H
Exeter A

League table

Luton 35 69
Accrington 35 68
Notts Co 36 62
Wycombe 35 62
Mansfield 35 61
Exeter 33 58
Swindon 35 57
Coventry 34 54
Lincoln 35 54
Carlisle 36 54
Crawley 35 51
COL U 35 50

Safe journey to the travellers.

Enjoy the game.

Up the U’s

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