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Colchester United 2 v 0 Port Vale
SkyBet League Two
Saturday, 11th August 2018 Kick-off 15:00
U's Vs Port Vale - Durham's Preview
Saturday, 11th Aug 2018 11:02 by Durham Exile

John McGreal will start his charges in their first home encounter against Port Vale at the newly sponsored JobServe stadium following an excellent performance and draw at Notts County on the opening day.

The Valiants under Neil Aspin registered an impressive victory against Cambridge United at Vale Park and so will be full of confidence. Tom Pope will once again be a goal threat, but he has the additional burden of captaining the team.

It is an intriguing game and one where JM has a number of options regarding formation. Notably both in defence and attack. The unfortunate delayed contract signature of Kane Vincent-Young led to an enforced formation change last weekend, but with the talented youngster now fully on board he can look forward to a position of strength with a full squad at his disposal. That of course brings its own problems with the forward line and four available strikers (5 if you include Junior on loan at Bromley).

Still as a TV advertisement opines, nicer problems to have! It seems to me that the key this season is making the stadium a fortress once more with improved performances and results the order of the day. If we are to achieve promotion back to League One, it is essential that the Stadium becomes a difficult place for opposition teams to play once again.

So, does JM go 4,3,3 or 3,5,2 or 3,4,1,2 or indeed 3,4,3. In order to include Ryan Jackson and Kane Vincent-Young I think he must go 4 at the back with Tom Eastman and Luke Prosser the twin centre halves. Young Frankie Kent would be the unlucky one to miss out. Nothing to do with form purely to do with formation. Perhaps away from home the 3,5,2 formation can also be used effectively.

Tom Lapslie and Harry Pell were a very effective partnership last weekend and I wouldn’t consider changing little and large at present. It is imperative that Brennan Dickenson plays in a more advanced role and so he must be a conventional left winger on Saturday.

Where does Sammie Szmodics play, given that he was also back to his best last week. Probably just behind the front two strikers. But what about that partnership – who are the Alan Warboys and Bruce Bannister aka “Smash and Grab” of Colchester United.

Over the past seasons we have lacked a genuine striking partnership, but this season we can ensure that the previously shot shy strikers can be forged into an effective and productive strike force. But which partnership will work best?

I liked Collins last week and feel that he needs to be the constancy up front given his pace and trickery on the ball. Frank Nouble ran his socks off for the cause, but I don’t think he is yet fully fit. Luke Norris likewise has been limited to minutes pre-season so that leaves the enigmatic Mika Mandron to partner the Wolves loanee.

Note to JM keeping the four content is key to success this season and it may be that we always play a minimum of two of the four but sometimes could accommodate three in the same team. What a predicament.

Similarly, Ryan Gondoh and Brandon Comley offer alternative midfield options. And we haven’t even included the trickery of Courtney Senior who “never gives the ball away” as the faithful sing.

Make no mistake this is the best and most inventive squad that we have had for 12 years and we all know what happened in 2006!

I would therefore look at a 4,2,1,3 home formation this week, noting that the two full backs get forward at every opportunity and Dickenson plays on the left but up front to deliver crosses and to produce some shots of his own.

I think, despite his enforcer role, that Harry Pell has goals in him too and could make the net bulge with a couple of 25-yard pile drivers.

Therefore, let’s go with:


Jackson Eastman Prosser Vincent-Young

Pell Lapslie


Collins Mandron Dickenson

The bench also looks impressive:

Ross Comley Gondoh Kent Norris Nouble Senior

This is an exciting and potentially very productive season with a great squad and lots to look forward to. A great start on Saturday will set the scene for more good results at the JobServe stadium.

The pitch is looking pristine, the weather will be 21 degrees and partly sunny. The faithful will be present in good numbers and a great result, something like 4-0 will work wonders.

Enjoy the game.

Up the U’s

Photo: Action Images

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