Colchester United v Harrogate Town: Sulphurites go in search of first away win over U's
The Sulphurites travel to Essex 17th in League Two and six points clear of the relegation zone, but are coming off the back of a pair of home defeats that have seen them concede a total of eight goals.
Another loss could see them dragged right back into the dog-fight at the wrong end of the division, particularly given Colchester’s own position.
The U’s sit five places and six points worse off in 22nd position and only above the bottom two by virtue of having scored more than Forest Green Rovers.
They were thrashed 5-0 by the side directly below them in the table at the weekend and have lost each of their last three league matches.
Ben Garner’s team did however manage to beat League One Cambridge United in the EFL Trophy in midweek, and, history is very much on their side when it comes to fixtures against Harrogate at the JobServe Community Stadium.
Colchester have won all of the three previous showdowns between the sides at their home ground, and five out of six in League Two, including each of the previous four meetings.
The U’s triumphed 2-1 in Essex last term, thanks to first-half efforts from Kwesi Appiah and Frank Nouble, with Alex Pattison’s 57th-minute response for Town proving to be nothing more than a consolation strike.
"We’ve never really cracked it away from home at Colchester in the three previous years at Colchester,” Harrogate chief Simon Weaver said.
"At times we have performed well and not been able to finish off our chances, and we’ve not been able to win ugly either, so we will be attempting to do it better all-round this year and get the three points. Failing that, we won’t under-value a point if we return home with that.
"We want to continue to show strength away from home and picking up points, we’d love the three points, it’s a long way back from Colchester, so it would be good for the feel-good factor on the coach and then we’d look forward to a game at home on Tuesday.
"But, first and foremost, we have to prioritise all of our efforts on being strong, resilient and a really professional away performance.
"A win would be great, because if we get three points then we’ve taken 12 points out of 24 and that’s a good return, so that’s what we have got to be aiming for."
Centre-half Rod McDonald (ankle), midfielder Levi Sutton (ribs) and forward Abraham Odoh (hamstring) all missed last Saturday’s home defeat to Stockport County through injury, but Simon Weaver is hopeful that a couple of that trio will come back into contention at the weekend.
Sutton was able to join in with training on Thursday, as was striker Josh March, who took a blow to his Achilles against County.
"There are a couple who are training today [Thursday] so hopefully they come through that okay.
"They will certainly strengthen the squad if they can come through.”