U’s to put their rivals further in the mire
It's the Essex derby on Monday night and the aims of the two sides could not be more different.
For Colchester United they've got their eyes very much on promotion, and can close the gap on stuttering Charlton to just three points with a win over their great rivals and they'll still have a game in hand over the Londoners. With Leeds dropping points they might even fancy their chances of a place in the top two, although that gap is a bit trickier to bridge.
Southend United's situation is very different, the Shrimpers started off the season with just one defeat in eight league games and will have been hoping to push for the play-offs, they've had to sell their star striker Lee Barnard since then though, who moved on to Southampton, and now look set to be in a relegation scrap from here to the rest of the campaign.
Some say form goes out of the window for a derby, but I just don't think that applies here though - Colchester have lost just twice at home this season (to Leeds and Norwich, coincidentally played in front of the two biggest crowds the stadium has seen for a Colchester fixture), winning four out of the last five at the Weston Homes Community Stadium, while Southend have won just once in eight league games away from Roots Hall, one in ten if you include the JPT and FA Cup.
To make matters worse for Steve Tilson, he has some major absentees - Pat Baldwin and Scott Vernon are both unavailable to play as they are on loan from the U's, Alan McCormack is missing the second game of his two match suspension, Anthony Grant and Stuart O'Keefe (ankle and hernia respectively) are both ruled out through injury while Francis Laurent and Damian Scannell are both struggling for fitness.
One piece of good news for the visitors is that Sanchez Watt is set to make his debut, after the winger arrived at Southend on loan from Arsenal on deadline day.
Colchester look to have no such worries as they welcome back Kevin Lisbie, Christian Ribeiro and Paul Reid.
The only thing that Aidy Boothroyd has concerns over is the state of the pitch, the U's manager quipped - "It's fabulous if you want to grow cabbages and potatoes, it's not particularly good for football."
The pitch has really felt the brunt of the rain and snow affecting the UK over the last couple of months and is really cut up, Steve Tilson commented, "It's shocking, there's no two-ways about it."
Tilson will be hoping the dodgy pitch provides a bit of a leveler but I can't see it, and I'd be all over Colchester at 4/6, the sides haven't drawn a league game at Colchester since 1984 - it's 13/5 for that run to be halted on Monday night while the Shrimpers are a whopping 9/2 to take the points back to Roots Hall with them, which would be their 2nd successive three point haul from the Weston Homes Community Stadium.
Kevin Lisbie is likely to start up front for the hosts having missed the win over Carlisle and only featuring for 13 minutes against Leeds, the on-loan Ipswich man bagged the opener in his last start against MK Dons and is priced at 4/1 to do the same in the derby, evens to notch one at anytime of the game.
The Shrimpers have lost a huge threat with 17-goal Barnard leaving; the evidence there for all see when their top scorer now is only on three goals, that man is Francis Laurent, and he's in a race to be fit, the forward is 8/1 to score the first goal of the 90 minutes, 11/4 just to pounce at any point of the match.
It's sure to be a cracking derby match, join us when the action unfolds to bet on a wealth on live betting markets with our In-Play service