Luke Prosser targets top three as Colchester United host Mansfield Town

PUBLISHED: 06:00 18 January 2019 | UPDATED: 08:37 18 January 2019

Luke Prosser wins an aerial battle with Jonathan Stead to head the ball during the U's last home match, a 3-3 draw against Notts County. Picture: STEVE WALLER    WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM

Luke Prosser wins an aerial battle with Jonathan Stead to head the ball during the U's last home match, a 3-3 draw against Notts County. Picture: STEVE WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM

© Copyright Stephen Waller

Colchester United’s club skipper, Luke Prosser, remains focused on grabbing one of the three automatic promotion places, rather then just being content with a play-off berth.

Luke Prosser celebrates after heading home against Notts County, only for the goal to be ruled out for offside.  Picture: STEVE WALLERLuke Prosser celebrates after heading home against Notts County, only for the goal to be ruled out for offside. Picture: STEVE WALLER

The U’s had dropped out of the top-seven, before last weekend’s trip to the Potteries, having taken just two points from a possible 12 in their previous four fixtures around the turn of the year.

However, last Saturday’s convincing 3-0 win at Port Vale propelled the U’s back up to fourth spot, and within a point of the all-important top three, until tomorrow’s visitors Mansfield Town leapfrogged them with a 1-0 home win over Crawley Town in midweek.

Even so, John McGreal’s men are just two points and two places adrift of the automatic promotion zone, and they have the added incentive of being able to leapfrog the Stags with a home victory tomorrow.

“It’s very tight at the top, and in fact much tighter than I thought it would be at this stage of the season,” explained Prosser, following yesterday’s training session at Florence Park, Tiptree.

Luke Prosser, who is targeting the top three ahead of this weekend's home match against Mansfield. Picture: STEVE WALLERLuke Prosser, who is targeting the top three ahead of this weekend's home match against Mansfield. Picture: STEVE WALLER

“I assumed that Lincoln City and MK Dons would be running away with it, by now, and would have been out on their own, but that hasn’t happened.

“They have been dragged back into the pack, so instead of there being just one place up for grabs in the top three, all three are within range.

“So all places are up for grabs, and even the teams down in eighth or ninth will be fancying their chances.

“We are approaching the business end of the season, and it’s all about momentum at this point. Momentum is the key,” added Prosser.

Ex-Southend defender Prosser has labelled tomorrow’s game as “massive,” against a Mansfield side who went on a magnificent unbeaten run of 17 league matches between mid-September and early January, before suffering back-to-back defeats to Carlisle United and Yeovil Town earlier this month.

“This is a big game. Mansfield are in-and-around us, so it’s a massive game for us,” confirmed centre-half Prosser.

“Mansfield have added to their squad this week, with a couple of new signings, and on paper they look to have got a very strong squad.

“They have not lost many games this season (three out of 27 in League Two), and they have probably the highest or the second highest budget in the division.

“However, we are in a very good place ourselves, and we are all raring to go.

“We weren’t getting the results over the Christmas period, but I thought we were still playing well. It was only in the second half at Crawley Town (2-0 defeat on New Year’s Day) when we weren’t really ourselves.

“We also conceded some sloppy goals against Notts County (3-3 draw in the last home match), but we scored three goals that day, and we scored three again last weekend.

“It was a very professional performance, at Port Vale, so hopefully that little blip over Christmas is all it is, our little blip for the season. We would take that.

“The win at Port Vale put us right back up there, and this weekend should be another big game with a big atmosphere, just as it was against Lincoln (1-0 home win in late October).

“It’s a clash between two good teams. Mansfield have a game in hand over us, but three points would take us above them.

“Personally, I’m happy with the way I am playing, although I could do with a few more clean-sheets. But the team is in a really good place,” added Prosser.

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