'Our hardest game of the season' - U's boss McGreal

PUBLISHED: 06:00 23 March 2019

Luke Norris, connecting with a long range shot during the U's last victory, over Newport. Norris has had a lean spell in front of goal. Picture: STEVE WALLER

Luke Norris, connecting with a long range shot during the U's last victory, over Newport. Norris has had a lean spell in front of goal. Picture: STEVE WALLER

© Copyright Stephen Waller

Colchester United boss, John McGreal, has described today's home showdown with in-form Tranmere Rovers as the "hardest game of the season."

U's boss John McGreal, looking forward to the U's 'hardest game of the season.' Picture: STEVE WALLERU's boss John McGreal, looking forward to the U's 'hardest game of the season.' Picture: STEVE WALLER

While the U’s have struggled of late, losing three of their last four matches by 3-0 scorelines, and winning just one of their last five, Rovers have leapfrogged them in the League Two table thanks to a rip-roaring run of five straight victories.

So John McGreal’s men have a fight on their hands, trying to stop the Rovers bandwagon this afternoon, but they really need to bounce back from successive defeats by Forest Green Rovers and Exeter City to steer their play-off bid back on track.

It promises to be a cracking afternoon.

“There are eight games to go, and the excitement has been there all season,” enthused McGreal.

Courtney Senior (No. 7) celebrates with team-mate Ryan Jackson after scoring agaimst Newport. The duo should form a good partnership down the right flank today.  Picture: STEVE WALLERCourtney Senior (No. 7) celebrates with team-mate Ryan Jackson after scoring agaimst Newport. The duo should form a good partnership down the right flank today. Picture: STEVE WALLER

“We have been up there all season. The boys have been tremendous, to keep up there, and we are in a confident mood.

“Three points at this time of the year are very big, especially as a lot of the teams up there have to play against each other.

“We’ve just been on the wrong end of it at the moment, and we felt the (3-0) scoreline at Exeter was harsh. We are just not getting that first goal, which can be so important.

“Tranmere have been on a brilliant run. They are the form team in the division, and I think this will be our hardest game of the season.

Brennan Dickenson, right, getting hit in the face by the arm of Cheltenham's Jordon Forster, could feature highly today.  Picture: STEVE WALLERBrennan Dickenson, right, getting hit in the face by the arm of Cheltenham's Jordon Forster, could feature highly today. Picture: STEVE WALLER

“But we are a different animal at home, despite the Forest Green Rovers result,” added McGreal.

Injuries have tended to strike at the wrong time for the U’s, with the trio of Tom Lapslie, Harry Pell and Brandon Comley, all central midfielders, all succumbing to injuries at the same time.

Ben Stevenson has maintained his form, in the middle of the park, and Diaz Wright and Mikael Mandron have had stints alongside him, but there is no doubt that this area has suffered through all the absentees.

“Injuries have hampered us,” confirmed McGreal. “We have had to put square pegs in round holes, so we’ve suffered through injuries just like we did last season.

Tranmere Rovers striker James Norwood, who tops the League Two charts. Picture: PATranmere Rovers striker James Norwood, who tops the League Two charts. Picture: PA

“But we’re still eighth in the league, which is about the lowest we have been all season, whereas last year we were nowhere near it. We didn’t have the best of starts last year, so were always chasing, whereas this season we have always been in it.”

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