Crawford hopes U’s are inspired by the ‘Spirit of 71’

Colchester United v Mansfield Town – Sky Bet League Two – JobServe Community Stadium – Saturday 3pm – Preview

Ray Crawford is hoping that the ‘Spirit of 1971’ will inspire out of sorts Colchester United to a long-overdue victory following winless Sky Bet League Two sequence stretching back ten matches.

The U’s entertain in-form Mansfield Town on the 50th anniversary of their famous FA Cup fifth-round victory over Leeds United at Layer Road, a result still viewed by many as the greatest shock in the history of the competition.

“I hope the boys are inspired by it,” Crawford told Yellow Sport.

“It was a wonderful time for the football club. Our manager, Dick Graham, was brilliant. He had a plan and looked after us as if we were the First Division team.

“The memories of that day are still very fresh. Scoring two of the goals was fantastic for me. But the fact we are still here talking about it half a century later proves just how special it was.

“I know the game at the weekend will not live long in the memory, particularly with no supporters allowed in. But these players have to realise that we were in the Fourth Division as well, playing many of the same teams, week in, week out. We worked hard and earned the right for a shot at glory and on the day, it came off.”

Looking ahead to the clash with Mansfield – a team unbeaten in five under the guidance of Nigel Clough – Crawford added: “Surely, the Colchester boys realise they are in a relegation battle? That should be enough to shake some life into them.

“I think they showed a bit of steel to get a draw at Leyton Orient. But we need to start scoring goals.

“At the moment, Colchester are one of the bottom teams on current form. Only the manager and players can change that. There has to be some intensity in the play, however hard that might be in an empty stadium.

“I’ve not been too confident of late, but with the 50th anniversary in mind, I’m hoping the story rubs off on our boys and we can turn things around before it’s too late.”

Ray Crawford’s prediction: Colchester United 1-0 Mansfield Town
Jeevesie’s prediction: Colchester United 0-2 Mansfield Town


Brian Jeeves

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