Southend United v Colchester United – Sky Bet League Two – Roots Hall Stadium – Saturday 1pm – Preview
“Will the real Colchester United please stand up?
“I think I’ve asked this question before,” Ray Crawford told Yellow Sport.
Back-to-back Sky Bet League Two defeats have left the U’s floundering in midtable while some fans have taken to social media to voice their concerns ahead of Boxing Day’s Essex derby with bottom of the table Southend United.
Indeed, a month ago you’d have put your mortgage on Colchester putting their bitter rivals to the sword on their own patch. However, the U’s most recent performance against Morecambe threw up far more questions than answers as to what this Colchester side is capable of.
“It’s hard to believe Southend – with all their problems – are going into this game as the in-form side,” Crawford continued.
“Player for player, Colchester have a far strong squad, but if you allow yourself to get out-fought then you are going to be in trouble.
“The Morecambe game highlighted this. They were direct, accurate and strong. They possessed a will to win for a manager who appears tactically switched on to this league.”
Crawford was concerned ahead of the derby, but expected Colchester to bounce back: “As I said, we have a lot more quality than Southend. I don’t think that is in doubt.
“It’s a game we should win. But we will have to match Southend, who have shown their manager and supporters that there is some spirit in the camp and they are capable of nicking results if the opposition takes them too lightly.
“Will the Colchester players underestimate their big rivals from down the road? Only they can answer that. But recent performances against Cambridge and then last weekend with Morecambe suggest we are some way from where we want to be.
“Of course, there is still plenty of time to put a run together and get ourselves back amongst the promotion contenders. But I think Saturday will be the yardstick of where we are just now.
“Off the back of their recent results, coupled with our own, Southend will see this as an opportunity to take something from a game that a month ago would have offered them nothing. Who can blame them – their tales are up, confidence lifted.
“It will take far more than ability to win this game. We must match Southend all over the pitch, and some! Failing that, I think the fans will have a few more serious questions come full-time.”
Ray Crawford’s prediction: Southend United 0-2 Colchester United
Jeevesie’s prediction: Southend United 1-1 Colchester United