Ray Crawford on Reading v Colchester United – Carabao Cup first-round – Madejski Stadium – Saturday 3pm – Preview

U’s must ensure they take positives from the game

In all honesty, Ray Crawford doesn’t expect Colchester United’s Carabao Cup campaign to be extended any further than Saturday’s trip to the Madejski Stadium.

Steve Ball’s men head to Championship promotion hopefuls, Reading, looking to replicate last season’s heroics when they saw off both Crystal Palace and Tottenham Hotspur before falling at the quarter-final stage against Manchester United at Old Trafford. But although former frontman Crawford can’t see the U’s prevailing this time, he insisted they could take positives from the tie if they approach it in the right manner.

“I don’t think Colchester are as strong as we were last season,” Crawford confessed to Yellow Sport.

“Reading will have too much quality for us at the moment. It’ll be very tough containing them, although I think we must be looking at matching them as best we can’t – not going there on a damage-limitation mission.

“Colchester now have one or two boys who will be handed an opportunity quicker than perhaps they expected. It is up to them to prove they are up to the job, something they must do sooner rather than later to ease the anxiety of the fans.”

Crawford continued: “From what I have seen, a lot of the supporters don’t seem very enthusiastic ahead of the League Two season but It doesn’t have to be that way.

“It’s a tough division, but what we have is capable of competing for the play-offs again if they can find some consistency. Saturday, I believe, will be a learning curb – part of the process. As much as the cup run was fantastic for Colchester last season, giving us momentum during the middle of the season. The extra games could have been part of the reason why we missed out on the top three?

“I don’t think we should go into this game viewing it as a free hit. We have to try to win, of course. But it is going to be a tall order so Ball must ensure we come home with something to build on for when we go to Bradford City for the first league game the following week.”

Ray Crawford’s prediction: Reading 2-0 Colchester United
Jeevesie’s prediction: Reading 3-0 Colchester United

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Brian Jeeves

Email: [email protected]