U's ready to ride the storm
John Ward's relationship with the Colchester fans is anything but cosy and a winless start to the new season means the Weston Homes faithful will have rotten tomatoes at the ready for the visit of Doncaster on Saturday.
But we rank the U's as the stronger of the two teams here and a dollop of nervous tension might be just what the doctor ordered, giving the hosts a competitive edge that makes them a decent bet to triumph at 8/5.
The Essex club might be third from bottom in the fledgling League One standings but they've finished top ten in each of the past three seasons and tasted defeat just four times on home soil last term, three of those against top-six opposition.
We've seen little to convince us that Doncaster fall into that category and, broadly speaking, we're at a loss to explain why the visitors have been awarded virtual parity in the betting.
Rovers got off to a flyer with wins over Walsall and Bury in their first two league outings, though it was amusing to hear manager Dean Saunders bolt those early results on to a pre-season schedule that included games against Cleethorpes and Bradford Park Avenue to create a sequence of one defeat in ten.
That perhaps gives you some indication of how fragile he considers confidence to be in light of the upheaval that followed the failed Willie McKay experiment and a sense of disorganisation has become apparent in the last two performances, which might set the tone for the next few weeks to come.
Ward makes a valid point when he says that Colchester have performed reasonably well in four-and-a-half out of their five games, the exception being a wretched second-half showing against early pacesetters Tranmere, and this looks like a more forgiving challenge for the U's than most of those faced so far.
The Lilywhites aren't quite nailing the Westley template insomuch that they've only managed one clean sheet in their five league outings but recent performances - not to mention some instances of gamesmanship - offer sufficient reassurance that the players are now buying into his methods.
Richie Barker was feeling hard done by in the wake of Crawley's televised 3-0 defeat at home to Portsmouth last weekend, heavily criticising refreee Darren Deadman after seeing two of his players sent off.
But we're not convinced the Red Devils would have put patched-up Pompey to the sword in any case and now an away fixture against relentless opposition like North End could be a tall order for a club that's operating in totally new surroundings.
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