Colchester v Fleetwood Town: Big-match preview

Nathan Pond is fit after injury
Nathan Pond is fit after injury
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Steven Pressley knows tonight’s game at Colchester is a must-win for both sides, with Fleetwood desperate to turn games in hand into points.

Saturday’s postponement at Rochdale meant that every League One club bar Bradford has played more games than Fleetwood, who have as many as three games in hand on some of their rivals.

One of those catch-up fixtures is this evening’s rearranged trip to the Weston Homes Community Stadium to face a second-bottom Colchester side desperate for points.

Despite being short on numbers, Town manager Steven Pressley was disappointed that Saturday’s game at Spotland was frozen off and he doesn’t want to see Fleetwood build up a backlog of games.

“We really wanted to play,” said Pressley. “We’re feeling good about ourselves as a team and a group, and it was a game we were very much looking forward to.

“The one thing it’s going to create is a backlog of fixtures.

“We already have a number of games we’re playing catch-up on and that’s another added to them.

“We did want to play but we knew on the Friday there were real doubts.

“Chris Lucketti, being a Rochdale man himself, told us the weather had been poor overnight and it was even worse the following night.

“It was disappointing but now we’re looking forward to Colchester.”

Pressley believes the enthusiasm to get back into League One action comes as much from his playing staff as himself.

“They’re itching to get out,” said the Fleetwood boss. “The training last week was very good and very intense.

“You want the momentum. You want to keep things going.

“But we appear to be ready. We’re excited about the game.

“It’s going to be a game of great significance.

“We remained out of the relegation zone (on goal difference) at the weekend, when we didn’t play, and we have a number of games in hand.

“But these games are only good if you win them.

“We have to start doing that on Tuesday. It’s all about turning them into points.

“We can look at the table and see we’ll move several places if we win, but we have to win.

“Yes, we’ve not played as many as those around us but we have to make those catch up games count.”

Victory would move Town back above Blackpool, who have played two more, into 19th place.

But Pressley is fully aware that tonight’s game has as much significance for Town’s Essex hosts as it does for his visitors.

He added: “We can put real daylight between us and them but Colchester will be thinking they can close the gap if they win.”

Five points currently separate the sides and Pressley said: “It’s a big game for both clubs and we have to come back with a positive result.”

Like Fleetwood, Colchester have changed their manager this term, Kevin Keen taking charge, having been second in command at Reading.

And having watched the Royals earlier this term, Pressley can see the impact he is making.

“I think they look like a team who are finding their way again,” he said. “I watched several of their recent performances.

“They had an excellent result against Charlton in the FA Cup (winning 2-1) and they were very unfortunate against Sheffield United (losing by the same score last Saturday).

“I watched quite a lot of Reading early on in the season, when I was scouting. You can see a real Reading influence on Colchester.

“They like to bring you on to them and then hit you on the counter-attack. It’s something we’ve got to be wary of.

“We like to be expansive in our play but we have to be clever and not leave ourselves too exposed to the counter.”

There will be an extra incentive for those in the Colchester squad who made the trip to Highbury in August.

The Us were subjected to a 4-0 thrashing and Pressley warned: “As a team they’ll want to put things right.

“But we’ll go about our business with a real belief and aim to get a result there.

“I don’t think there will be too many of our travelling supporters but hopefully we’ll send those who do travel back up the road happy.”

Town travelled to Essex yesterday and will stay overnight, training tomorrow before the journey back north.

It’s the best way, says Pressley, of managing an unwelcome long midweek trip.

He said: “It’s a long journey but if we were to travel up straight after the game we might not be in until four or five in the morning.

“With the game on Saturday as well, we have to give the players appropriate sleep.”

n Development player Keano Deacon travelled south with Fleetwood Town and could be in Steven Pressley’s 18 to face Colchester.

The midfielder has impressed with his performances in Barry Nicholson’s squad and caught the eye of the first- team boss.